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                Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Jul 26, 2021 3:03:42 PM

                Planning is often imagined as a static process: Strategize in advance, then act on your objective. But a static approach only works in a static environment. Today’s global market and playing field is rich, complex, disruptive, and continuously evolving. To consistently deliver on the perfect order, planning must occur across the entire ecosystem, and the approach must also be flexible and agile to adapt and shift gears as needed.

                The pandemic has been a sobering lesson in the critical necessity for preparedness. Initiatives to improve supply chain planning have seen a sharp rise, though the approach is often misguided and continues to build upon a limiting and problematic foundation.

                Here we explore what’s been holding businesses back, and how a holistic supply chain technology strategy will help you embrace complexity to your advantage.

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                3 Supply Chain & Technology Trends Driving Business Success in the New Normal

                Posted by Sophia Shats     Jun 28, 2021 2:30:08 PM

                From a certain angle, it can be said that everything has changed; it could also be said that everything is as it always has been. We have simply changed.

                The supply chain and technology trends explored below have not appeared out of the blue. Like a kind of white noise, globalization and the growth of the cloud and new sales channels were budding in the background, alongside the quiet hum of climate activism and gentle reminders to recycle. In fairly easy and undisruptive times, most can afford to take their time, digitally transform – or not, and maintain legacy frameworks because they’re ‘good enough.’

                The past year has turned that approach on its head. These trends reflect sobering realizations and calls to action. They underscored the urgency, necessity, and value of addressing supply chain complexities head-on, of embracing new opportunities, and of laying the fundamental, technological groundwork needed to avoid making the same mistake twice.

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                It’s 11PM – Do You Know Where Your Shipments Are?

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     May 28, 2021 3:11:00 PM

                The title paraphrases a common nighttime message from my youth. Just before signing off, television stations would ask their viewers: It’s 11pm…Do you know where your children are? It reminds me of a common problem we share in managing our supply chains. We don’t often know the real-time whereabouts of shipments.

                Why might that be the case? After all, delivery status updates are ubiquitous. eCommerce merchants email and SMS the order confirmation, shipment date, interim tracking progress at each leg, and now even predict within hours when a parcel will arrive at your front door. Others do less, providing only the tracking number and leaving it up to the customer to check with the carrier on the status of their package.

                You may be thinking, “that’s a B2C need, not B2B.” Think again. Two months ago, the massive container ship Ever Given held up over 300 ships for six days after getting stuck on the Suez Canal. If you had a shipment on that or any of those affected ships, how prepared would you have been to know the status and adjust your supply chains and customer expectations to keep them running with minimal disruption?

                The unfortunate reality is many companies can’t do this.

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                Insights I Gained About Overcoming Barriers to Digitizing Fulfillment Processes

                Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     May 10, 2021 5:04:25 PM

                It’s no secret that eCommerce has grown dramatically over the course of the pandemic. The rising challenge of omni-channel order fulfillment, in particular for brand owners entering the D2C market, has put a spotlight on manual processes that limit visibility, collaboration, and optimization.

                I recently participated in the webinar: Digital Order Fulfillment: Fast, Visible, and Cost-Efficient Delivery, in which I had an insightful conversation with S?awomir Kluszczyński, COO at Lotte Wedel Businesses, and Nico van den Berg, Distribution Process Lead BA Europe at Electrolux. Both expressed urgency for not just automated processes, but to progress from limited and siloed order flow visibility to full, end-to-end actionable insight. To streamline and improve the effectiveness of dynamic networking and collaboration.

                The challenges they voiced echoed pain points I often hear: Organizations operating within complex supply chains struggle to overcome the limitations of heterogenous systems landscapes. In many cases, companies have made the difficult discovery that their supply chains and existing systems cannot withstand further disruption.

                Yet, we all agreed that digitization is an unstoppable, immanent force that cannot be ignored.

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                The Need for Speed: Don’t Let These Beliefs Slow Down Your Supply Chain

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     Apr 19, 2021 2:59:24 PM

                You can try and blame the need for speed on Amazon, with two-day delivery becoming one day and even same day in some instances. But all they’re doing is perfecting what we all want – immediate gratification. The double whammy of the Amazon Effect- and the COVID-19-induced exponential eCommerce spurt is pulling us along at a faster pace than we ever envisioned.

                The quest is not new, it’s just now entered onto everyone’s radar. It’s been accelerated. With eCommerce growing more in three months than in the previous ten years, the pressure is on for companies to get moving, regardless of industry segment or business model – we are all affected.

                For many, the need for speed is twofold: the urgency to satisfy customers much quicker - whether B2B, B2C, DTC, or brick and mortar – and the subsequent race to get a system in place fast that can deliver on that imperative before your business falls behind. As they say, “time is of the essence.”

                Both types of velocity are incredibly attainable today, so what’s holding companies back?

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                4 FAQs About Supply Chain Control Towers

                Posted by Sophia Shats     Mar 22, 2021 1:58:04 PM

                You’ve likely heard it said countless times: Ask 100 people to define supply chain Control Towers and you’ll get 100 different answers. With a wide array of Control Tower solutions on the market, each with their own capabilities and differentiators, it can be challenging to decide which is the right fit and how to sell it internally. There are also many ways to implement a solution, so even after purchase, your strategic work has only begun.

                Inspired by a recent conversation between principal Nucleus Research analyst, Andrew MacMillen and Alkimius founder and CEO, Mauro Gonzalez, here are some frequently asked questions we encounter on the topic, as echoed in some of their discussions.

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                Software Alone Is Not Enough: Factoring People into Successful Implementations

                Posted by Gerry Daalhuisen     Mar 15, 2021 10:16:05 AM

                “Digital transformation” typically refers to a technological upgrade. Yet, the new technology is just a tool to get at the heart of what’s really driving the initiative: a desire to change and optimize processes. While a tool can have powerful capabilities, its strength and success will inevitably depend on the people implementing and executing it.

                There are many real-world instances of excellent supply chain software that failed to implement. That’s because software alone is not enough; the team you work with is integral to digital transformation success.

                Here are five of the most common challenges businesses face in driving a seamless and successful upgrade, and how the right team and approach – as well as some critical software features – enable a fast and effective implementation.

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                The Omnichannel Alphabet Soup: Structuring the Unstructured

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     Feb 22, 2021 1:57:10 PM

                At the start of my career, most brands and OEMs used a traditional two-tier distribution process through wholesalers and retailers to sell their products. “Advanced” companies passed orders via EDI. Brands knew little about their end-users, a far cry from today’s growing customer-centric approach with expanding arrays of channels and convenience options.

                The ecosystem and number of touch points are expanding fast, prompting businesses to accrue more systems to effectively conduct commerce, and it’s only proliferating. This begs the question: How does each system talk to the rest of the network? In other words, how do all these systems connect to form a single version of the truth?

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                What Exactly Is a Digital Transformation – And Are You Doing It Right?

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     Jan 18, 2021 2:33:35 PM

                For some time, I’ve been reading, watching and following the white papers, case studies, and countless webinars put on by keen minds about digital transformations. I must say, the topic doesn’t feel any clearer. Many would have us believe the elements of a digital transformation should include the likes of IoT, AI, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), ML, Digital Twins, Digital Threads, and 3D Printing.

                In some applications, these transformations are life changing. IoT temperature sensors are enabling the new cold chains for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the use of a digital twin is facilitating the faithful reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

                Such innovation and advancement are truly a marvel; but, for the average business, the expectation feels daunting, expensive, and drawn out. For most companies, a digital transformation involves a more practical approach.

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                Hindsight Is 2020: Top 5 Takeaways for Supply Chain Leaders

                Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Dec 28, 2020 4:17:31 PM

                Coming into this year, no one could have predicted the pandemic and unprecedented disruption to the supply chain – and essentially to all businesses in one way or another. That said, many have been proclaiming the critical necessity for end-to-end visibility, agility, and flexibility for years.

                From learning to adapt to investigating the foundational technological tools that allow brands and logistics service providers to mitigate risk and disruption and provide customers with excellent service under even the most trying circumstances – here are our key takeaways for the year.

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                How Can a Transportation Management System (TMS) Promote Sustainability?

                Posted by Martin Verwijmeren     Nov 30, 2020 4:46:02 PM

                More individuals and businesses are recognizing the impacts of industrial practices, such as greenhouse gas emissions and waste. The growing interest and effort have, in fact, prompted the first annual "State of Supply Chain Sustainability" report, published just last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation and Logistics, and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

                Encouragingly, the report found that nearly half of all companies surveyed now have sustainability goals in place. And, while a third of companies still lack supply chain sustainability goals, today’s transportation management systems (TMS) make it easier than ever before to support green initiatives.

                Intelligent capabilities, like automation and optimization, do more than improve efficiency and revenue – they empower businesses to make more strategic and conscientious choices about who they partner with, how they control the inbound supply chain, and what options they offer their customers to make similarly mindful decisions.

                Here are a few key ways that a TMS can support sustainability goals in your supply chain.

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                The Seamless Shift to a Customer-Centric Supply Chain

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     Oct 12, 2020 4:15:01 PM

                In our first installment on the value of customer loyalty, we discussed the numbers surrounding trust and customer retention. Indeed, in these unusual circumstances, it has never been more fitting to consider the value of customer loyalty.

                Not only has COVID-19 impacted a company’s ability to provide adequate or exemplary customer service levels, but those bound to legacy systems built around silos have found it particularly difficult to quickly respond and adapt.

                In a time characterized by chaos and uncertainty, competitive differentiation will be defined by speed, consistency, reliability, and trust. In a practical sense, that means shifting from reactive to proactive, customer-centric supply chains. For those relying on fragmented processes, the solution is faster and simpler than you think.

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                5 Major Misconceptions About Perfect Order Fulfillment

                Posted by Sophia Shats     Sep 28, 2020 2:52:35 PM

                Whatever the business, perfect order fulfillment is the ultimate aim for any supply chain practitioner. That means delivering on-time and in-full (OTIF) to customers as cost effectively as possible.

                This is no secret, and every business is obviously working to achieve a highly effective supply chain strategy that builds customer loyalty while maximizing sales. The problem is, it’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing or define progress through misleading metrics.

                Let’s demystify some of the most common misconceptions about the perfect order.

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                What Value Is Customer Loyalty?

                Posted by Bryce Boothby     Sep 4, 2020 12:25:25 PM

                My entire career, I’ve believed that it is easier to get more business from existing customers than to develop new ones. That’s not to say you don’t want new customers, but given the effort and expense involved, trusted relationships tend to win out over unknowns.

                Yet, when we think about digital transformation, the topic of customer loyalty is typically an unmentioned benefit and nowhere to be found in the ROI rationale. Why is that?

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                Optimizing vs. Reducing Costs: Is Your Supply Chain Getting It Right?

                Posted by Tom Rhoads     Aug 17, 2020 3:20:27 PM

                Practically every business is – in one way or another – working to reduce supply chain costs. Be it operating costs, freight and logistics spend, buffer stock, or the countless other revenue leaks.

                In the grand scheme of things, revenue growth and cost efficiency are quite complicated and a balancing act to master. The cheapest options are not always the best options; beneficial actions in one business unit may harm another; and optimizing within silos and is not really optimization.

                As supply chain leaders work to recover revenues and drive customer loyalty, business growth, and competitive differentiation, it will be vital to invest in systems and processes that break down silos, better balance priorities, and optimize the supply chain end-to-end.

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