Tag Archive: e-commerce

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.

 



E-Commerce Drives Industrial Space to New Heights

June 21st, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

According to the Journal of Commerce, e-commerce is driving industrial space rents to new heights.  Our clients are definitely experiencing the same dilemma! There has been a 12.1% increase in rental rates since 2017, and the L.A. / Long Beach area has the lowest vacancy rate in the U.S. of 1.2%.  Ridiculously, the average price in L.A. was 60%+ higher than the U.S. average in the first quarter! And, stranger yet, e-commerce is driving class B space (not as desirable) to be snatched up. It is becoming the new class A!  Even Class C (even less desirable) is starting to sell like hotcakes.

Are you prepared for these Amazonian type disruptions?

 

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
First, are you thinking about the disruptors most likely to impact you?  For example, almost every manufacturer and distributor is certainly impacted by Amazon’s rapid delivery expectation.  Have you thought about what your customers expect from you? How about what is required to satisfy – or delight – them?  Undoubtedly, the bar has been raised.

Speed is a more apparent Amazon-related outcome.  Don’t stop there. In order to support rapid deliveries, what will be needed now?  Six months from now? A year from now? Currently, it has made proximity to the ports and customers of utmost importance.  What other impacts have arisen? In this case, e-commerce has changed our shipping and transportation expectations dramatically and permanently – we expect to receive only exactly what we need (whether 1 box or 1 piece) when we need it.  

This has created the need for e-commerce fulfillment operations.  Where would you prefer to locate your operation? Most likely as close to customers and your supply base as possible.  In this case, it means rates are going through the roof – if you can even get them. What can you do to proactively set up your supply chain to support these likely impacts?  And, are you building these estimates into your projections? How will you make effective decisions – can you bring your suppply chain into the process further?

Don’t delay any further….

 



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…..