Tag Archive: pandemic

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 in the World of ERP & Business Intelligence?

July 16th, 2020

How Do ERP Systems Work?

I am excited to be featured in SelectHub’s extremely popular and recently updated article, “How Do ERP Systems Work?“. It provides a good foundation into the world of ERP and what you’d do with an ERP system. Although most clients have an ERP system of some type, by NO means do they understand how ERP systems work and the true value of an ERP system.

Perhaps we should spend more time understanding such a critical topic. After all, an ERP system upgrade will be one of the most significant projects your company will embark upon. Although the financial commitment is substantial, the resource commitment is far greater! On the other hand, if you bury your head in the sand too long, your risk will rise to unacceptable levels and your customers’ needs will not be supported.

Naturally, since the pandemic hit, many ERP projects have come to a grinding halt because the first thought is to conserve cash. However, in surveying ERP suppliers supporting clients ranging from small and medium size closely-held businesses to private equity backed companies and large complex organizations, although there has been a slowdown, there are several clients taking the opportunity to get in front of the technology curve so that they will be ready to grow rapidly and profitably as they emerge from the pandemic. They are slowing down some areas of the project while focusing efforts on the critical functionality or areas of the business that need a technology boost. For example, we are working with a client who took the opportunity to develop an IT roadmap so that they’ll be prepared to succeed post COVID-19. To think through your options further, listen to a SelectHub panel discussion on “How to Do ERP During COVID-19“. We are interested in your feedback and stories.

One area that is of common interest is business intelligence (BI) software. If clients can slice and dice data to understand customer and inventory patterns, utilize predictive analytics to better navigate COVID-19 demand changes and support future customer needs, and develop operational dashboards to manage performance and take cost out of the business, what’s not to like? In reviewing the spectrum of available options, there are a few impressive, relatively easy-to-implement tools. Clients are interested in what will deliver immediate value.

Read our eBook, Future-Proofing Manufacturing & Supply Chain Post COVID-19 to dig into these concepts further as well as to start thinking through your technology roadmap.

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

Blockchain, IoT, Big Data. Will Anything Stick?

 



Quoted in Direct Relief About When Supply Chain and Human Behavior Converge

April 23rd, 2020

I talked with the Direct Relief about the global supply chain during the pandemic. We discussed the issues of hoarding, the impacts on the global supply chain and what could be done to realign the supply chain so that consumers had what they needed where they needed it when they needed it. Of course, the question also goes back to the word ‘need’ and how to proactively manage panic buying as well as quickly ramp up the supply chain to respond. I am excited to be quoted in their article “Global Supply Chains and Human Behavior Converge During COVID-19 Pandemic”. Read the article here.

For additional coronavirus information, resources and strategies, please visit the coronavirus resources section of our website.

 



JIT Might Not Be What it is Cracked Up to Be?!

April 2nd, 2020

Just-in-time might not be what it is cracked up to be! Certainly, the coronavirus impacts should give us reason to question this rule at face value. Are you running so tight that you only have one bin, pallet or small supermarket to keep your facility running? If so, the question extends to your end-to-end supply chain.

Let’s assume you are a critical manufacturer struggling to produce key items during this coronavirus pandemic. Your suppliers should not be on lockdown since they support a critical infrastructure business; however, that doesn’t mean you’ll be fine. There are many considerations to review:

  1. Source of supply: Are your suppliers located in Asia and unable to staff during the peak of the coronavirus? Do you know what type of delays you’ll experience? Do your suppliers have contingency plans?
  2. Your suppliers’ suppliers: Even if you have a good handle on your suppliers, do you know the status of your suppliers’ suppliers? In an interconnected supply chain, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Who is your weakest link?
  3. Your transportation infrastructure: Even if your suppliers have product, can it get to you? Within what timeframe?
  4. Backups: No matter how well you’ve planned, the question is whether you have backups for critical materials/ ingredients that will ramp up rapidly as needed. Hopefully your supply chain is diversified geographically.
  5. Your customers: Are you in lockstep with your customers so that you are proactively managing demand or are peaks and valleys a surprise? Of course, the coronavirus was unexpected but the degree you fully understand your customers will determine your reaction time to changes in demand.
  6. Positioning of inventory: Do you have critical inventory positioned throughout your end-to-end supply chain?
  7. Your digital supply chain: Are you able to see into your extended supply chain? It could provide quite a benefit at this point.
  8. Additive manufacturing & robotics: Are you able to keep running with less people, socially distanced people and/or print on demand?

Using JIT (or any concept for that matter) without taking a 360 degree view is a bad idea! The cousin of JIT is lean manufacturing. I gained the attention of Wiley by writing that lean is just uncommon common sense (which of course simplifies it in order to make a point), but perhaps it is something to think more about. Have you put all these trendy concepts through a common sense filter? How about a risk filter? Let’s hope so! Otherwise you can be in a critical business and still not producing and running customers out of stock.

What is the answer? It depends! If you have put thought into your supply chain strategy upfront, considered risks, diversified your supplier base, invested in quality checks and top talent, and treated your employees well, it is likely your version of JIT will prove successful. On the other hand, if you saw JIT as a way to reduce inventory and were short-sighted in looking at your end-to-end supply chain and treating your employees and partners as trusted colleagues, you will likely suffer.

Getting ahead of the curve might be the only avenue to success. Consider creating a resilient supply chain and future-proofing your supply chain. Stay tuned and read more about it, and If you are interested in discussing a supply chain assessment, please contact us.

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

Future-Proofing Your Supply Chain

The Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain