Delivering products, goods, and services to customers on time has become more important and complex than before. As the pandemic spread, organizations had to quickly adapt to the changes and build a supply chain that is efficient and will be able to meet the demand of customers.
In this fast-paced world, your organization needs to be quick and respond to the new changes and transform your business to be competitive, manage the cash flow, and be sustainable and flexible. The consumer and social demands have a lot of effect on the supply chain, thereby forcing organizations to create a unique and transparent supply chain that is swift and will be able to achieve consumer demands.
Earlier, companies were able to keep people waiting to sell their products and keep their business. But these are the days, as everyone is getting impatient and restless. If customers are not able to find a product at your store they quickly move to the competitor.
One of the best examples is, when the shipment of the iphoneX got delayed by 2 months, all the customers moved to buy Samsung galaxy9 and its variants. This shows how important the supply chain is for a business. Digitalization of sectors, such as production, transportation has become complex and all the activities in these sectors have to be done precisely and with utmost care. So here comes the need for an intelligent supply chain.
What is the need for an intelligent supply chain?
One of the surveys conducted in the year 2020 reports that the COVID impacted the personal and financial life of more than half of US consumers and this would last for additional 4 months. After this pandemic consumers have also become more mindful in making purchases by not wasting money and looking for different ways to save money.
The need for an intelligent supply chain is:
- Improved supply chain efficiency
With the introduction of various new technologies like AI/ML and automation into the supply chain, there is a high chance of eliminating human error and also delays thereby improving productivity and efficiency.
- Integrated Planning
An intelligent supply chain connects people, machines and all the assets of the industry. You can have up-to-date information and allow for better communication. Such an interconnected system will enable organizations to visualize the future ahead, take better decisions thereby allowing the growth of the organization.
- Predictive maintenance and fault detection
Using technologies like ML, digital twin helps to visualize the data in real-time and also perform simulation on a virtual world to understand how the supply chain works and responds. Big data can be used to analyze and process the data to detect the faults in the machine and also estimate the remaining useful life of the machine.
As the entire organization is connected, it is easier to exchange information across various sectors of the organization and make wiser decisions using the insights that are obtained and also improve forecasting.
- Improve efficiency and productivity
With the infusion of new technologies, the traditional supply chain can be transformed into a digital one which therefore increases productivity and efficiency.
How Intelligent Supply Chain Helps Businesses Respond to Fast-changing Consumer Needs?
- Address customers’ changing needs
For any organization that fails to understand the changing customer needs, its competitors will and there is a high chance of losing valuable customers. Many companies believe in customer loyalty and expect them to come back again and again.
Companies must adapt to emerging technologies and adopt new practices to serve their customers. This means, opting for smarter solutions is needed for supply chain too. This will improve the quality of operation, while reducing human efforts in related procedures.
- Keep an eye on Changing Market Trends
With intelligent supply chain at work in your business infrastructure, you can:
- Follow the footsteps of the customer to understand them. You should regularly keep a check on what your competitors are offering and lay out new strategies to attract more customers.
- Keep an eye on industry trends and upcoming technologies. Understand the market to launch new services and products.
- Add new services and products
When you start understanding the new trends and study customer behavior it’s time to launch a new product or service. You have to find out new and exciting ways to serve your customer after launching the product. It is a waste of time and does not work out if you keep using the same old methods to serve your customers.
It is advised to develop a new service model to improve productivity and efficiency. For example, take the example of law consulting firms, some bigger organizations require full-time consultation on all their legal proceedings and would be interested to pay on a monthly basis.
Some smaller organizations would require it for a few cases and would be willing to pay on a case to case basis. So, these consultancy firms need to understand the market and devise a normalized payment scheme for everyone.
- To Speed up the current supply chain operations
A company would be able to respond and provide its customers quickly if its supply chain is fast, reliable, and should be able to serve a huge demand. Supply chains become one crucial part of all the business.
For example, consider the case of apple, during the 1990s, apple just had 2–3 three months of stock and another 2–3 months of finished goods. As a whole, they are just projecting 4 to 6 months’ demands, which was not a viable solution. So, they have later made changes in the entire supply chain and they were in a position to project demand of 1 -1.5 years.
- Sales promotion
Many companies think that offering frequent discounts and sales will get them new leads and improve customer loyalty. This only clogs the inventory of the supplier and does not help in increasing sales. With intelligent supply chain solution, you can find out the ways to handle these promotions tactically, while actually making profits.
Other Suggestions to fasten up the Supply Chain
- The most important component of speeding up the supply chain is to scrap off nonmoving goods and products. Most of the companies usually have their inventories filled with old stock which is a waste of place and unnecessarily clogs the entire system. This can be avoided by having a centralized connected system wherein you can analyze the stock and the fast-moving goods in the store. A proper analysis can help in forecasting the demand theory reducing the excess stock.
- Simplify the point of sale system by rolling out mobile applications or web applications to take the order from the customers. As most of the people are now using the internet it is important to design a new system to take and manage the orders. Use industry-standard payment gateways, and also proper customer support to serve them with their queries.
- Another important approach is to segregate the fast-moving goods, slow-moving and non-moving goods. It is advised to have separate supply chains catering to each one of them. The segregation can happen at the manufacturer or supplier end or inside the inventory.
- With technologies like AI and ML, industries can easily manage the assets as they can get prior information about how the particular asset will function and the challenges they would be coming across. With this data, companies can reduce the cost of operation, ensure a neat and safe operation. These technologies can also predict failure beforehand.
- Using technologies like big data can allow retails industries to get insights about the demand and also understand the fast-moving goods. These predictions can help companies to estimate future demand and stock up their inventories to meet the customer’s demand. By doing this, industries will be in a position to reach the consumer demands and deliver the product quickly thereby reducing the lead times. Therefore companies will not incur any loss as they free up the inventory and can use this for other goods.
- Use customer relationship management tools to manage the interactions between the company and the manufacturer. A lot of time gets wasted when there is a communication gap. A proper dashboard helps in tracking the products and goods that come from the supplies.
- The most important component in the supply chain is to manage the fleet. Intelligent technologies like GPS can be used to track the position of the trucks and give a better understanding. Using fleet management software allows management to monitor large fleets, optimize routes and delivery time by analyzing the traffic and customer demand.
There is a long list of different methods to improve the supply chain and provide better services to the customers. But these are a few strategies that will help companies to improve their supply chains to adapt to the fast of moving consumer behavior. We tried listing them above.
Design your supply chain strategy that suits your firm’s objective that is resilient, and should be flexible to the changing needs. For this, you must hire Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning experts with rich experience in supply chain automation.