Tag Archive: manufacturers

The Rise of E-commerce & WMS Popularity During the Pandemic

August 4th, 2020

According to Forbes, COVID-19 accelerated e-commerce growth by 4-6 years. Smart players are taking advantage of the opportunity. Only Amazon takes in more money than Shopify’s websites, and analysts are predicting a 75% annual rise in the next five years.

The ONLY item in common across all clients and colleagues across the board is the rise in e-commerce during COVID-19. In fact, it has been the only bright spot in many cases. As a result, there is an increasing interest in B2C AND B2B software to support improved customer satisfaction and efficient order processing and fulfillment. You do NOT have to sell to consumers to be interested in providing increased value to customers and increasing internal efficiencies!

On a related topic, warehouse management software (WMS) is also gaining in popularity. Not surprisingly, as e-commerce increases, smaller, more frequent shipments become commonplace. So, executives and supply chain leaders are thinking about how to effectively and efficiently handle this increased volume in the warehouse. It is a completely different model than pallet and case shipping in the traditional warehouse. Additionally, unrelated to e-commerce, as manufacturers and distributors work to manage costs to offset the negative impacts of COVID-19, they want to further utilize WMS systems to increase their efficiency and cost effectiveness.

One Tip to Implement This Week:
Although e-commerce and WMS are hot topics in supply chain management, they may or may not be relevant to your situation. The key is to be thinking about what is integral to creating a superior customer experience with increased profitability and cash flow. Does technology support your objective? If so, which technology?

If you have the opportunity to serve customers directly or the opportunity to encourage your B2B customers to place orders through a customer portal (giving them better visibility and accessibility), now is the time to launch a B2B/B2C software. Do a quick review of your situation so you have the facts to assess the best path forward but do not delay. Invest quickly and reallocate/expand resources to take advantage of the opportunity while the iron is hot.

An an example, check out the story of what e-commerce did for the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Similarly, the proactive ERP partners are pursuing WMS and related business analytics to provide extra value to their clients during these turbulent times.

If you are interested in a rapid assessment of your situation and/or an e-commerce, WMS, BI or ERP-related selection to support your growth plans, contact us.

If you are interested in learning more about these types of trends and impacts for manufacturing and supply chain, read my free eBook Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19.



What’s Going On Around the World?

July 11th, 2020

After receiving questions from multiple people about “What’s going on in Asia?”, we dug into what’s going on around the world (at a high level). In today’s globally-connected world, it isn’t a question you can ignore!

Starting with Asia, from a supply chain point-of-view, product continues to move. All three China ports are open and the volume has picked up. China’s capability was back up to at least 80% of the pre-coronavirus levels. However, once China started ramping up after the first infection wave, N.A. and Europe were under lockdown, impacting customer requirements. According to CEOs from across the U.S., they experienced delays initially but it is largely back to ‘normal’. On the other hand, we are also hearing that some folks are experiencing extended lead times. It certainly can depend on the product, material, specific supplier, etc.

Customers that switched supply to Vietnam prior to coronavirus have experienced high levels of service and are generally happy. While there aren’t a lot of numbers coming from Vietnam, it appears as though manufacturing has largely carried on to the levels needed. Of course, if you were in process of transitioning to Vietnam when coronavirus hit, it probably has been put on hold. India shut down for a month during coronavirus but started up essential manufacturing early in the ramp up. India hopes to ramp up manufacturing as companies accelerate the de-risking process from China whereas Vietnam is already in that position and hopes to expand. Japan and South Korea largely carried on through coronavirus. The only noteworthy disruptions were caused by shortages of supplies from their extended supply chain. Overall, there were initial delays with Asian supply, and the degree varied quite significantly based on the source of supply.

With that said, there are increasing levels of concern about a second wave of coronavirus hitting the Asian supply chain. Beijing has been in lockdown with surging cases of coronavirus. Although not integral to the supply chain, it is a bad sign of potential negative impacts to come. It is recommended to bring inventory in ahead of the holiday season and to be cautious with paying cash upfront as several small and medium size Chinese suppliers are struggling.

In Europe, it varied significantly by country. German manufacturers kept operating throughout the coronavirus lockdown. Since they saw the virus coming from what happened in Asia, they implemented social distancing and other protocols throughout rapidly. Certainly, Spain and Italy were impacted more severely and shutdown for a period of time. Several European and U.K. car manufacturers shutdown due to lack of demand and significant disruption in the supply chain. Aerospace companies in the U.S. experienced issues receiving essential components from Europe during the pandemic. Overall, CEOs across the U.S. said that supply from Europe wasn’t interrupted significantly.

U.S. manufacturers of essential products were largely able to continue producing. Of course, depending on the customers’ served, volumes dropped dramatically and disappeared (suppliers to hospitality for example) or experienced aggressive growth (lawn and gardening, toilet paper, PPE).  However, on average, volume dropped to 50-70% of the pre-coronavirus levels. CEOs from multiple industries have said the biggest issue has been disruptions in the supply chain. There are examples of essential U.S. manufacturers experiencing issues receiving materials/component parts from Mexico, Europe and Asia. Not every country had the same definition of essential. Consequently, there is a lot of talk about regional manufacturing and reshoring.

Brazil has been hard hit with the coronavirus recently, and manufacturers have been forced to shutdown. No part of the world has escaped this pandemic! Thus, the global supply chain has come into the forefront and is taking a seat at the table. Are you going to chase your supply chain or build appropriate diversification and flexibility and identify acceptable levels of risk upfront in your strategy discussions?

We are seeing a surge of supply chain strategy assessment and roadmaps. Are you evaluating your supply chain so that you can take charge of your future? There is no such thing as no risk.  Understanding your customer profiles, changing customer requirements and associated product supply strategies is a place to start. If you’d like to discuss your strategy, please contact us.

 

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

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What’s Going On with Asia Supply Chains

June 25th, 2020

 

Supply chains are quite tenuous, and China drives the most volume:

  1. Coronavirus: Beijing is under a soft lockdown with a surge of virus cases. Although Beijing doesn’t impact trade, it is another sign that China vastly under reported previously and it is likely to have a new surge of coronavirus and plant closures.
  2. Manufacturers in China: Small and medium size manufacturers are not doing well. They are struggling to keep up since they had to continue paying people even when they weren’t producing. Are you watching your quality and cash?
  3. Vietnam: so far, they are faring pretty well and companies that moved prior to coronavirus and quite happy with service; if they hadn’t yet moved prior to coronavirus, it is likely on hold due to the disruption.
  4. Global transportation: Volume has picked up at all 3 ports in China (although they are dealing with a short-lived vessel shortage) and we aren’t seeing goods movement issues.

International rates are rising: they are up a hefty 12% from Asia to Northern Europe & 32% on the Transpacific route. They have taken capacity out and are slow to add it back. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what will happen.

 

 

Are you taking the continued disruption into account in your supply chain plans?

 

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

Undoubtedly, you should be thinking about how to proactively manage your global footprint:

  1. Re-evaluate your sourcing strategy: as many are already doing, the least you should do is re-evaluate your sourcing strategy. Generally speaking, the total landed cost for non-commodity products is less expensive in the U.S. than in China. Check your total cost and review multiple sourcing alternatives.
  2. Review your customers’ needs: Undoubtedly, consumer and business buying behaviors are changing during these unprecedented times. What is happening with your customer base? What can you do to get in front of the changes and see opportunities for expansion?
  3. Review your customers’ requirements: Understanding where your customers are located is a good start. It can have a profound impact on your supply chain, where you should produce and how you should set up your supply chain infrastructure. In addition, what expectations do they have? Are they expecting immediate delivery? Are their preferences changing to deliver at home? These questions will have a profound impact on your supply chain setup.
  4. Understand your transportation options: Clearly, understanding the speed, cost and effectiveness of your transportation options will be integral to your supply chain infrastructure.
  5. Understand likely disruption: Do a risk assessment to understand the likely disruption and risk associated with your options. You certainly have a different situation in China vs. Europe vs. Brazil.

Read more about this topic as well as your strategy, priorities, key trends, and your restart recipe for success in my eBook,  Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 . If you are interested in a rapid assessment, please contact us.



Are You Drinking From a Fire Hose in Managing Supply Chain Disruption?

April 10th, 2020

Every client is experiencing unprecedented disruption! Unfortunately, one had to shutdown since their product is considered non-essential. Most others continue to operate to varying levels. Most manufacturers and distributors are considered critical because they supply defense, the construction/ building industry, the food and beverage industry or the healthcare/ medical products industry.

Every client is experiencing unprecedented disruption! Unfortunately, one had to shutdown since their product is considered non-essential. Most others continue to operate to varying levels. Most manufacturers and distributors are considered critical because they supply defense, the construction/ building industry, the food and beverage industry or the healthcare/ medical products industry.

However, it is NEVER that simple. It matters the type of business/ consumer your customers’ customers serve. For example, in one of my food clients, since many Starbucks stores are closed, the products they sell into this channel are down whereas, the products they sell into grocery stores are up. And this is just the customer side of the equation. Do you know who your suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers are? They are likely impacting your level of disruption.

Are you drinking from a fire hose, looking for ideas? Tune into our Navigating Through Volatility webinar series to get up-to-date with the latest status, gain ideas to successfully navigate the disruption and strategies to emerge successfully and well-positioned for success.

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

Look no further than our webinars to learn more about the challenges, concerns, ideas and opportunities for navigating through volatility successfully.

Please share your stories, challenges, ideas and successes. Contact us and please join in our free webinar series and listen to our archives.

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U.S., China Sign Historic Phase One Trade Deal

February 3rd, 2020

According to the National Association of Manufacturers press release, the U.S and China trade deal is an unprecedented phase one win for manufacturers.  Previously the NAM CEO lamented that “China has proven one of the most troubling markets in the world for manufacturers, due to its lack of commitment to free markets, fair competition and reform.” Thus, this statement was high praise for the deal, “It is a remarkable turning point for manufacturers, with the unprecedented and enforceable commitments on critical intellectual property protections to which China has agreed.

There are a myraid of issues in trade with China for manufacturing, and there is debate whether “phase one” went far enough or too far (as both extremes exist); however, according to my recent discussions with international business attorney and China expert John Tulac on future-proofing your manufacturing supply chain, there is quite a bit of risk in China to navigate.

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

Certainly this trade deal relates back to tariffs. Of course, the U.S. agreed to cut tariffs of $120 billion in Chinese goods by half. They also held off on tariffs in December with expectation of the trade deal. Not surprisingly, economists expect this to positively impact growth.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, China agreed to ramp up purchases of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over the next 2 years. Agricultural products will go up by $32 billion over that period, and China agreed to steps that will provide market access for dairy products, poultry, beef and more.

Most importantly to many manufacturers, there is strong language preventing thefts of trade secrets. That is certainly a huge frustration to manufacturers! We definitely aren’t too comfortable relying upon this but it can be seen as progress and eases some concerns. There is also agreement to create a dispute resolution office as well as to not manipulate currency. The bottom line is there is a host of positive outcomes and progress which provides a base to build upon.

By no means should we jump on expanding manufacturing in China as there are plenty of issues of concern. With that said, this trade deal might provide time for you to evaluate what will make the most sense for your business objectives while reducing negative impacts of tariffs. As costs have gone up in China and working capital increases in importance, manufacturers are starting to look at moving operations closer to customers to support quick turnarounds and a superior customer experience. Technology might provide a strategic advantage with 3D printing, AI, IoT, robotics and more. Commodity products with minimal freight costs are moving to other low cost countries. For example, Vietnam loves manufacturing and is rapidly expanding. There are plenty of options to ponder.

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.