Whatever the business, perfect order fulfillment is the ultimate aim for any supply chain practitioner. That means delivering on-time and in-full (OTIF) to customers as cost effectively as possible.
This is no secret, and every business is obviously working to achieve a highly effective supply chain strategy that builds customer loyalty while maximizing sales. The problem is, it’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing or define progress through misleading metrics.
Let’s demystify some of the most common misconceptions about the perfect order.
1. ‘Perfect’ does not imply fast.
For several years, there has been a kind of dog-eat-dog race to perform better and faster. One brand’s promise of free overnight delivery compels other brands to follow suit or raise the bar higher. Not only is this one up approach not sustainable, it can have serious financial repercussions.
Remember, “perfect” simply means fulfilling on a customer’s exact specifications – not just speed. Apart from overnight deliveries, customers are increasingly rethinking the 24-hour delivery paradigm as the ethics of working conditions, increased accidents on the road, and negative environmental impacts enter public consciousness.
If you do what you feel is ethically correct, rather than give in to the pressure of what’s popular, your customers will respect you for it.
2. It isn’t ‘perfect’ if you limit choice.
If all that’s on the menu is 5-week paid shipping, then yes, consistent and affordable OTIF delivery will be a piece of cake. But perfect order fulfillment also carries an implicit stipulation: exceptional customer service. Businesses don’t really know what a customer wants or how they want it if all they offer are rigid and unattractive parameters.
Listen to the market and give your customers a real opportunity to voice their preferences. This might mean having to transform your supply chain to support more flexible and convenient options – like rush order, special packaging, or the ever-popular Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store (BOPIS) – but the rewards are worth the while.
Customers appreciate choice and innovation, so don’t be afraid to experiment and be dynamic in your supply chain strategy.
3. It isn’t 'perfect’ if you can’t replicate it consistently.
There are two ways to think about perfect order fulfillment: on a case-by-case basis or as a business strategy. Successful OTIF delivery is easy enough when everything goes according to plan, a robust and lasting technology strategy is designed for disruption.
Unforeseen events are usually what impact OTIF delivery. Operating in a global playing field means uncertainty is the only constant. To make perfect order fulfillment a staple of your supply chain operations, it’s imperative to invest in end-to-end visibility and technology that is flexible and agile enough to adapt, change course, and dynamically readjust your order flow and partnerships.
4. It isn’t ‘Perfect’ if it isn’t profitable.
Businesses often endure profit losses when exceptions arise – especially unexpected expedites. For instance, many will rush an entire batch of standard-level orders just to ensure the customer order arrives on time. Such a sacrifice is unnecessary – and bad for business.
An order-centric technology strategy – especially when applied to transportation management – enables businesses to optimize expedites. Order-centric Transportation Management Systems can separate an exceptional or expedited order from the rest of a shipment, so that non-rush items can continue as planned. This way, companies don’t have to take a hit to accommodate a rush order; they simply isolate and reroute an expedite along a different leg or mode and by a different carrier.
With the flexibility to dynamically adapt flows to evolving customer service levels and constraints, businesses can continuously optimize the supply chain for every order.
5. Operations are not ‘as cost-effective as possible’ within a limiting system.
Just as an order isn’t “perfect” if customer choice is too limited, neither is it perfect if business network options are limited. The best of all bad or mediocre choices isn’t good enough. Consistently delivering on the perfect order requires a strategy of continuous improvement. From seeking out the most favorable partnerships to monitoring performance.
Multi-enterprise business network technology is designed to help companies effectively orchestrate across their ecosystem. Configurable supply chain orchestration platforms are especially helpful to that end, as they enable quick and easy new customer, product, and flow integration, and also offers dynamic intelligence on who best to partner with based on the most current expectations and constraints.
In a recent survey of supply chain stakeholders conducted by Supply Chain Dive’s Brand Studio, 51% of the respondents claimed they did not have the technology necessary to achieve the perfect order. Visibility is only the first step toward a full supply chain orchestration environment that will allow businesses to achieve perfect orders. The latest evolution in supply chain control towers takes it a critical step further. Download a copy of the paper to learn more!