Tag Archive: e-commerce

The Global Logistics Landscape

February 15th, 2019

In the past two weeks, I attended the CSCMP State of Logistics event, am preparing for the Future of Supply Chain & Logistics reception event as part of the leadership team and have debriefed with LMA Associate, Elizabeth Warren who attended the State of the L.A. Port and the State of Long Beach Port events. To summarize, I’ll borrow from the Port of L.A.: “Busier, safer, greener”.

Still number 1 and 2 in the U.S., the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach increased volume last year to 9.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and 8.1 million TEUs respectively.  With the threat of tariffs, there was a surge of imports around the holidays, creating record-breaking days in both locations and the second busiest month in history at Long Beach.

Significant progress has been made in terms of air emissions. From 2005 to 2017, diesel particulate matter has decreased by 88%; nitrogen oxide has decreased by 56%; sulfur oxide decreased by 97%; and greenhouse gas by 18%. In terms of targets, there is a goal to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40% in 2030 and 80% in 2050. Certainly, California leads the way when it comes to green and sustainability.

Logistics is around 7.7% of GDP or $965 billion. It has increased around 20% since 2006 yet decreased as a percentage of GDP by 30%. In comparison to other countries, we are far lower with Japan the closest around 11% and China the furthest around 18%. E-commerce is increasing around 15% per year, and it carries high supply chain costs around 25-30% of e-commerce sales.

All modes of transportation were up (airfreight, rail, trucking)! With that said, trucking is 76% of transportation spend and is the 100 pound gorilla. Rates have been on the rise, capacity is tight and shippers have to be more proactive. There are lots of technologies being explored but no near-term, viable solutions to resolve the issues. Again, similar to the ports, there are countless conversations about sustainability.

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

Global logistics is relevant to GDP and to every business that produces, distributes and sells products. Whether an aerospace manufacturer with multiple outside service steps all requiring transportation or Walmart, requiring a supply chain sourced both locally and from afar as well as grocery delivery on the customer side, without logistics, business will cease.

In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace where quick turnaround, short lead times and frequent order changes are the norm, re-thinking your manufacturing and extended supply chain footprint is becoming a necessity. Whether re-evaluating make vs. buy decisions, re-configuring sales channel structures or revising inventory fulfillment practices, logistics is one component that can no longer be an afterthought.  

In our view, those clients with a resilient supply chain will thrive in this new normal business environment.

To learn more about how to create a resilient supply chain to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance, check out our new series or contact us for customized expertise.



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:

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The Resilient Supply Chain: Should We Invest in Technology? 

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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.

 



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: Are You Prepared for AI & Automation?

October 6th, 2018

Will artificial intelligence and automation impact your industry?  Most likely the answer is yes. 

The only question is how. At the very minimum, you should be paying attention so you can make sure you are taking potential advancements into account in your strategy.  

In the accounting industry, AI has the opportunity to transform and automate a significant number of jobs.   Manufacturing has already been impacted by automation. Of course, it is likely to continue to evolve and it has the potential to transform the logistics industry. 

Here are a few potential applications:

  1.  Instructions – Artificial intelligence certainly seems to come in handy when it comes to fixing issues and reviewing instructions.   
  2.  E-Commerce – AI certainly helps to find like-products and complimentary products when purchasing through an e-commerce portal.   
  3.  Intelligent Virtual Assistant – AI can learn how you respond to tasks and requests and answer for you with repeatable and mundane tasks.
  4.  HR Recruiting – Although arguably not as good as an excellent recruiter, AI can find qualified candidates and eliminate legwork in the recruiting task.
  5.  Autonomous Vehicles– Starting within the plant and expanding to trucks and elsewhere, autonomous vehicles are being used to increase efficiencies and reduce risks.
  6.  Robotic Picking Systems – This is one of the largest risks in current logistics operations.  Just as manufacturing has been automating, so will logistics operations. It will be a ‘win’ for costs, efficiencies and speed.  Are you prepared?
  7.  Maintenance – Why go through the long and arduous “old school” view of preventative maintenance when you can look at data and predict exactly what needs to be maintained before it breaks down?
  8.  Customer Demand – The better data on customer demand, the better the entire supply chain can run – quick, efficient and low cost.  
  9.  Repetitive Tasks – Anything that is repetitive is a good candidate to automate.  It will be more repeatable with more consistent quality and at a lower cost.  Are you looking for opportunities?

Look beyond what will directly impact your company.  Review impacts to your end-to-end supply chain. What is likely to disrupt your customers?  How about your suppliers? What can you do to get in front of it?  Thinking ahead and taking action could provide set you apart and provide you with significant opportunity.