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Posts tagged “supply chain

All Hands on Deck for the Omni-Channel Phenomenon

Implementing a successful Omni-channel distribution strategy requires incredible co-ordination between marketing, information technology, shipping, warehousing, transportation, logistics, suppliers, manufacturers, operations and merchandising — in other words, everyone who even thinks about buying, selling or delivering the product is directly involved in developing the strategy.

It requires careful planning, new business processes, dynamic re-configuration and coordination among all stakeholders. Today’s tech-savvy customer may want to order online for pick up in their local store, have it shipped directly to them from a click to buy button or place their order over the phone for same-day delivery.

Everyone involved in the back-end of the process needs to be on the same page when the buyer finally makes their decision to “push the button.”

Delivering an Extraordinary Customer Experience

The goal is to deliver an extraordinary customer experience across every single touch point. It is all too common to see a customer standing in a brick-and-mortar store talking on a cell phone to a friend, while looking up the product on their laptop.

Millennials and Generation Z buyers think nothing of showrooming. They grew up with it. They want what they want in the right size and color available now, and it needs to be less expensive than everything else they looked at. So, what is the big deal?

Oh, and by the way, if you do not have it, they will go to Amazon.com and have it delivered tomorrow – free. If the customer wants it tomorrow and they are across the country, regional warehouses need product on the shelf waiting for delivery to the retailer or the consumer directly.

The Omni-Channel Phenomenon — Channels Are Blurring

What seems like a simple and obvious buying experience to the consumer requires incredible coordination behind the scenes. All the people and systems behind the scenes, are ready to move when the buyer “clicks to buy” or takes the product off the shelf.

Instantaneous, real-time data goes from the point of purchase to all interested parties in the transaction. Delivering this instant gratification requires tremendous investment in integrated systems and coordination between all internal departments and external stakeholders.

Process Mapping With Everyone at the Table is More Important Than Ever

Practical Suggestions

  1. Engage all stake-holders and initiate focus groups to understand both consumer behavior and internal stakeholders — avoid conflicting metrics and channel conflict at all costs.
  2. Play out all the “what if’s” and known possibilities surrounding multiple buying scenarios.
  3. Develop flexible forecasting models based both on past data and future demand.
  4. Create dynamic work flows and process flows for each type of buying behavior to anticipate where the physical product needs to be and when it needs to be there.
  5. Investigate multiple delivery methods – Amazon is experimenting with drones.
  6. Evaluate existing systems and look for ways to streamline multi-directional delivery of data and product.
  7. Evaluate packaging and shipping methods for maximum efficiency, durability and safely.
  8. Consider sharing inventory across multiple stores and regional centers.
  9. Shorten the space and time from receiving to shipping.
  10. Dynamically reconfigure store and warehouse layouts to maximize floor space and minimize travel time.
  11. Review picking and staging methods to support multiple points of delivery.
  12. Constantly review EOQ’s and JIT based on the realities of new buying behaviors.

Summary

Omni-channel distribution is no longer just about distribution. It is about the entire system working together in a seamless fashion to deliver the customer what they want, where they want it, when they want it for less than every other alternative they evaluated.

It is all about who can move transactional data and physical product most efficiently and economically. This requires real time data movement and physical product handling strategies all working together as one seamless system.

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5 benefits of using a Transportation Management System

5 benefits of using a Transportation Management System

5 benefits of using a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Regardless of industry, a smart business owner or operations manager is always looking for ways to increase efficiency and reduce overhead. In today’s ultra-competitive economic climate, finding ways to increase margins without negatively affecting quality are invaluable. Fortunately, developments in transportation management software have made it possible to increase margins while simultaneously improving efficiency and quality of service.

A transportation management system is one of the best services any company involved in logistics can invest in. However, not all transportation management and warehouse management services are equal. Before choosing which system to use, it is important to understand the benefits of such a system, and to compare cost with the ability to deliver tangible results. While some companies choose to take care of their logistics software needs in-house, there are significant benefits to outsourcing this requirement to a third-party logistics software company. Third-party logistics, or 3PL software gives your company access to experts who specialize in making your logistics process more efficient so you can focus on your core business.

Here are five key benefits of transportation management systems that you should consider when making a decision.

Reduce freight expenses

A good transportation management system will include analytics and suggestions to reduce expenses such as driver overtime, fuel, and inefficient routes. Utilizing data such as where your drivers and equipment are currently located makes it easier to get freight where it needs to go as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Track drivers in real-time

There are numerous benefits to being able to see where your drivers are in real-time. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to gather data about how much time specific routes take in order to build a more efficient schedule. You can also gather data on which drivers are most efficient, and which ones could improve on their time through more efficient routes or better driving habits.

Warehouse inventory management

Even the best-run warehouse can sometimes be a chaotic place. Between suppliers and drivers constantly arriving and departing, inventory always on the move, inbound inventory that must be received before outbound orders can be shipped, and urgent orders that need to be fulfilled coming in at any time, a well-run warehouse is an integral part of the logistics process. Any effective transportation management system will include (or be easily interfaced to)  a robust warehouse management component as well. Warehouse inventory management software will allow vendors, suppliers, and anyone else to set up an appointment. It will also create a consolidated database of incoming and outgoing orders (and assign employees accordingly), and can track where specific inventory is located both in the warehouse, in transit, and once it arrives at a customer or another warehouse. Not only will this data increase real-time efficiency, it will also make it possible to review costs and processes in order to make them more efficient in the future.

Streamlined billing process

One of the benefits of electronically tracking your entire transportation management system is that you will be able to more efficiently handle accounts payable and accounts receivable. A good transportation management system will allow you to automate most if not all processes. The amount of time you’ll save on paperwork alone makes transportation management software worth the investment!

Increase supply chain efficiency

Everything from tracking drivers and inventory to automating accounts payable and receivable processes all work together to increase the efficiency of the logistics side of your business. Depending on the size of your business, the savings can have a significant impact on your bottom line while improving your ability to fulfill customer requests.

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