Tag Archive: Amazon

The Resilient Supply Chain: Top Requests from Clients on Technology

January 11th, 2019

Next in our supply chain resiliency value series, we are sharing a short video on the relevance of ERP and e-commerce systems from the Manufacturing Summit’s panel “Amazon Effect: Pass or Play – the New Sales & Distribution Game and How it Affects Manufacturing”.

I’m responding to a question on what manufacturers and distributors need when it comes to systems and technology.  Every client in the last few years has requested a project objective that goes back to the overarching goal of scalable, profitable growth.  The trick is how to achieve BOTH a superior customer experience (with increasing pressure from disruptors such as Amazon and Uber) AND profitable growth. Of course, there is no easy answer, and it depends on a multitude of factors. With that said, there is an ever increasing need to scale with technology inclusive of ERP, e-commerce and more.

ERP has become much more of a strategic topic. It isn’t about blocking and tackling and using ERP to achieve tactics.  Instead, it is about whether a business has the technology and systems to scale in a scalable, profitable way.

Do your systems support your customers’ needs?  If not, you had better jump into the fray or the next disruptor will eat your lunch.  If your answer was, ‘yes but I have to do x, y and z to make it work,’ our next question is will this process be repeatable, reliable and profitable?  If not, perhaps you better think twice. It is likely your competitor will answer yes.  Lastly, have you thought about your customers’ needs a year into the future?  If you aren’t prepared to handle them currently, you are getting behind.

Our most successful clients don’t wait so long that they lag behind. Is it time for an upgrade?  You are most welcome to our free resources to determine whether it is  the ‘right’ time. As you debate the benefits vs. costs, keep in mind that as hard as it is to take the leap, the most successful executives are willing to take on prudent risk to make leaps forward.  Are you?

If you would like an expert to assess your situation to determine whether you should further leverage your current software, put the effort into upgrading or simply focus on people and process improvement opportunities, contact us.

 



Amazon, Uber, Netflix and More…..Disruption is Here to Stay!

November 7th, 2018

Although not an official theme, it was quite clear that disruption was the common theme at the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM/ APICS) Annual Conference.

From the keynote speaker, Marc Randolph, one of the founders of Netflix, to almost every executive and thought leader, disruption is top of mind.  Amazon has disrupted retail.  Netflix has disrupted television. Uber is disrupting the transportation industry.  Do you know what disruption is likely to impact your company – and career – next?

Certainly, Netflix is disrupting television and cable currently.  At its roots, it disrupted the video industry.  Blockbuster was a powerhouse when Netflix was getting started.  It was fascinating to hear that discussion!

Marc brought up an intriguing concept – how to disrupt yourself.  To give you the highlights, he discussed three items you need:
1) Tolerance for risk – You cannot wait for full information before you “move”.
2) An Idea – contrary to popular belief, it does not need to be big, new, complex or even good.
3) Confidence.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Marc’s advice is “right on”.  So, how might you go about it?  For our clients, manufacturing and supply chain organizations, disruption is commonplace.  The key question is how do you have any hope of getting ahead of this instead of being buried by the likes of Amazon and other disruptors?  The answer – create a resilient supply chain!

What IS The Supply Chain?
Let’s start by defining supply chain: your end-to-end supply chain, starting with your customers’ customers to your manufacturing and distribution operations to your suppliers’ suppliers and all connections in the middle such as transportation, systems, financials, processes, and most importantly, people.  This is quite the topic to create a resilient supply chain!

We find that the most successful executives start with their team.  I’ve yet to see happy customers with unhappy employees.  You better start there!

Each person in your business is integral to creating a resilient supply chain!  To learn more about creating a resilient team as well as the rest of your end-to-end supply chain, we are thrilled to introduce our new series, The Resilient Supply Chain: Navigating Disruption.  Achieving Peak Performance

We will be adding articles, videos, interviews/ Q&A with thought leaders and executives frequently so please save this link and join in on the discussion. We are always interested in feedback and requests.

 

 

 



Amazon’s Deal with Party City & More Competitors

September 8th, 2018

While I presented on the Amazon Effect to a specialty group of ProVisors (trusted advisors) members focused on manufacturing and distribution recently, Amazon was firming up a deal with Party City to offer an assortment of items. This is just the latest in a stream of retailers collaborating with the competition.  Party City follows Kohl’s (see the sign in the picture below), Sears, Nike, Chico’s and more. This is especially interesting because at our recent Harvey Mudd executive roundtable event, almost every CEO mentioned a time when he/she collaborated with the competition.  Perhaps we should be keeping our mind open to the possibilities?

 

 

 

 

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Since Amazon is willing to search for win-win deals with the competition, who knows what will come next?  Are you impacted by Amazon? Every client we work with has said they are impacted in one way or another – yet 1% actually work or compete directly with Amazon.  They have certainly become a disruptor! Perhaps that’s why such an ‘old’ topic is still requested by several groups in speaking circles.

Who is the Amazon of your industry?  Or, can your company take on that role?  It can be easier to create the rules than to follow behind.  Yet, if no one follows, that can be an equally significant issue, as well.  

It may be worth asking questions of your employees – are they paying attention to what’s going on in the industry and with your supply chain partners?  Do they have ideas that might revolutionize your customer experience? How do you know if you haven’t asked? Or encouraged innovation?

In 100% of our clients, we’ve found employees with ideas that management knew nothing about.  9 times out of 10, the ideas have some merit. You never know…..it may very well lead to being the  disruptor.

 



Should I Move?

July 9th, 2018

Our clients frequently call with questions such as:

  1.  Should we renew our lease?
  2.  Should we move to a lower cost area?
  3.  Should we move to a lower cost state?
  4.  What considerations should we think about when evaluating our manufacturing and logistics network?
  5.  Should we outsource?

Thus, we thought it would be prudent to address some questions and themes that should be evaluated from a strategic point-of-view when discussing supply chain network assessments.  

Let’s start by saying that our top clients begin THINKING about these topics several years in advance. Similar to selling a business, it isn’t the best plan to evaluate whether to renew a lease at the last minute or to be forced into a particular partner or location because you started preparing “too late”.   

Instead, why not think ahead….

  1.  Where are your customers?  – As much as we all want to reduce costs especially in today’s Amazonian environment, we also need to remember that customers expect rapid deliveries, change their mind frequently (and expect agility) and desire easy returns.  Thus, where are you located in comparison to your customers?
  2. What are your customers’ expectations?  – Lead times. Personalized service.  Return policies. Vendor managed inventory.  Future forecasts. What will they expect a year from now?  Are you already planning for these needs?
  3.  Where are your suppliers?  – Similar to your customers, it is important to consider where your suppliers are located as well.  Do you receive product from the ports? If so, what volume is related to the ports?
  4.  What access do you have to people? – We evaluated Nevada for one of our clients. However, when we talked with local contacts to estimate building / lease costs, we also discovered that as low as the overhead might be, freight aside, there were no people.  Tesla had absorbed them all and there were requests to supply people from Southern CA to support current workloads. People can certainly be relevant!
  5.  What type of freight partners/ rates are in place? –  No matter how close you might be to your customer, freight can add up – and, more importantly, delays to your customer are VERY costly (lost business, charge backs from customers such as Walmart, ill will and more).  Just because you have carriers with your current situation, it does NOT mean that will be true with your new situation. Freight is tight and rates are going up! And, remember last mile considerations are complex. Last mile. Last minute!
  6. What type of transportation network is required to support your business?  – In addition to freight considerations, will you need to think about parcel, rail, ocean freight, and other modes of transportation?  Or should you be considering these options?
  7.  What inventory levels are built into your network?  – Inventory = cash tied up.  

There is quite a bit more to think about than solely a cost cutting exercise.  Most clients call due to concerns about cost – as important as cost is, taking the strategic / high-level view can ensure your service, total cost (including hidden costs) and cash flow are maximized.  

Have you started thinking ahead?  If you are interested in our newly upgraded service offering in response to the Amazon Effect of warehousing/ supply chain network assessments, contact us.



Southwest, JetBlue and How People are the Brand

July 2nd, 2018

 

I heard Ann Rhoades, former VP of People for Southwest and JetBlue speak at an Executive Forums meeting.  When JetBlue surveyed their customers to find out what influences loyalty, the results were a bit surprising in that products/ services, operational performance (on-time arrival) and pricing weren’t critical (even though they are known as a low cost airline). Instead, people were the key!   

People are the brand and create customer loyalty.

According to Fortune, the companies that perform best on inclusivity, trust, pride and camaraderie outperform the rest.  Companies that placed in the top 25% by this measure saw higher revenue growth than the ones in the bottom 25%. In essence, people create the brand – and results.  It is logical but do we behave as though this is true? Are you creating a place people want to work?

One tip to implement this week:
In today’s Amazon impacted marketplace, customer expectations are high, pressure on costs is immense and it is quite difficult to find top talent.  Perhaps it is just the time to figure out how to create an attractive work environment to outperform your competition – and enjoy your day-to-day work life.

As Ann said, creating this culture starts with values.  What values do you stand for? Do your employees know your values?  Are they apparent in how people behave or are they just on a piece of paper?  Are you willing to let your top performer go because he/she doesn’t live up to the values?  

 When I was a VP of Operations, we re-set values after barely escaping bankruptcy to set our path forward. It was pivotal to the profitable growth that followed.

Perhaps take a step back and think about your values, talk with your executive team and think about how to “make them come alive”.