Businesses which fall into the trap of putting too much focus on manufacturing and inventory costs are being held back from their full potential as they fail to acknowledge the inefficiencies arising through weak links in the supply chain.
If you know exactly what your customers want in your products and customer experience—and you're right in your assumptions—you're in an elite group. Give yourself a good, hearty pat on the back before you look to the future. Though you may know what buyers want know, customer demands seem to morph, shift and grow with each new leap forward on the technological timeline. While this phenomenon can seem at odds with your risk management goals within the supply chain, it doesn't have to be—in fact, there's a silver lining to life in the cloud, and benefits to be reaped from a consumer cycle gone digital.
Today's smartphones have everything in them—voice recognition, translators, high-definition cameras, sound recorders. And your store. Ready or not, mobile devices are the new store windows, and if supply chain strategy fails to adapt to that new reality, it risks being left behind. Adding additional layers of complexity is the fact that the "mobile window" into a given store isn't bound by the normal constraints of its brick-and-mortar predecessors. Store hours are now a mere side consideration or may fail to enter the shopping equation entirely. Microsites have bridged the fairly large gap between the effort required to revamp a traditional website and the conversion payoff of new content that promotes sales or particular products. Is your company ready to take the leap?
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is not a flash in the pan when it comes to fulfillment center development. It's an incredibly useful network that's revolutionizing the entire supply chain—from raw materials to consumer delivery. If you've shrugged it off as a whim for larger companies until now, it's time to take a closer look into all the ways a comprehensive buy-in will bring your goals within reach. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many facets a properly-configured IoT weaves its way into.
If internet presence were physical property, microsites might be comparable to plush suites on Park Avenue: Small, highly visible and poised to see a great deal of traffic. Finding the perfect mix of content and design isn't always easy, but get that ecommerce experience right, and your customer roster will grow accordingly. As with many marketing endeavors, the wise newcomers know to scope the competition to start off on the right foot, so here's a peek at three heavy hitters in the microsite sphere:
Specialized marketing isn't a revolutionary concept, but the expression of that concept across digital platforms is really shaking up the playing field. Microsites are the latest volley in the battle for consumer attention. They offer a focused ecommerce experience that larger, "clunky" brand sites aren't agile enough to deliver. They aren’t necessarily the best solution for every marketing need, but in a few specific scenarios they provide benefits that are difficult to overlook. Does your project warrant its own microsite? Here are three niches that provide a target-rich environment for microsite development:
In the world of modern manufacturing, it often seems like every aspect of a business is dependent on innovation — including the supply chain technology. Whether you are exploring different shipping solutions or looking for the best way to store customer data, technology is an essential component of the conversation. In some cases, however, your company’s C-Suite may not recognize the importance of having up-to-date supply chain technology and equipment.
For a customer, the ecommerce experience hinges entirely on getting what they came for - be that a product, an answer or information about what they're seeking. On the business side of selling, this requires an extensive schedule of overhauls—each time something is changed or introduced, the accompanying images, content and site structure must be changed to accommodate it. For an established company site, this constant state of flux introduces its own problems, such as persistent coding errors that can break links or cause images to appear incorrectly or not at all. Security, design cohesiveness and scalability contribute additional complications. The solution? Microsites.
Believe it or not, Newton's first law of motion has a place in the warehouse, specifically among employees. As a "body in motion," the technical savvy of younger workers in the supply chain continues to grow and evolve—so long as their requisite companies embrace that evolution. Through cooperation and adoption, seasoned supply chain professionals are reaping the benefits of efficiency from these Generation Y workers, who are responsible for infusing fulfillment center workflows with innovations like the Internet of Things and more feedback-ready data than ever before.
Like the roots of a tree, your technology touches and taps into more areas of your company than you may realize at a glance. Supply chain technology, in particular, is at the heart of everything from shipping solutions to fill rates; failing to maintain and upgrade it in a timely fashion can lead to a frantic series of patch-fixes that aren't durable enough to survive the long haul. Are you putting your IT infrastructure high enough on your priority list? Here's how to ensure your logistics productivity and growth live in harmony, regardless of what your tech needs may be.
Technology is all about making things better—we wouldn't hop in a horse-drawn carriage to do our grocery shopping or send a carrier pigeon to communicate with friends—so why use outdated supply chain technologies when there are so many innovations hitting the market? If you haven't been keeping up with the trade magazines or chatting about tools with peers, don't worry—you'll find four of the most useful tools available right here.
Which of these unique new options will help your company the most?
Business and consumer innovations often go hand-in-hand, and when it comes to shipping solutions, they're definitely on the same evolutionary page. If you aren't receiving or sending goods with the ease of an end-consumer looking for a new pair of khakis, you're treading on a fault line that's ready to open up beneath you. The litmus test is, thankfully, fairly easy. If you aren't sure that your shipping partners' supply chain technologies are up to the task, ask the following questions:
Communication, at its most basic level in a company, should be a useful exchange of information between two parties — whether they work within the same business or exist in a supplier-buyer relationship. And nowhere is a trustworthy, actionable exchange of data more important than the supply chain, and the recent evolution of supply chain technologies definitely reflects that fact.
From the broad strokes of email base-touching to the narrow details of RFID tracking, here are 3 ways new technology is changing the way we communicate in our supply chains for the better.
The journey of raw materials into customer-held items used to be a fairly straightforward, if limited one. Today, however, supply chain technologies have completely subverted the "relay race" style of link-to-link contact within the chain, expanding and building on fractal connections to make a web of support, supply and shipping that is much more tolerant of disruptive factors.
Tapping into and harnessing this network is one of the most progressive moves a supply chain manager can aim for, offering their company the flexibility to recover from disruptions, an increase in efficiency and a backup course to follow if their main supply lines ever falter.
Social media may have started as a tool in the marketing department, but advances in supply chain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) have given it legs to travel deep into the warehouse. Even if you consider social media a side effect of your technological footprint rather than a direct goal of your efforts, there are still ample opportunities to trip in your day-to-day operational journey.
As procurement markets have become more accessible, a lot of the burden of remaining competitiveness has fallen to the unsung heroes of the supply chain: managers. They are expected to improve costs of fulfillment wherever they can through adjustments and new paths, which means that learning and implementing supply chain technology must be a continually evolving skill in your portfolio.
Some of the most unexpected help comes from data visualization. It may get a lot of credit for wowing the audience in executive presentations or helping tell a story in pitches, but it's actually just as powerful behind the scenes, when applied as guidance to supply chain decisions.
Omni-channel distribution is shaking things up—from consumer expectations to supplier demands on raw materials. As with any great leap forward in business, once the adrenaline of change wears off, the realities of growing pains can be a serious wake up call. Fulfillment technology—once the crown jewel of efficiency—becomes something of a liability as new trails are blazed and new platforms conquered. Feeling a little vertigo from the hop into that sweet spot where sales and multitasking meet? It's time for a much-needed check of your current techology's capabilities.
If you’re not already making plans for how your business can meet the demands of the landscape-changing powerhouse of omni-channel distribution by now, you’re seriously behind the times. Like most paradigm shifts, there's any number of ongoing discussions on who's doing it well and why it's important, but not so many on how you can harness the benefits of omni-channel for your own gain. Thankfully, in a neat little recursive twist, this technology-centric approach to sales revolution is, itself, essentially powered by advanced technology.
If you're looking for a quick-start guide to shoring up your business for omni-channel, look no further: these are the three things you'll need for a strong start out of the gate.
It's no exaggeration to say that nearly everything we use or interact with as a consumer these days is either intrinsically connected to the web in some way, can be connected to the same web on demand, or is in the research and development stages leading there. In business, this is doubly true, especially where a certain trio of acronyms are concerned, making a splash in industry literature and blogs: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
Poised to become as much a part of your fulfillment operations as the walls of your warehouse, the cost of the infrastructure, software, and platforms that will be your link to the Internet of Things (IoT)—both initial set up and maintenance costs—must be factored into your bottom line for accurate fulfillment cost-benefit analysis.
The idea of an "Internet of Things" is a concept infused with a lot of excitement in the consumer wearables and home environment, but what does it mean for your business as you work toward omnichannel distribution? Business thrives with structure, and the natural disruption that smart data brings to the party seems incompatible at a glance. Properly leveraged, however, these connected devices and tools are poised to utterly redefine the way we map a route to success—elevating competitiveness beyond the wildest dreams of any supply chain or operations leader only 20 years ago and smoothing the transition into omnichannel fulfillment.