Tag Archive: customer

What’s Ahead in Technology?

January 30th, 2019

To think about what’s ahead in technology, it is important to put it in perspective with what’s ahead in business.  Read our article, “What’s Ahead in Business?” for details on the key trends impacting business:

  1. Importance of the customer experience
  2. Taking the holistic view has become a “must”
  3. Volatility is the new norm
  4. The coming power of manufacturing and supply chain

What’s ahead in technology lines up with these same themes. In order to achieve scalable, profitable growth, technology is an important enabler. The most relevant technology trends include:

  1. ERP Upgrades – More and more companies are realizing that their system infrastructure must keep up with business requirements and customer expectations. As tough as an ERP upgrade can be, it is one of the only ways to make the leap from manual, labor-intensive processes to providing a superior customer experience efficiently.
  2. E-commerce/ Customer Portals – Amazon. Alibaba. Customer collaboration. Need we say more?
  3. Business Intelligence & Data Analytics – We are overwhelmed by mountains of data. We are so anxious to gather data yet we don’t seem to have the appropriate information at our fingertips when we need it. That’s where data analytics comes into the picture. Beyond that, predictive analytics is gaining steam.
  4. Artificial Intelligence – Even my Mom counts on Alexa! In addition, who wouldn’t want a car that self corrects? Predicting customer patterns and behaviors is becoming more important. AI is set to transform many industries over the next several years.
  5. IoT– Smart factories. Smart homes. Connected devices and machines. According to NEWGENAPPS, 60% of global manufacturers will use analytics data tracked using connected devices to analyze and and optimize processes.
  6. Robotics & Automation – Robots may not be taking over the universe tomorrow morning, but they are working hand-in-hand with people to achieve many benefits – improve safety, increase speed and consistency, improve customer satisfaction, fill capacity shortfalls and and increase productivity.
  7. Autonomous Vehicles – Beyond self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous vehicles are used widely in manufacturing and distribution environments.

Are you thinking about which of these technologies will support your business objectives?  Or which are likely to impact your industry?  Consider technology as a key part of your strategy and plans. If you’d like an expert to evaluate which, if any, of these technologies will be relevant to your business, contact us.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on this topic:

Systems Pragmatist

The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology? 

AI, Robots, IoT, Blockchain, Hike!



Holiday Sales are Expected to be UP by Double Digits in E-Commerce

December 17th, 2018

Black Friday has already gotten off to a strong start!  According to Coresight Research, holiday sales are expected to be up by 4% whereas e-commerce will be up 16%!   Target had a goal to hire more than 120,000 people for the holiday season which is a 20% increase. UPS planned to hire 100,000 which is up 5,000 from last year (maybe because they had to spent $125 million extra last year to fix delays because they were short staffed).  And FedEx planned to hire 55,000 additional seasonal workers which was a slight increase from last year (and they expect a record-breaking year).

Is your business seasonal?  What are you expecting? Is anyone in your supply chain focused on seasonal business?  Perhaps you should find out!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Are you prepared for the holiday season?  I find this is somehow a common issue among clients.  The smartest of clients tend to miss holiday season trends.  For example, I worked with one client for several years and key workers took off during the holiday season for extended vacations every year.  Yet, it seemed to be a constant surprise when we struggled to keep up with demand.  Of course, our customer’s demand didn’t decrease, even in a non-holiday industry. Of course, clients focused on consumer products always struggle to predict holiday sales as you cannot start producing in December! When I worked with Coca-Cola Enterprises, employees only got Christmas day off because holidays were always BIG.  

Think beyond your company.  Given the statistics above, do you think your carriers might be a bit busy during the holiday season?  How about your suppliers that might supply other holiday-intensive industries? Your trusted advisors? No matter the supply chain partner, perhaps a heads up surrounding holiday activity and expectations would be a good idea. Holiday season volatility is another good example of why you should create a resilient supply chain to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance.

Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service.



The Resilient Supply Chain: Global Trade Unrest

September 30th, 2018

In today’s Amazonian environment, the customer experience is of paramount importance.      Nothing else matters if the customer isn’t happy. Thus, all the conversations going on about trade really just come back to the customer.  What is the best way to service your customers?

 

 

In manufacturing circles, there are many elements converging to strengthen manufacturing in the United States:

  • There are lots and lots of customers in the U.S. and they all want products and services delivered rapidly (making it less conducive to producing half way around the world).
  • Customers change their minds frequently and last minute changes aren’t conducive to long transit times.
  • The new tax law has made the tax rates much more comparative to other nations.  
  • Deregulation has definitely made manufacturers more on par with other nations.
  • Technology improvements have made it more cost effective to produce in the U.S.

Globally Interconnected
Even though manufacturing is surging in the U.S., we live in a globally interconnected world.  Very few, if any, clients source 100% of all materials within the U.S. If you go to suppliers twice removed, you’ll definitely be in global territory.  Thus, global trade remains a key issue.

Tariffs
In logistics circles, there is a lot of concern about the impacts of tariffs on global trade.  Will customers still bring in the same level of imports? If not, how will that impact the ports, distribution centers and transportation?  

Interesting that it hasn’t slowed down yet. The ports are having a record breaking year. We’ve seen price increases start to occur as they are passed on to the next person in the supply chain.  However, the question remains – is this good or bad? And will it substantially change the supply chain in any way?

Global Trade
Certainly there are a lot of heated discussions surrounding global trade.  We have clients who are positively impacted because it just makes them more competitive and on par with the rest of their industry.  And we have clients who are up in arms because their raw material prices are increasing and they are concerned about how to pass it on to their customers.  Will this put them at a disadvantage vs. a competitor who doesn’t source from overseas? Or does it just even the playing field?

Strategic Questions and Decisions
Strategic decisions are beginning to be impacted as well.  For example, Ford decided to not produce a new small car in China.  With the 25% import tariffs, it no longer made financial sense. A few clients are thinking about whether to expand into Mexico and the U.S.  There is uncertainty with NAFTA . However, the experts believe something will carry forward. Perhaps with a resilient supply chain, the key is to not guess and focus on your customer.  If your customers are in the U.S., Mexico is closer to the U.S. than China. That is a fact that won’t change. One thing is definite – things will continue to change and evolve.

Have you built resiliency into your supply chain so you can successfully navigate ever changing business conditions?



It’s a Small World & the Customer Experience

September 7th, 2018

A few weeks ago, my brothers and nephew were in town and we did a whirlwind tour of Southern California hot spots.  We went to Universal Studios, Oceanside beach, a day-trip to San Diego for various food hot spots (a few favorites for the Arizona contingent) and to Disneyland/California Adventure.  While there, we went on my favorite ride: It’s a Small World.  What a great job they do at making the total customer experience!

Disney does a fabulous job of creating a complete experience.  In the case of It’s a Small World, you’ll notice their use of color and sound.  Interestingly, if you look at the boat ahead of us, the guests are wearing Mickey Mouse ears.  Other than sporting events, I’m not sure I can think of another place where people proudly wear hats (and certainly not odd ear hats).  As you go through the ride, there is an underwater scene where the song sounds like it is sung underwater.  Disney always goes the extra mile to fill out the customer experience.  On some rides, they add breezes, smells and more.  When walking between rides, you’ll always find people dressed in costume picking up trash so that the park is in great shape. Are you paying as much attention to your customers’ complete experience?

One great way to get started is to “shop your business”.  No matter your position, try experiencing your company as a customer would.  Are you able to call whoever you might need to talk to without annoying phone system automation?  There was a brief period of time when I called my financial advisor where I was consistently lost in a phone system maze and didn’t receive a return call.  It was amazing how such a responsive and service oriented company could turn into a nightmare with a mere phone system transition.  (Thank goodness he threw it out!)

How easy is it to place an order?  Does your customer service representative have to call you back if you have questions about old orders or does he/she seem to have information at his fingertips?  Can you get information on-line if you happen to need status in the middle of the night?  Do you receive product on-time and in-full (OTIF)?  When you receive your product or service, how does it look?  Are you proud of it or do you see room for improvement?

Now, think about it – all of these items are baseline requirements.  Are you going beyond to provide a superior customer experience?  Are you predicting what your customers’ might need and prompting them?  Are you managing inventory for them?

What else are you doing to stand out from the crowd?

 

 



E-Commerce is on Fire

June 4th, 2018

At the Southern California E-Commerce and Logistics Summit, there was much discussion on e-commerce.  No matter whether you are in a consumer products company (which is typically more geared to e-commerce) or if you are in aerospace, e-commerce principles and implications will affect you.  The bottom line is that we are in the era of the customer:

 

  1. E-commerce is over 10% of all retail sales currently and projected to climb over 15% by 2023 – Customer responsiveness, rapid deliveries and last mile considerations will become commonplace.
  2.  China and the U.S. account for over 80% of the e-commerce growth –  In thinking of customer geography and delivery, it becomes apparent where to focus attention.
  3.  U.S. cross border is expected to grow at 7 times GDP (export) – Correlating with several statistics related to export, there is VAST opportunity to better leverage export since it pales in comparison to import.
  4.  Technology has disrupted retail and transferred power to the consumer  All we need to do is think about our last car purchase.  You can find out exactly what we should pay for a car before ever arriving on the car lot.  Just think mobile technology and the on-line marketplace to start.
  5. Supply chains have been transformed from hub and spoke to localized fulfillment  – These are vastly different models, requiring different levels of infrastructure.  How can we change from one to the other without losing our shirt?
  6.  The customer experience rules! – Similar to what we hear from our clients, very few talk about inventory levels as the #1 priority; instead, it is all about enhancing the customer experience .  Are you geared to achieving this new #1 priority or the old?

Whether you have e-commerce potential in your business, export potential in your business or whether you just want to provide a superior customer experience, pay attention to these e-commerce trends.  

E-commerce is impacting every manufacturer and distributor in terms of service expectations, lead time requirements and growth – do you have a competitive advantage over your competition? What is it? And how will you provide it at a reasonable cost?  

Reason enough to stay tuned and get ahead of the curve…..