When you imagine a supply chain, what do you see? A tool for driving efficiency and reducing costs? Or a source of business growth, differentiation and new opportunities?
The supply chain has long been a business support function — continually tweaked to meet the demands of customers, technologies and evolving market landscapes.
But today, the humble supply chain is moving up in the business world. Forward-thinking companies are placing the supply chain at the heart of their business strategy, transforming it into a flexible supply network that delivers solutions to the customer and opportunities to the business.
Building a next generation supply chain
A robust supply chain delivers the right product in the right place at the right time for the right people. It also needs to get other elements ‘right’ - like quantity, condition, customer and place.
Before stepping into the competitive D2C (direct to consumer) space, businesses need to be able to align supply with demand. And for that to happen, they need end-to-end marketing that provides seamless brand activation, e-fulfilment and distribution.
The new generation of supply chains needs to be built on visibility, equality and trust.
Keep sustainability front of mind
Every supply chain carries an environmental and social impact. Whether it’s carbon emissions, supplier ethics or plastic footprints, more sustainable practices and mindful decision-making is what defines supply chain success.
Take plastic packaging: more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year – 50% of which is for single-use items.
When it comes to pick-pack-ship, packaging is vital. So, businesses need to promote their brand values through their packaging.
Too much plastic will impact negatively on a brand’s image and the customer experience. But for fragile items, plastic may be the only solution – damages, leaks or bruised items will only reflect badly on the brand.
Bubble wrap and breakables may be best friends, but customers are looking for brands that are actively working to improve their plastic footprint. And for that, they need to embed principles of sustainability into the supply chain and use them to guide decision-making.
Consumers are happy to pass the responsibility of sustainability on to retailers. But in return, consumers who are most engaged with sustainability and ethics are also most likely to buy more frequently.
Companies that find a way to balance green expectations soon discover that sustainability and a healthy bottom line are more compatible then they think.
Gain total trust (through total visibility)
All brands need to create trust – it’s an ongoing process, even for the most well-established of brands. The key to getting this right depends on everyone in the business having fast access to all the information and insights they need to make smart decisions and decisive action.
Having a single source of truth via a web portal not only provides complete visibility, it also instils confidence within the business and builds trust among customers.
By building trusting relationships and reducing friction, businesses are able to speed up transactions and are better placed to command premium prices.
Be innovative, stay competitive
Faced with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and an uncertain future, businesses are having to innovate at breakneck speed.
From pharma companies refocusing their research to find a COVID-19 vaccine to retailers seeking new ways to virtually engage and sell to customers, everyone wants to thrive online, adapt to the new norm, and grow across multiple channels and touchpoints.
As more companies move into D2C, success will fall with those that are able to leverage their supply chains, unlock value, and truly shift their emphasis from cutting costs to promoting growth.