All supply chain managers share one overarching goal: trying to find the most efficient way to satisfy increasing customer demand. And in today’s day and age, supply chain is ever-evolving. New trends and technologies, coupled with globalization, mean that supply chains are the most complex they’ve ever been. This leaves businesses focused on supply chain innovation.
So What is Supply Chain Innovation and Why Should You Be Thinking About it for Your Operations?
Supply chain innovation refers to finding ways to improve the way that items flow through the supply chain from their point of origin to final delivery. With raw materials and goods constantly crossing borders, and with anything less than 2-day shipping beginning to look like a dealbreaker for consumers, thinking outside the box for a competitive edge is key. Supply chain innovation is important for anyone looking to be more efficient and profitable in the long run.
That said, before you look to revamp your systems, you should look at your current operations to figure out what may be missing from existing frameworks. Some of the most important things to take into consideration are:
- How opaque or transparent current supply chain operations are
- How often the same issues occur within the supply chain
- Whether you can easily place accountability if something goes wrong
- How efficiently goods move through the supply chain to their final destination
- How much the company is absorbing in lost, stolen, or damaged product
- General public perception of your products and services.
After you carefully examine your current practices and figure out where there are opportunities for improvement, you can start looking for innovative ways to optimize your supply chain operations.
How Can You Be Innovative When it Comes to Your Supply Chain?
One of the best ways you get moving on supply chain innovation is to be open-minded when it comes to new technologies. Technologies like blockchain, automation, and IoT are revolutionizing supply chain management. If you haven’t started thinking about ways to leverage them yet, now is the time to start.
Thanks to IoT, the amount of data currently available to you and your organization to analyze is gargantuan. All of this data comes together to help you understand your customers, competitors, overall industry and purchasing trends, and so on. This knowledge will ultimately be instrumental in helping you craft your future business strategies, so when it comes to supply chain innovation, the power of big data cannot be ignored.
Additionally, visibility is crucial to today’s customers, and blockchain allows you to be fully transparent with them. It provides a means to “prove” that your marketing claims are accurate and verified, and that your products are to be trusted. And believe me, if one of your competitors is already offering this level of visibility and you aren’t, you need to be thinking about getting on board as well. According to Rhett Power at Inc, “more than 73 percent of consumers consider transparency more important than price [and] nearly 40 percent say they would switch from their preferred brand to one that offered more transparency.” That means that more often than not, a customer will go with a product that they can trust, and blockchain provides a means for that trust.
Lastly, several businesses are already levering automation and robotics with regards to supply chain innovation, and the results speak for themselves. Automation reduces the risk of human error and provides a speedy and efficient means to get tasks completed with minimal supervision. Still, people that are knowledgeable in how to manage these technologies will continue to be instrumental regardless of what new technologies you choose to invest in. So while robotics and automation can certainly give you a competitive edge, they will only be as effective as the crew that you have managing everything.
Ultimately, as per Karin Bursa at Logility and reported by Edwin Lopez at Supply Chain Dive, “supply chain innovation is driven by the need to differentiate.” So ask yourself: what can you do to set yourself apart? How can you give yourself a competitive advantage over your competitors? How can your supply chain operations be cutting-edge and rise above the rest? If any of those answers involve incorporating blockchain into the mix, get in touch with us to request a demo today!