Future-Proofing Your Customers

February 13th, 2020

Have you thought about future-proofing your customers? In thinking about future-proofing your people, it makes sense to start with your customers.

The statistics are staggering. According to Outbound Engine, acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. We wouldn’t be surprised if the actual cost is far greater if direct and indirect costs are combined. It certainly should give us pause. How do we future-proof our customers?

One way is to focus on the Amazon Effect and providing lighting speed delivery and tirelessly differentiated service. There is no doubt customers expect more. The bar gets higher with each passing day. Thus, we must be ahead of our customers to take a proactive approach to providing a superior customer experience while being cognizant of profitability and working capital.

How will you know what your customers see as differentiated service? Start by listening. Observe your customers and see what might provide value. Ask questions and tailor your solutions to be special for key customers. Find ways to provide these differentiated services while proactively managing the process efficiently and effectively from the internal point-of-view.

To accomplish this feat, it is wise to keep in mind that you are only as good as your #1 asset, your people. We have yet to meet a client with unhappy employees and happy customers. Start by getting your house in order. What do your employees need to be successful? It is more than a training course or occasional pat on the back. Do they know they are making a difference? Are they empowered within reasonable guidelines? Do they know leaders value performance and are willing to address the tough topics?

Investing in employees is the best way to future-proof your manufacturing and supply chain. Expand your thinking on people to your trusted advisors, customers, suppliers and other business partners.

Are you taking the time to ensure a prepared yet agile end-to-end supply chain? Remember, the people within the end-to-end supply chain count in providing an exceptional customer experience!

If you’d like an assessment of where you should invest (time, resources, money) to deliver lightning speed delivery and tirelessly differentiated service, contact us. There are also plenty of free articles and resources on our website. Let us know your thoughts and questions.

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Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Gauges Last Decade Advancement to Position the Next

January 31st, 2020

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – January 29, 2020 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., reaffirms that advancements in manufacturing during the 2010’s has positioned manufacturing for exponential growth in the 2020’s. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“There was so much advancement going on in manufacturing during the last decade that it is almost a blur.  The Amazon Effect, Skills Gap and Digital Revolution have all uniquely impacted manufacturing and the supply chain,” Ms. Anderson comments.

The Amazon Effect has pushed manufacturers to accommodate ecommerce-like orders – more frequent and smaller.  Rapid delivery has also become the new normal.  “The Amazon effect highlighted the need to raise the bar on the customer experience. 24/7 accessibility, customized product and service with a quick turnaround and easy returns have become commonplace, creating a shift in inventory strategy and an increased interest in advanced manufacturing,” she said.

The Skills Gap has grown over the last decade, exacerbated by the low unemployment rate.  “Manufacturers are in a perfect storm, the Baby Boomers with a significant knowledge-base are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day.  That, coupled with the advancements in technology that have changed the types of jobs in the sector, make it difficult to find the right people with the skill sets needed,” she noted.

The Digital Revolution transformed manufacturing. “There was little ramp up to 3-D printing, IoT (Internet of Things), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Automation.  It was almost like one day they were proven and appeared.  This took many by surprise and was a little intimidating.  Yet, those who have taken time to integrate digitization into their organization are already seeing results,” she said.

In 2020, the customer experience and future proofing manufacturing and the supply chain will fast-track proactive manufacturers to stand ahead of the competition and position them for exponential growth. “There are opportunities to export. And, while in the last decade we thought outsourcing overseas was the answer, the trade wars and tariffs along with recent requirements that China put into place has been giving manufacturers pause. Future-proofing requires looking at the business at 360° and driving change,” she concluded.

Ms. Anderson was recently appointed to the Department of Commerce, District Export Council of the Inland Empire. Her collection of 2020 Predictions from Manufacturing & Logistics Executives will be released in February 2020.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.             ###

Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com   



Amazon Kicks off the New Year by Creating Disruption

January 30th, 2020

According to a Bloomberg article, Amazon kicked off the New Year by creating disruption. They have abruptly stopped buying products from some of their wholesalers, looking for ways to bypass wholesalers or push the cost to down the chain and increase profit. If your business depends on Amazon, hopefully you have been future-proofing your manufacturing and supply chain operations.

If not, you might be in a world of hurt! With that said, if you are heavily dependent on any one customer or supplier, you are in a risk-ridden situation.  It makes me wonder whether FedEx’s move away from Amazon was brilliant or whether they took on too much risk moving away from Amazon. Listen to a recent video where I refer to this topic. Are you taking these types of strategic questions into account in your 2020 plans?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Although the impact is obvious to wholesalers cut off by Amazon, the impacts are more widespread than that. Will Amazon be able to go direct to manufacturers? Will they be able to increase profits by squeezing their supply chain without impacting service? What happens, if that isn’t as easy as it appears? Will customers just wait? Are they getting too big or will other e-commerce players have an opportunity? It will be interesting to see.

In addition, no matter if you are related to this industry or not, it will impact you! If new players become involved, the manufacturing and logistics footprints will evolve. Will you be ready for opportunities? Undoubtedly, we will be impacted by changes in logistics infrastructure, rates and service requirements. The question is whether we will let this happen to us or if we will proactively address it. It might be too late to future-proof against this particular move by Amazon, but there will be countless more changes coming by Amazon as well as many other disruptors. Will you be ready to navigate changing circumstances and market conditions for a positive customer and bottom line impact or not?

At a minimum, continually re-evaluate your supply chain road map and think through related impacts. These topics certainly relate to our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including the Amazon Effect, the Resilient Supply Chain and Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



Will Amazon Pass UPS & FedEx?

January 26th, 2020

According to a CNBC article, Amazon is already delivering half of its packages. It appears that Amazon is on target to pass by FedEx and UPS. They have had distinctly different strategies. FedEx curtailed its contract with Amazon in early 2019, and Amazon just retaliated by not allowing 3rd party sellers to ship via FedEx. On the other hand, UPS is doubled down with Amazon. Which will turn out to be better in the long run? And, as we know, USPS has been delivering packages for Amazon behind-the-scenes. Could they come out on top?

Or will Amazon just crush everyone? In recently touring the Ontario airport (the powerhouse in package shipping), it is clear Amazon has a long way to go to catch up in air freight but they are also known to speed by competitors. Amazon is slowly making inroads to ocean shipping as well. No matter who you think might win this race, if you ship or receive anything, you should pay attention!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Simply think about Sears. They were Amazon prior to Amazon entering the scene. Unfortunately, they didn’t keep up with changes occurring, and they are largely out of business. That annoying but not worrisome competitor might just speed by you if you aren’t staying relevant!

Additionally, from a supply chain and logistics point-of-view, there are substantial impacts. With the sheer relevance of the last mile, transportation infrastructure, customer perceptions, technology advancements and much more are becoming relevant. Undoubtedly, no matter your industry, it will be impacted since everyone relates to logistics. Not only logistics, but many industries relate to oil and gas prices or would be impacted by delays in materials etc. The impacts are widespread and substantial. Have you thought through your strategy and positioning based on these factors?

At a minimum, continually re-evaluate your supply chain road map and think through related impacts. These topics certainly relate to our new LMA-i, LMA-Intelligence series including the Amazon Effect, the Resilient Supply Chain and Future-Proofing and contact us if you’d like an assessment path-forward plan to accelerate your bottom line and customer performance.



Should We Listen to all the High Tech Talk?

January 22nd, 2020

Client Question
Should we pay attention to all this high tech talk? Certainly it seems like everyone and their brother is talking about artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and even the use of technologies such as virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. And this is aside from mundane topics such as ERP systems. And,  we need to function on a daily basis. We need to serve customers and deliver value to the bottom line.  And, we prefer to only get distracted when necessary.

The Answer
We have seen clients get carried away with the latest and greatest technology fads. Although it was an interesting personal education, it typically didn’t result in a return on investment. On the other hand, we have also seen clients ignoring technology that becomes vital to survival in their industry. After all, it is easy to do. When Sears used to be the Amazon of the age, no one thought they would be going out of business.

So, as usual, the answer is “it depends”. You must pay attention, learn about and invest in technology so that you can make a good decision on which to pursue and which to ignore for your go-forward business strategy. If it were easy, we would all be successful for 100 years running.  There are VERY few companies in this position. Do you have a position or a person who is dedicated or allocates part of his/her responsibilities to this role? If you don’t call it out, it will fall by the wayside. This should be similar in concept to an R&D/new product focus. Why should we focus only on new products and not new technologies?

Food For Thought
No two clients are alike. Some ask us this question and it is an obvious,: YES, you must invest to stay relevant and increase business value. For others, it is an emphatic, NO. Why waste resources on additional technology when we haven’t implemented or used the available systems capabilities that will move the business forward? As it seems to go in business, it is usually the best executives and CIOs who are on top of their technology road map who ask these questions. The rest won’t even invest enough to find out where they should prioritize limited funds so they don’t become the next Sears!

At a minimum, once you get to a certain size or complexity, the minimum you should do is upgrade your ERP system so that you have a modern technological backbone and can scale up quickly as needed. With that said, it is rarely enough if your goal is profitable growth.

If you’d like a technology and ERP systems assessment, please contact us. At a minimum, read our numerous articles and get started in evaluating your situation!

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