CPG Supply Chains are adapting to disruption, new research finds

0Online shopping, new digital technologies, and increasing channel fragmentation are intensifying the pressures on US consumer packaged goods (CPG) supply chains.

There are clear steps CPG companies must take in order to prepare, according to a new report authored by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and commissioned by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

The report, ‘How CPG Supply Chains Are Preparing for Seismic Change’, highlights the top trends affecting CPG supply chains and the effect on CPG companies’ performance.

Among the issues addressed in the report: e-commerce sales growth, service-level performance, channel proliferation, network design, and cash management trends.

The report is based on the 2017 Supply Chain Benchmarking Study, a study of the US units of more than 30 leading CPG companies conducted jointly by BCG and GMA.

“It’s been a turbulent couple of years for the grocery industry, with major disruption and dislocation in the retail landscape,” commented Daniel Triot, senior director of the Trading Partner Alliance of GMA and the Food Marketing Institute.

“Despite the important performance gains in the supply chain in the past two years, CPG companies cannot be complacent. This report aims to provide guidance for CPG companies looking to harness new digital technologies and trends to support continued growth.”

Over the next two years, half the growth in North American grocery sales will come from e-commerce. But only 6% of CPG companies have a dedicated e-commerce supply chain team, and only 3% are able to fully track sales by channel.

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Transforming Integrated Planning & Supply Chain Processes with Augmented Intelligence Capabilities

In conjunction with the announcement, o9 released an eBook titled, “Who Gets the Cheese?”

Aptly named after one of the greatest business books of all time (Who Moved My Cheese?), this resource details one of o9’s systems for optimally allocating resources across initiatives and brands at consumer goods companies.

Founded by executives, practitioners and technologists that have led supply chain innovations for nearly three decades, the o9 team has been quietly developing a game-changing Augmented Intelligence (AI) platform for transforming Integrated Planning and Supply Chain processes.

The team has deployed the AI platform with select clients, including:

  1. Bridgestone Tires
  2. Asian Paints
  3. Restoration Hardware
  4. Party City
  5. Del Monte
  6. Aditya Birla Group
  7. Caterpillar
  8. Ainsworth Pet Foods

Speaking on behalf of o9 Solutions, Co-founder and CEO Chakri Gottemukkala said, “While executives we work with hear the buzz around technologies for data sensing, analytics, high performance computing, artificial intelligence and automation, they are also living the reality of slow and siloed planning and decision making because the enterprise operates primarily on spreadsheets, email and PowerPoint.”

Read more at Transforming Integrated Planning & Supply Chain Processes with Augmented Intelligence Capabilities

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What’s Behind the Inventory Crisis of 2016?

The last time the inventory-to-sales ratio was this high was 2009, when we were in the throes of the Great Recession – people lost jobs, businesses closed, nobody was spending, nobody was growing.

What does it mean that inventory levels are this high in 2016? Are consumers not spending? Are we headed for another recession? Or are other forces at work?

Well, in April the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that consumer spending experienced its biggest gain in six years. And while JPMorgan recently reported an increased probability of a recession in the next 12 months, no one’s sounding the alarm bells quite yet. Besides, inventory levels have been high since last fall.

So what else could be at work?

The Marketplace

Traditionally, a drop in consumer demand would cause a short-term build-up of inventory. But businesses would eventually compensate by cutting orders and manufacturers would produce less. But as we’ve seen, demand isn’t going down. And yet, inventory isn’t moving. Why?

One major culprit is the way consumers shop. Their expectations have changed. This is the age of Amazon Prime, Instacart, Uber and Lyft. Free shipping. In-store pick-up. 1-hour delivery. Easy exchanges and returns. Above all – convenience. If it isn’t convenient for a customer to buy something they want, they won’t buy it – or they’ll buy it somewhere else. Fulfillment has usurped the throne of customer satisfaction.

Traditional retailers have struggled because of this. As young, tech-driven start-ups bite into market with the luxury of fresh starts, traditional retailers have tried to stay competitive. One common tactic has been to keep buffer inventory on hand. Out-of-stock inventory kills customer loyalty. Not being able to fulfill quickly kills customer loyalty. But having lots of inventory doesn’t equate to efficient fulfillment. That requires having a modern, flexible supply chain. Without agility, retailers often lack the competence to satisfy customer demand, let alone fulfilling profitably.

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Is Flowcasting the Supply Chain Only for the Few?

Flowcasting has often been referred to as ‘the Holy Grail’ of demand driven supply chain planning (and rightly so).

Driving the entire supply chain across multiple enterprises from sales at the store shelf right back to the factory.

So is Flowcasting a retail solution or a manufacturing solution? Many analysts, consultants and solution providers have been positioning Flowcasting as a solution for manufacturers.

They’re wrong.

While it’s true that some manufacturers have achieved success in using data from retailers to help improve and stabilize their production schedule, the simple fact is that manufacturers can’t achieve huge benefits from Flowcasting until they are planning a critical mass of retail stores and DCs where their products are sold and distributed.

For a large consumer packaged goods manufacturer, this means collecting data and planning demand and supply across tens of thousands of stores across multiple retail organizations, all of which have their own ways of managing their internal processes.

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4 ways retailers can improve supply chain management

Retailers and their suppliers are under more pressure than ever before to deliver more goods to more destinations faster.

To stay competitive, “retailers need to know where things are at all times so they can redirect shipments, rebalance inventories and respond to new demands on the fly,” says Rich Becks, general manager, Industry Value Chains, E2open, which delivers cloud-based supply chain collaboration solutions.

And if there is a problem with their supply chain, and they can’t get products to stores and/or consumers, retailers (and their suppliers) risk losing customers.

So what steps can, and should, retailers take to make sure their supply chain operations are running smoothly? Following are four suggestions from retail supply chain experts.

1. Use cloud-based software that can track and manage inventory in real time.

“Retailers struggle to balance uncertain consumer behavior and long, complex supply chains,” explains Kurt Cavano, vice chairman & CSO, GT Nexus, a supply chain technology company.

2. Use source tagging and RFID to keep track of inventory and stock levels.

“To improve supply chain management from the moment product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse all the way through to the point-of-purchase, retailers should deploy a source tagging solution,” says Steve Sell, director, North America Marketing, Retail Practice, Tyco Integrated Security.

3. Become a part of a B2B e-procurement network.

“B2B [or e-procurement] networks can help companies predict supply chain disruptions and act quickly to adapt business processes,” says Sundar Kamakshisundaram, vice president, Procurement and Business Network Solutions, Ariba, an SAP company.

4. Make sure your marketing and supply chain teams are in sync.

“When executing a promotion, a lot of retailers overlook the alignment of the supply chain and marketing teams, which is crucial [if you want] to successfully launch a promotion,” says Pat Sullivan, senior vice president, Promotions Management, HAVI Global Solutions, a consulting company.

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Elemica Discusses 10 Top Supply Chain “E Lessons Learned” in 2014

Elemica Discusses 10 Top Supply Chain “E Lessons Learned” in 2014

Elemica, the leading Supply Chain Operating Network provider for the process industries, discusses lessons learned in 2014 that will deliver value to a company’s supply chain, better positioning businesses to champion their marketplace in 2015. Companies that use these lessons learned to implement evolving practices and gather metrics across supply chain processes will capture new market opportunities and mitigate risk, significantly reduce operating costs, and improve their customer service capabilities.

“2014 was a year of economic growth for many industry sectors, yet there is still room for improvement, especially if a company is on a continuous improvement journey,” said Ed Rusch, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Elemica. “We’ve put together these ‘E Lessons Learned’ from real customer experiences, industry analyst expertise, and our own involvement with peers to help businesses grow and move forward in the New Year.”

  1. Ecosystem – Supply Chains are becoming more of an ecosystem rather than disparate parts, enabling accountability, visibility and agility.
  2. Experience – With customer requirements ever changing downstream, process manufacturers are deploying more sophisticated strategies to keep customer service levels high without resorting to piling on the cost in terms of buffering stock.
  3. Extend – Instead of focusing inward on the company itself, outside-in supply chains put the customer first.
  4. Expectation – Unmet expectations occur when companies attempt to force trading partners to collectively adopt a single standard. Integration across the varied, distributed, and complex needs of thousands of individual trading partners and their respective enterprises, without requiring any of them to change the way they do business, is a reality today.
  5. End-to-End – The process industries are moving away from a manufacturing focus to more of a supply chain view linking supply with demand.
  6. Exponential – The network effect builds when the capability to do more with more makes all the existing participants better off.
  7. Engage – Build better relationships with B2B Social.
  8. Ease – Business Networks enable companies to find common ground with their customers.
  9. Expose – Bring risk and variability to the forefront or expect surprises.
  10. Envision – Master Data Management (MDM) creates a single view of the business.

What have you learn about supply chain in 2014? Share with us in the comment box. Feel free to send us a message for discussion and subscribe to get updates in your inbox.

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