The growing demand for instant or overnight deliveries and immediate gratification is forcing companies to adopt new strategies and reorganize their traditional methods. Legacy is causing companies to be challenged by new-age players who are investing in customer-facing, data-driven technology. In an economy that has undergone changes especially post the global pandemic, how can companies move from survival to success?
One plausible solution to this problem is smart fulfillment. Smart fulfillment is a multi-layered strategy that relies on data and analytics to meet customer needs, and proactively develop strategies to forecast market trends. The core is made up of collation and use of the data – collecting it, crunching it, analyzing it – all this to predict changes and help improve your business. There are many ways to improve the smart fulfillment of your business. We’re going to look at the top 5 today:
Data and analytics
Data structured or unstructured, if used meaningfully, leads to seamless prediction of market trends. And you make faster and more accurate production decisions, determine root cause analysis, measure efficiency and opportunity costs between route options, predict seasonal and routine consumer demands. Plus, you can also assess inventory turnover rates, finetune labor management and many other functions that can reduce costs while increasing productivity.
Companies that utilize multiple systems for each function often experience platform incompatibility. Different departments cannot mutually leverage data to analyze trends and hence use manual, time-consuming tools to collect “data dumps” and classify the data for its meaningful use. Through system integration, collective data can flow seamlessly in the supply chain and can be analyzed more easily based on the required KPIs. System integration improves inventory visibility between stores and branches and minimizes human error.
Another positive aspect of having one system instead of multiple systems is the cost of training employees. With the system, employees can understand the system as a whole and how it relates to their specific roles, avoiding duplication of work and poor visibility between departments.
Although the market may be shifting to more machines and artificial intelligence, employees are still the lifeblood of the supply chain. An employee who understands the data being accumulated and how the system works is more valuable than an employee who only knows his specific role and does not know how it relates to the overall situation. Employees who know what data needs to be determined and their importance can even find more effective ways to obtain the specific data they need. Informed employees also eliminate “islands” or information centers where knowledge is concentrated in specific departments or branches.
Silos cause poor communication between departments. If employees are unavailable or leave the company, the vacuum they leave can create data gaps and inaccurate data analysis. Thus, an overall information evangelism is to be encouraged at every professional level to allow employees share a single source of truth.
Automation takes lead
With the continuous growth of market demand, automation through artificial intelligence and technology has become the main content of the supply chain industry. Automation enables seamless collection of large amounts of data.
The way of obtaining data has also evolved from manual to electronic through RFID, mobile computers and scanning devices. All of these are to automate the way the business receives and stores data. Automated systems reduce labor costs and allow large amounts of data to be accumulated accurately and quickly, ready for analysis.
Practice omnichannel distribution
The term omnichannel means multiple platforms around the customer. Customers can buy and receive orders from any channel provided by the company, whether in a store or online. The fiercely competitive market has given birth to this powerful idea that can satisfy customers with different needs. Online purchases include in-store pickup, in-store delivery, and returns. This distribution strategy allows customers to choose the way they want to buy and receive.
For this strategy to work, companies must also achieve seamless interaction between operators, retailers, and 3PL. The shipper should clearly know how many products are shipped according to demand. If their performance time is too long, they will implement supplier diversification to minimize the performance time. Retailers need to know how many products they can and need to hold, and 3PL needs to know where to ship the products at the most efficient cost.