Google and Wal-Mart team up to combat Amazon in retail supply chain shake-up

Google has teamed up with Wal-Mart in its biggest even retail partnership to challenge Amazon in the online shopping marketplace and combat the proliferation of its Alexa-powered Echo device as a means of facilitating voice shopping.

The move is expected to have a significant impact on the retail supply chain within the United States as well offering customers a whole new way of purchasing goods.

As Forbes analyst Kevin O’Marah puts it: “It signals an acceleration in the shift from store-based retail supply chains to a hyper-personalised, smart consumer supply chain.

“The dynamics of this new supply chain will be brutal for consumer brands accustomed to shelf-centric demand.”

The new partnership marks the first time that world’s largest retailer is offering products outwith its own website in the US. It announced this week that it’s going to offer a huge array of items through Google’s online shopping platform, Google Express, and eventually through its virtual assistant, Google Home.

Wal-Mart is hoping that it can integrate its large network of stores with its digital business thanks to the new partnership.

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Top tips to build a robust supply chain

All businesses need to ensure its goods and services are procured at the lowest cost and meet the company’s needs in terms of timely delivery, quantity, quality, and location.

This is essential in not only providing the best customer experience, but also in ensuring you stay on top of your competitors, as consistency in the supply chain is key. However, the supply chain management world is constantly evolving and it is key to keep pace with both market expectations as well as opportunities.

Choosing and procuring the right technology is just the beginning of the variety of challenges that are present when managing and securing an IT supply chain. Organisations need to ensure effective asset management configuration and deployment are continuing to take shape, while maintaining technology standards and continuity of supply.

Here are some top tips in managing and creating a robust and effective supply chain, with experience and advice from the largest FTSE listed British IT service provider with over a 30-year heritage in IT and information enablement.

Be clear on expectation and deliverables

Many organisations will issue identical performance indicators and market assessment techniques on all engagements they have, irrespective of the technology being purchased or outcome desired by the business.

This is a detrimental approach as nuances and subject matter expertise are unable to be imparted by the partner that could potentially save money, time or actually mitigate risk.

Truly assess each engagement and accurately as well as realistically assess the desired outcomes/output that you wish to achieve, in comparison to work loads and true capabilities of workforces and systems.

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How a pharmaceutical supply chain company is taking advantage of the Internet of Things

In 2014, during a routine check from the Ministry of Health in the U.S., it was found that only 55 percent of vaccines were stored and transported in the temperature conditions that ensured the medication maintained its quality. To put that into perspective, every baby born receives vaccines to prevent diseases such as small pox and measles. If only 55 percent of those vaccinations maintain safety requirements, that creates a situation where a majority of babies don’t get the quality dosage and medication they need to protect them from diseases.

To overcome this challenge, organizations are turning to technology. More specifically, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making it possible to ensure the safer transportation and delivery of medications. Dutch pharmaceutical services company, AntTail, is paving the way for building innovative IoT applications that more effectively track the conditions of medications while in transit.

The team at AntTail built an IoT application using the Mendix low-code application development platform. The application collects sensor data from medication shipments to provide information on temperature, as well as send push notifications to patients with reminders on when to take the medication.

One of the barriers for creating IoT apps is the requirement of many disparate technologies. AntTail uses a central router as a hub for all of the sensors, collecting the data when there is a connection and storing the data when there is no connection to ensure that no data is lost. The Router uses Vodafone’s Managed IoT Connectivity Platform as a way to connect to AWS, and has a Java service running that puts the data into Hadoop.

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Overcoming 5 Major Supply Chain Challenges with Big Data Analytics

Big data analytics can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the supply chain. Leveraging big data, supply chain organizations can improve the way they respond to volatile demand or supply chain risk–and reduce concerns related to the issues.

Sixty-four percent of supply chain executives consider big data analytics a disruptive and important technology, setting the foundation for long-term change management in their organizations (Source: SCM World). Ninety-seven percent of supply chain executives report having an understanding of how big data analytics can benefit their supply chain. But, only 17 percent report having already implemented analytics in one or more supply chain functions (Source: Accenture).

Even if your organization is among the 83 percent who have yet to leverage big data analytics for supply chain management, you’re probably at least aware that mastering big data analytics will be a key enabler for supply chain and procurement executives in the years to come.

Big data enables you to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. For supply chain management, this can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the entire supply chain. Leveraging big data, your supply chain organizations can improve your response to volatile demand or supply chain risk, for example, and reduce the concerns related to the issue at hand. It will also be crucial for you to evolve your role from transactional facilitator to trusted business advisor.

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NFL Draft Lessons for Supply Chain Managers

Just like with successful football game play, having a well-developed modal selection strategy helps organizations defend against capacity concerns and score points for their bottom line by lowering transportation costs.

Every year, the NFL draft provides coaches an opportunity to re-evaluate their teams and supplement their current roster with new players to fill skill or position gaps and prepare their franchise for the future.

In a similar way, supply chain managers have the opportunity, on an ongoing basis, to review their transportation portfolio to ensure they have the right modes and processes in play to not only address the demands and the environment of today, but to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Read on to learn three important lessons supply chain leaders can learn from this year’s NFL Draft and how it applies to calling winning plays for their organization’s transportation network.

The Challenge for Supply Chain Managers

Much like NFL coaches, supply chain managers find themselves having to balance short and long term demands. Managing the demand between these two competing forces is fueled by:

  1. Ongoing disruptions: Whether on the football field or in the supply chain, disruptions can and will occur. It can be easy when everything goes according to plan, but when volatility and the unexpected cause disruption (and they always do) supply chain managers have to have a backup plan.
  2. Short-term cost-savings still primary focus: Organizations are still pressing supply chain managers to deliver more value and additional cost savings. According to a survey completed by Georgia College and the University of Tennessee, 36.7% of shippers listed reducing costs as their first priority in 2015, up from 32.2% in 2016.

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Globalization Creates New Avenues for Supply Chain Risk: riskmethods Shares its Predictions for 2016

As part of our ongoing series on what procurement technology providers see as the biggest challenge for procurement in 2016, we recently spoke to riskmethods to hear its thoughts on the topic. Heiko Schwarz, riskmethods founder and managing director, pointed to increased external risks, globalization and regulation compliance as the main issues procurement and supply chain managers will have to tackle in the new year.

These three major trends will expose organizations to risks in 2016, Heiko said. External risk will continue to be an issue. For example, extreme weather such as rain or snow storms will expose and disrupt supply chains even more than in the past, he said. Political risks have been a growing trend for years, but will continue in 2016 as well, he added.

Globalization is also pushing enterprises to search for new suppliers in countries or regions they probably have not worked in before. Procurement’s scope in the last year has dramatically changed, going from a “domestic-centric” view to a more global one, Heiko said. Specifically, he believes we will see movement away from China as the cost of operating there continues to rise. China is no longer a low-cost sourcing country, and this is putting pressure on companies to move to new areas, places such as the northern regions of Africa, he said. This globalization push will put increase supply chain complexities in 2016.

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5 Data-Driven Supply Chain Challenges to Overcome in 2016

Supply chain, sourcing and procurement executives are feeling immense pressure to cope with the expansion into global markets, waves of disruptive innovation, rising customer expectations and complex regulatory requirements. These are catalysts that require supply chain management strategies to become bimodal and to make a shift from tactical to strategic.

In addition to the sourcing of goods and services, cost management and internal stakeholder compliance, executives’ responsibilities will include the ability to promote and support the top line. They have to be a trusted advisor to internal business partners and will have a tremendous impact on the success of an organization engaging with suppliers, managing relationships with strategic vendors and solving business problems.

For 2016, I see leading supply chain organizations making these top-five data-driven supply chain management challenges a priority.

1. Meet Rising Customer Expectations on Supply Chain Management

2. Increase Costs Efficiency in Supply Chain Management

3. Monitor and Manage Supply Chain Compliance & Risk

4. Make Supply Chain Traceability and Sustainability a Priority

5. Remain Agile and Flexible in Volatile Times and Markets

Read more at 5 Data-Driven Supply Chain Challenges to Overcome in 2016

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