How versatility can supercharge supply chains

posted by Will Lovatt
11 May 2023

The gap between supply chain planning, and the execution of that plan continues to extend, open and broaden.

By the time a supply chain plan has been devised, the world has already changed so drastically since its original inception that it is essentially obsolete. The Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine are just a few examples of where supply chains have been forced to transform with little or no warning.

At the same time, for as many consumers that expect instant gratification from rapid delivery times, a growing number also want sustainable means of delivery so they can reduce the environmental impact of the purchases they make. It’s a perfect storm of factors that highlights the need for dynamic and versatile supply chains to enable effective and reliable direct-to-consumer (DTC) deliveries.

Meeting customer challenges

More end users expect to see options from their chosen retailer to deliver items in a sustainable way. Awareness has no doubt risen of poorly coordinated deliveries creating empty miles and half-empty delivery vans following poorly optimised routes.

It’s not unusual for multiple deliveries to be made to the same address on the same day. Innovation and agility is needed for businesses to both meet consumer demand and keep tabs on the ever-evolving supply situation as macro factors continue to wreak havoc at short notice.

Some of the practical solutions to address these challenges include consolidated deliveries to reduce the number of individual trips to addresses, and click-and-collect order fulfilment options which allow pick-up to coincide with already planned journeys. To bring them to fruition, however, requires technology that is web-based, agile and focused on providing real-time solutions to customer challenges.

Turning to technology

Organisations that wish to grow against the backdrop of a complex supply chain environment must pivot towards technology to provide visibility. For example, order management software can enable transparency of inventory across all distribution centres, retail stores, direct-to-consumer channels and partners.

It can synchronise inventory across these channels, enabling brands to access accurate real-time dashboards and reports and allowing them to assess and react to supply chain challenges.

A Distributed Order Management (DOM) solution enables the optimal fulfilment option for each order, considering available inventory from right across the network including for example distribution centres, retail stores, dark stores or a combination of those sources.

Shipping costs are creating significant pressures, making it necessary to address areas such as over-sized packaging. A modern Warehouse Management System helps to cut the amount of air being shipped by using Cartonisation, ensuring that the packaging used is the optimum size. This reduces those shipping costs and makes sure that space is used as efficiently as possible.

Empowering brands in times of uncertainty

While brands battle unforeseen supply chain challenges, consumers are demanding to be more involved, informed and proactive in the strategies made by organisations. Leveraging technologies can drive more flexible delivery options and provide alternative options to customers as their buying habits change.

Brands can achieve full transparency of supply chain operations across all their locations, stores and partners, enabling them to be versatile and responsive in the face of sudden change as uncertainty continues to be the new normal.

Will Lovatt is the general manager and vice president at Deposco Europe

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