The secret to making customers care about supply chain

Imagine a world where customers care about how products are sourced, made, and delivered, understand what goes into pricing, and generally take great joy in the experience. A world where customers are fluent in the language of supply chain.

It’s not as farfetched as you may think.

Supply chains solve complex problems. And in the company of supply chain professionals, we use big words and complicated terms to talk about it. Words like multi-modal logistics and global transportation, mass-customisation and postponement, procurement and letters of credit, demand management, the cost of inventory and buffer stock, assurance of supply, warehousing, and the last mile.

We nitpick over the differences between distribution and fulfilment centres, debate the true definition of supply chain visibility and the role of control towers to support orchestration across a complex network of suppliers, trading partners, and carriers. And we’re still not sure if our industries are facing an apocalypse or simply working through the growing pains of transformation in the digital age.

It’s a mouthful. And as we dive into the technical details and jargon that comprise the modern language of supply chain, one can’t help but picture the average consumer’s eyes glazing over.

But that’s not necessarily the case. There’s mounting evidence people care more about supply chain than ever – they’re just not using our words for it.

Therein lies the secret.

The words used to describe supply chain were different at the recent Shoptalk Europe conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a gathering of more than 2,500 retailers, start-ups, technologists, and investors all focused on the worlds of retail, fashion, and ecommerce. Though most attendees weren’t purely in the business of operations and supply chain, all were exploring how to reach, engage, and enlighten the customer wherever and whenever they might choose to shop.

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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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