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Why customer experience is driving supply chain innovation

Why customer experience is driving supply chain innovation


by Joseph Lim, Sales Director APAC, BluJay Solutions

Today’s consumers expect fast, premium fulfilment at little to no cost. Consumers want choice and control—this means visibility across the delivery process from real-time tracking to instant updates on delays. As a flow on effect, manufacturers, brands and retailers are wielding increasing pressure on supply chain and logistics networks as they scramble to meet consumers’ demands.

Understanding consumer behaviour and keeping up with the now economy through optimisation and end-to-end visibility is vital in today’s economy. Innovative businesses are moving away from competing on cost to delivering on customer experience, according to a recent study conducted by BluJay Solutions and Adelante SCM.

Barriers to innovation

There are many examples of companies that were once industry leaders but have become laggards or are out of business completely; for instance, Kodak, Polaroid and BlackBerry. In most cases, these organisations are guilty of becoming complacent with the status quo.

BluJay Solutions and Adelante SCM’s customer experience research uncovered other common barriers to innovation that supply chain and logistics organisations face. Across all the organisations surveyed, outdated IT systems were reported as the biggest barrier to innovation. Of concern, the majority of laggards and late adopters are still relying on Excel spreadsheets to manage their supply chain. These organisations also reported being held back by siloed systems and processes, lack of support from the organisation, lack of flexibility and innovation of partners and change management hurdles.

These findings suggest leaders need to find flexible, future-proof solutions to continue to innovate. For laggards, if they’re to leapfrog ahead, organisations should look to replace their outdated IT systems with modern solutions that eliminate silos.

Drivers of supply chain innovation

For innovative companies, there is a shift in attention from competing on cost to delivering innovation. A renewed focus on customer experience is the top factor driving innovation and the adoption of new technologies in transportation and logistics.

Despite the hype around emerging technologies, such as blockchain, drones and driverless trucks, organisations still need to get the basics right by putting customers at the centre of their supply chains. To aid with this, organisations should be, and are, investing in mobile devices and apps, control tower visibility, warehouse automation and robots to create a competitive advantage. In general, these technologies are further along the maturity curve than blockchain, drones and driverless trucks and have more established records of delivering benefits—both to the business and end consumer.

Success with supply chain innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive, rather the combination of new, proven technologies and optimising existing processes will lead to desirable change.

Getting ahead – what next?

It’s never too early to plan ahead, especially as the industry is experiencing a steady stream of demand flow through the year instead of traditional seasonal peaks. Businesses should start preparing and putting proper systems in place now.

Moreover, organisations should be constantly looking for opportunities to optimise processes and technologies. It is not enough to let inefficiencies slide by and hope for the best.

Many in the industry continue to take an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude toward supply chain management. However, as the rise and fall of many once well-known companies has demonstrated, there is danger in becoming comfortable with the status quo.

About the Author

Joseph is a highly experienced regional sales leader in the Supply Chain, Industrial Automation, and Security space. Prior to BluJay Solutions, Joseph assumed various leadership positions including as ASEAN Director with Honeywell Safety & Productivity Solutions, Regional General Manager with Datamax-O’Neil by Honeywell and Senior Channel Management Director with Entrust Datacard. His highly consultative and collaborative approach has helped many organisations achieve business improvement and increased profitability through value-driven solutions and automation.