Immediate and Long-Term Supply Chain Moves for Forward-Thinking Brands (Webinar Recap)

The pandemic has exposed some glaring vulnerabilities in global supply chains. While some businesses were hard hit, others had skyrocketing volume. Whether yours was flexing up or ramping down, the next few months could be full of more uncertainty and disruption as we head into holiday season. Now, we are planning for a “new peak” – in other words, predictable unpredictability in seasonal markets.

How can brands adapt their supply chains to protect profit and sustain growth? In our recent webinar with True North Growth Partners, we explored near-term and long-term moves that businesses can make to stay nimble and resilient. Here's a recap:


Short-Term Moves

1. Be nimble: consider emerging trends.

Businesses are taking "out-of-the-box" measures to keep goods flowing fast to customers and to stores, "going local" to reach their customers. For example, mainstream grocery operators are literally shopping for customers and offering curbside pick-up or home delivery. Home Depot and similar big-box retailers are moving to next-day delivery, leveraging stores and regional/local fulfillment centers to decentralize and forward-deploy inventory. 

Simplifying SKUs, easing payment terms, and relaxing delivery window expectations are additional ways that businesses are ensuring replenishment speed and on-shelf availability. 

2. Focus on real estate strategy.

Capitalizing on what is called the “dark store” trend, there is an opportunity to pick up retail space that has been abandoned by others. For example, “Mall owners are evolving their operations to work with tech-enabled logistics companies to establish micro-distribution hubs in their retail centers,” wrote Tasha Norman in a recent Globe article. “Today more than 60% of mall-based retailers have ship-from-store capability, with malls averaging 950 to 3,200 packages shipped daily, according to Fillogic, the logistics-as-a-service platform.”

3. Use partners to accelerate growth and reduce disruptions.

3PLs and fulfillment partners can quickly provide a fulfillment footprint in new and remote growth markets, making them economical and increasing delivery speed to customers.

We’ve seen some newer fashion apparel businesses recently start up with narrow assortments targeted at specific customers, using fulfillment partners to eliminate the need for costly overhead. They have an extraordinary ability to “get into the season, then get out quickly while making money.”

But for many businesses, last-mile delivery can present challenges that delay or halt this speed.

“When deliveries fail to reach the intended recipient on the first attempt, there are increased costs and decreased customer satisfaction," said Wes Breyfole, SVP of Parcel Solutions at Transplace. "Stepping up to meet these challenges, parcel delivery startups, commercial fleets and ride-share companies are turning to technology partners to help build in visibility and efficiency. For many retailers, this means managing a complex mix of 3PLs, fleets, crowd-sourced and other delivery models to serve their customers.

With Transplace’s acquisition of ScanData and integration of their Parcel Transportation Management Solution (PTMS) with Transplace’s industry leading TMS, shippers and logistics leaders can reduce the complexity and disruptions of last-mile delivery.”

And don't forget about internal partners - your employees! Empowering your team to solve problems and break through old ways of thinking can drive game-changing results. Some retailers are even going so far as to temporarily move office employees to distribution functions in order to keep up with demand and drive more innovation with outside perspectives.

Long-Term Moves

1. Answer the question: where do you make money?

It has never been more important than now to focus on where and how your business makes money - and the answer might surprise you.  Not all customers are created equal. Focus on serving those that are most profitable for your business and grow your share with like customers. Not all products are created equal either. Know which products drive your economics to the positive and change or remove the rest.

2. Find the white space.

White space - those niches in the market that are growth opportunities for a business - is increasing from wayside competitors changing consumer behavior. Moving swiftly to fill that white space will drive growth and create lasting competitive advantage.

3. Assess your end-to-end supply chain.

How do you start to make these moves? Assessing your end-to-end supply chain can be a first step. These low-risk consulting engagements analyze your current state and provide a future state vision with road maps that deliver increased customer and shareholder value through increased operating margins, revenues, and capital efficiency.

The operating model for your supply chain that drove past success is not likely to drive it moving forward. Nimbleness and aggressive moves are fueling profitable growth for today's businesses that are reaping rewards of the 2020 market disruptions. 

Posted by LeanCor, A Transplace Company

blog author

We Teach. We Consult. We Do. LeanCor is a strategic supply chain partner that provides managed transportation, supply chain consulting, and corporate training programs. These three, integrated solutions help businesses better serve their customers by eliminating waste, decreasing costs, and building cultures of continuous improvement.

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