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Insights I Gained About Overcoming Barriers to Digitizing Fulfillment Processes

Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     May 10, 2021 5:04:25 PM

It’s no secret that eCommerce has grown dramatically over the course of the pandemic. The rising challenge of omni-channel order fulfillment, in particular for brand owners entering the D2C market, has put a spotlight on manual processes that limit visibility, collaboration, and optimization.

I recently participated in the webinar: Digital Order Fulfillment: Fast, Visible, and Cost-Efficient Delivery, in which I had an insightful conversation with Sławomir Kluszczyński, COO at Lotte Wedel Businesses, and Nico van den Berg, Distribution Process Lead BA Europe at Electrolux. Both expressed urgency for not just automated processes, but to progress from limited and siloed order flow visibility to full, end-to-end actionable insight. To streamline and improve the effectiveness of dynamic networking and collaboration.

The challenges they voiced echoed pain points I often hear: Organizations operating within complex supply chains struggle to overcome the limitations of heterogenous systems landscapes. In many cases, companies have made the difficult discovery that their supply chains and existing systems cannot withstand further disruption.

Yet, we all agreed that digitization is an unstoppable, immanent force that cannot be ignored.

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The Need for Speed: Don’t Let These Beliefs Slow Down Your Supply Chain

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Apr 19, 2021 2:59:24 PM

You can try and blame the need for speed on Amazon, with two-day delivery becoming one day and even same day in some instances. But all they’re doing is perfecting what we all want – immediate gratification. The double whammy of the Amazon Effect- and the COVID-19-induced exponential eCommerce spurt is pulling us along at a faster pace than we ever envisioned.

The quest is not new, it’s just now entered onto everyone’s radar. It’s been accelerated. With eCommerce growing more in three months than in the previous ten years, the pressure is on for companies to get moving, regardless of industry segment or business model – we are all affected.

For many, the need for speed is twofold: the urgency to satisfy customers much quicker - whether B2B, B2C, DTC, or brick and mortar – and the subsequent race to get a system in place fast that can deliver on that imperative before your business falls behind. As they say, “time is of the essence.”

Both types of velocity are incredibly attainable today, so what’s holding companies back?

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4 FAQs About Supply Chain Control Towers

Posted by Sophia Shats     Mar 22, 2021 1:58:04 PM

You’ve likely heard it said countless times: Ask 100 people to define supply chain Control Towers and you’ll get 100 different answers. With a wide array of Control Tower solutions on the market, each with their own capabilities and differentiators, it can be challenging to decide which is the right fit and how to sell it internally. There are also many ways to implement a solution, so even after purchase, your strategic work has only begun.

Inspired by a recent conversation between principal Nucleus Research analyst, Andrew MacMillen and Alkimius founder and CEO, Mauro Gonzalez, here are some frequently asked questions we encounter on the topic, as echoed in some of their discussions.

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Software Alone Is Not Enough: Factoring People into Successful Implementations

Posted by Gerry Daalhuisen     Mar 15, 2021 10:16:05 AM

“Digital transformation” typically refers to a technological upgrade. Yet, the new technology is just a tool to get at the heart of what’s really driving the initiative: a desire to change and optimize processes. While a tool can have powerful capabilities, its strength and success will inevitably depend on the people implementing and executing it.

There are many real-world instances of excellent supply chain software that failed to implement. That’s because software alone is not enough; the team you work with is integral to digital transformation success.

Here are five of the most common challenges businesses face in driving a seamless and successful upgrade, and how the right team and approach – as well as some critical software features – enable a fast and effective implementation.

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The Omnichannel Alphabet Soup: Structuring the Unstructured

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Feb 22, 2021 1:57:10 PM

At the start of my career, most brands and OEMs used a traditional two-tier distribution process through wholesalers and retailers to sell their products. “Advanced” companies passed orders via EDI. Brands knew little about their end-users, a far cry from today’s growing customer-centric approach with expanding arrays of channels and convenience options.

The ecosystem and number of touch points are expanding fast, prompting businesses to accrue more systems to effectively conduct commerce, and it’s only proliferating. This begs the question: How does each system talk to the rest of the network? In other words, how do all these systems connect to form a single version of the truth?

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What Exactly Is a Digital Transformation – And Are You Doing It Right?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jan 18, 2021 2:33:35 PM

For some time, I’ve been reading, watching and following the white papers, case studies, and countless webinars put on by keen minds about digital transformations. I must say, the topic doesn’t feel any clearer. Many would have us believe the elements of a digital transformation should include the likes of IoT, AI, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), ML, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and 3D Printing.

In some applications, these transformations are life changing. IoT temperature sensors are enabling the new cold chains for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the use of a digital twin is facilitating the faithful reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Such innovation and advancement are truly a marvel; but, for the average business, the expectation feels daunting, expensive, and drawn out. For most companies, a digital transformation involves a more practical approach.

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Hindsight Is 2020: Top 5 Takeaways for Supply Chain Leaders

Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Dec 28, 2020 4:17:31 PM

Coming into this year, no one could have predicted the pandemic and unprecedented disruption to the supply chain – and essentially to all businesses in one way or another. That said, many have been proclaiming the critical necessity for end-to-end visibility, agility, and flexibility for years.

From learning to adapt to investigating the foundational technological tools that allow brands and logistics service providers to mitigate risk and disruption and provide customers with excellent service under even the most trying circumstances – here are our key takeaways for the year.

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The Seamless Shift to a Customer-Centric Supply Chain

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Oct 12, 2020 4:15:01 PM

In our first installment on the value of customer loyalty, we discussed the numbers surrounding trust and customer retention. Indeed, in these unusual circumstances, it has never been more fitting to consider the value of customer loyalty.

Not only has COVID-19 impacted a company’s ability to provide adequate or exemplary customer service levels, but those bound to legacy systems built around silos have found it particularly difficult to quickly respond and adapt.

In a time characterized by chaos and uncertainty, competitive differentiation will be defined by speed, consistency, reliability, and trust. In a practical sense, that means shifting from reactive to proactive, customer-centric supply chains. For those relying on fragmented processes, the solution is faster and simpler than you think.

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What Value Is Customer Loyalty?

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Sep 4, 2020 12:25:25 PM

My entire career, I’ve believed that it is easier to get more business from existing customers than to develop new ones. That’s not to say you don’t want new customers, but given the effort and expense involved, trusted relationships tend to win out over unknowns.

Yet, when we think about digital transformation, the topic of customer loyalty is typically an unmentioned benefit and nowhere to be found in the ROI rationale. Why is that?

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How to Get the Quickest Time-to-Value for Your Digital Transformation

Posted by Tom Rhoads     Jun 29, 2020 3:57:23 PM

The shift to remote work has left a majority of businesses technologically underprepared – and remote work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to structural changes.

There’s a renewed urgency for digital transformation, especially in supply chains. A recent PwC COVID-19 Pulse Survey revealed that 72% executives believe their companies will benefit from resiliency and agility in the long term, with nearly 50% expecting long-term benefits from technology investments and new ways to serve customers.

Digital transformations offer supply chains incredible opportunities to minimize risk and revenue loss by maximizing efficiency, customer satisfaction, and business growth. Digital transformations are also often daunting to approach and sell internally.

That’s why it’s vital for businesses to start with investments that yield the fastest and most valuable results.

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This Is Not a Storm to Weather

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jun 15, 2020 3:55:31 PM

While most business cycles ebb and flow, two or three times in a generation we encounter an earth-shattering change that fundamentally reshapes the way we do business. We’re in the eye of the storm – and it’s not one to wait out.

Many refer to the ‘new normal’ as a future reality, yet COVID-19 has had structural impact since its earliest protocols surrounding hygiene and social distancing. They have already transformed the way we do business and it’s only the beginning of a series of ongoing and disruptive changes. So, how are you preparing for the reckoning?

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The Hard Economics of Justifying a Supply Chain Digital Transformation

Posted by Bryce Boothby     May 4, 2020 3:50:09 PM

There have been countless times throughout my career where I was either a recommender or approver of significant IT projects. And, I must say, I have always experienced a prevailing attitude among senior management that these transformations are black holes and money pits.

I believe many (if not most) companies still feel this way. Why? There is a litany of cautionary tales: From Hershey’s widely reported $100 million failed ERP implementation in 2015 to our own personal stories. I’ve seen businesses engage consulting firms only to give up about six months in after slow progress and skyrocketing costs; I’ve witnessed first-hand how a $15 million project ballooned to $40 million before it was even finished.

Let’s talk about why this happens and what can be done about it.

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Time for Plan B: How Supply Chains Can Avoid the Mad Scramble of Disruption

Posted by Bryce Boothby     Apr 6, 2020 2:53:32 PM

The famous idiom “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” couldn’t be more appropriate these days. Supply chain management platforms deal with hypothetical and predictive constraints as part of their solve for uninterrupted results. But unexpected and exceptional events can trigger wildly adverse repercussions even with contingency baked into operational plans.

The Coronavirus – among other upsets, like tariffs – has supply chains scrambling for business network alternatives and “loophole engineering” (similar to what automakers have been doing for years). More than anything else, they’re grappling with the consequences of yesterday’s bad decisions. (It happens). While the focus now is to get things back on track in the short-term, businesses must also start acknowledging the new big picture. It’s time to adopt a platform that is more flexible and therefore resilient to today’s and tomorrow’s upsets.

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Supply Chain Solutions: How to Make the Smartest Investment

Posted by Sophia Shats     Jan 20, 2020 5:16:27 PM

We live in a highly demanding time. Customers want more, better, faster, and cheaper. Competition is steep, and meeting expectations while innovating and staying profitable can feel like a pipe dream. As supply chain practitioners invest in and leverage robust technology to deliver on ever-increasing demands and complexities, it’s vital that they see past the fads (quick fix solutions) and focus on long-lasting trends (solutions that best align with where the industry is headed).

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Optimizing vs. Maximizing: Obtaining a Bird's-Eye View Requires Digital Transformation

Posted by Jordan K. Speer     Jan 6, 2020 3:39:56 PM

I recently joined IDC as an analyst covering global supply chain execution and fulfillment strategies, and began by reporting on the difference between maximization and optimization in the end-to-end supply chain: how it’s important to move from the former to the latter, how optimization can only be achieved by viewing the whole ecosystem, and how difficult this has been to do historically. It also explores how a digital transformation (DX) and the promise of interconnectivity and visibility it offers, as well as the intelligence it enables when paired with analytics or AI, make the optimization of large, multi-enterprise, multi-country, multi-industry business networks a viable – and necessary – goal.

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