Supply Chain Innovation: The Path to Success!

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Supply Chain innovation article posted on kencogroup.com by Kristi Montgomery.  Permission to publish here provided by Greg Boring at Kenco Group.

Innovation is a team effort requiring collaboration and buy-in from all levels within an organization, and it’s especially true when it comes to bringing innovation to the supply chain.

While new and buzzworthy technologies like drones and robotics are consistently being introduced, innovation for the supply chain is truly a continuum of small improvements that make a greater impact – whether it’s improving processes or the overarching business model.

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Why is Supply Chain Such a Great Career Path?

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When I started my career the term “Supply Chain” had just been coined. As such it was many years before I actually heard of the term “Supply Chain Management”.

Regardless I pursued my interests and took on an increasingly diverse set of progressive jobs as time went on. Now as I look back on my career virtually everything I did falls under the banner of Supply Chain management.

Given the phenomenal opportunities that Supply Chain offers for personal and professional growth it is a career path which I highly recommend to anyone.

What is it about Supply Chain that makes it such an appealing career path?

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6 Trends to Make Supply Chain Managers the Heroes of Their Company!

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Supply Chain heroes article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Adam Robinson on  https://cerasis.com

Supply chain leaders and heroes will face the year with uncertainty and opportunity. Digital technologies are becoming more prevalent in basic supply chain functions, and changes in legislation are likely to spur dramatic changes that will result in the need to reevaluate supply chain strategy in both domestic and international locations.  How can they be heroes?

Similar to the supply chain maturity curve of technologies, as explained by Steve Banker of Forbes, supply chain managers should consider how top supply chain trends will influence operations in the coming year.

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The Amazing Supply Chain of Your Morning Coffee!

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Coffee article written by Julia Severins and originally published on http://allthingssupplychain.com  .  Permission to publish provided by David Weaver.

Even though modern coffee machines offer an attractive variety of caffeinated drinks like cappuccino or latte macchiato, for me it is a simple cup of black coffee that helps kick-start my productivity when the clock strikes 8 am.

This “kick-start”, or boost aspect of coffee was randomly discovered between the sixth and the ninth century. A widespread tale sets the scene in the kingdom of Kaffa, in Abyssinia – which today is Ethiopia – where a shepherd one day observed that his sheep were unusually cheerful after eating white blossoms and red cherries from a previously unknown plant. Further, it is said that the shepherd told monks from the nearby monastery about his new discovery, but they tagged the beans as “Devil´s work” and hurled them into a fire. The delicious smell that rose from the pit of the fire brought on the idea of roasting the beans.

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Breaking your Supply Chain Traffic Jam!

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Does anyone like being stuck in a Traffic Jam?

Prior to one Holiday season several years ago the volume that was coming into the Distribution Centre receiving area was unprecedented and unpredicted.   We were out of room on the docks and we were out of storage space but trucks kept on coming.  And we were still weeks away from being able to ship product to stores to relieve the pressure.

We were gridlocked.  We kept inching our way along but we were very, very close to having this traffic jam of activity shut us down.

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5 Steps for Sustaining Healthy 3PL Relationships!

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3PL Relationships article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Scott Leydin at https://www.3plmanager.com/

The key to sustaining healthy 3PL relationships is very much dependent on the person that is given the role to manage the relationship with the 3PL service provider.

One of the biggest mistakes that many organizations make when they move from the DIY to 3PL model is in the selection of the person they choose to manage the relationship.

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The Future of E-Commerce! (Infographic)

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Future of E-Commerce article created for Supply Chain Game Changer by Josh Wardini.  Infographic originally published by Subscriptionly at https://subscriptionly.net

Thanks to digital technology we can carry out commercial transactions online. We can buy and sell items or services, pay bills, make orders, and so much more.

Online enterprises are heavily relying on this commodity. This is why we have numerous online businesses nowadays.

The infographic below from Subscriptionly will inform you about the current and future tech trends that will influence the ecommerce sector. Some of the main trends are as follows.

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The Benefits of Providing Tracking Information to Customers!

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Tracking information article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Jake Smith at https://www.gopeople.com.au

Online shopping has become an integral part of many consumers’ lives. The increased volume of parcels shows that this new way of acquiring goods and services is here to stay.

While a lot of packages are successfully delivered, sometimes, they can get misplaced, damaged, and in worst cases, lost. For these reasons, many customers will want to know the exact location and status of the items they ordered to ensure that it will safely arrive in their homes.

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6 Technologies that will Change Transportation and Trucking Forever!

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Transportation and Trucking article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Adam Robinson on https://cerasis.com

Modern transportation is currently experiencing major changes thanks to transformative transportation technologies. Although we’ve become accustomed to long international flights, jam-packed public transportation and diesel trucks that only get 20 mpg, the future of transportation promises to change all of that and much more — and it’s closer than many people realize.

Let’s take a look at 6 transportation technologies sure to impact the trucking and transportation industries forever.

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The Downside of Free Returns and Exchanges!

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Returns article originally published at https://www.bringg.com and permission to publish here provided by Raanan Cohen.

A new survey from Brightpearl found that 42 percent of U.S. retailers say they have seen an increase in the number of “serial returners” over the last 12 months.

What’s more, 61 percent of the retailers surveyed said they would ban serial returners.

This is an interesting change in an industry that has put so much emphasis on facilitating free returns and exchanges.

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Which is Better? Amazon FBA or 3PL?

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Amazon FBA article by Dona Dimaculangan of 3P Logistics at https://www.3p-logistics.co.uk/.

E-commerce is defined as the buying and selling of products or services exclusively through electronic channels. If you’ve made an online purchase through eBay, Shopify, Amazon, and other platforms, then you have made your purchase via an e-commerce site.  More and more people spend their time browsing on the internet and the more likely they are to buy stuff online.

Admittedly, the e-commerce industry is booming. Retail e-commerce sales in the United States are projected to grow at a fast pace in the coming years, going from 322.17 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to just over 485 billion US dollars in 2021.

Why You Need Order Fulfillment Services

 If you’re looking for a business that will eventually get you out of your 9-5 job, or looking to expand your existing business, having an online presence and web-based store could fulfill this goal. For beginners in the e-commerce trade, what do you need to do to get more sales, with a lot of online businesses competing for customers’ attention?

Amazon

Customers want products that will give the best bang for their buck with speedy delivery, and good after-sales support. Here’s where the different companies offering order fulfillment services come in.

What is an Order Fulfillment Service?

 Order fulfillment is defined as the steps involved in receiving, processing and delivering orders to end customers. A fulfillment service is defined as a third-party company that provides these order fulfillment steps on behalf of another party, such as an online seller.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of using either Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) or a 3PL for your fulfillment needs.

Fulfillment By Amazon

 FBA, or Fulfillment By Amazon is a business model wherein e-commerce sellers on the Amazon Marketplace, big or small, can have their products stored in any of Amazon’s giant warehouses, pack and deliver them to customers, handle customer support, and returns.

FBA Pros
Expertise and Reach

 Amazon has one of the most advanced e-commerce fulfillment service in the world, can help you scale-up or grow your business and as of the last measured period, the source estimated 90 million paying Amazon Prime subscribers in the United States, up from 63 million in June during the previous year.

Amazon Prime customers are eligible for 2-Day Shipping, Free Shipping and other benefits. If you sign up your products for Amazon Prime, your products are eligible for free shipping, too.

Customer Service and Returns

FBA handles customer service and returns. Listings are displayed with the Prime logo, so customers know that Amazon handles packing, delivery, customer service, and returns.

They handle the fulfillment services side of the business and saves your time, so you can focus on the other aspects of your business.

Multi-Channel Fulfillment

With Multi-Channel Fulfillment, you can fulfill orders from other sales channels using your inventory stored in Amazon order fulfillment centers. Single-source your inventory to streamline your fulfillment operations, manage your inventory through an online user interface and can direct Amazon to return your inventory in e-commerce fulfillment centers at any time.

Cons of using FBA
Customization

Little to no order customization. Sellers must comply with existing Amazon .processes.

Branding

Items are shipped in Amazon boxes. Sellers can ship in generic boxes which may cost extra.

Warehouse Pricing

Storage fees are generally higher compared to 3PLs and usually rise during holidays.

Higher order handling fees for non-Amazon orders.

Communication

Solutions are based in standard processes which may pose little opportunity for dialogue.

Conflict of interest

The fact that Amazon may actually be a competitor to the seller. Amazon is in the business of selling, they just happen to offer shipping services. For Amazon, it’s free product and market research, and they’re making money off you.

Third Party Logistics (3PL / TPL)

Third–party logistics in logistics and supply chain management is a company’s use of third party businesses to outsource elements of the company’s order fulfillment services.

Pros of Using 3PL
Customization

Boxes/bags and all internal packaging are customized to a specific brand. Processes are adapted to your business’ operation and specification.

Warehouse Costing

Attractive storage costs that is variable. Customer pays storage space on a given month. Some 3PLs even offer free warehouse storage for a limited time.

Communication

Has onboarding processes, frequent communication before and after product launch. Collaborative approach is encouraged.

B2B (Business to Business)

Certain 3PLs can handle both B2B and B2C (Business to Consumer) fulfillment, resulting in one e-commerce fulfillment partner for all sales channels.

Cons of Using 3PL
Finding a Trustworthy 3PL company takes time.

Not all 3PL providers are created equal. It takes time to find a good company to work with from the beginning. Once you find someone you can trust, you can rest assured that your goods are being properly cared for. The initial search could be stressful but it will all be worth it once you find a reliable 3PL company.

Bad Service Reflects on Your Company

An inefficient 3PL provider could make your company look bad. Your customers do not care who is in charge of getting the product to them. All they care about is the end result. It is very important to look for a good distribution center early on to avoid customer-satisfaction issues in the future.

Amazon FBA or 3PL in Conclusion

Order Fulfillment Services are a crucial part of your business and a major factor in determining its success or failure. Whether you entrust your fulfillment services to FBA or a 3PL, there is a greater chance that you will be in good hands – these are fulfillment experts, after all.  The key difference is you as the owner,  – what do you want for your brand and what kind of customer experience you want to give to your consumers.

If you are happy to use Amazon’s existing system and tap into their wide customer reach, FBA may be a perfect fit for your company.  If, however, you would like more control over your order fulfillment services, partnering with a 3PL could be the best solution. Make sure your order fulfillment service provider is experienced with the type of operations you need before you entrust them with your reputation.

Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 8, 2018.

Streamline your Entire Distribution Centre or Warehouse at One Time!

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How many times have you looked at your Distribution Centre operation and thought about how you would re-layout and streamline the process flow if you had the chance?

When you are starting with a new, empty facility it is clearly much easier to layout the operations to make the best possible flow of materials and processes.  But when you have an existing operation which has evolved over a long period of time, you are likely faced with utilities, equipment, infrastructure, walls, and paradigms all of which have resulted in a rather inefficient flow of materials and people and processes.

This was the situation we had in one of our Distribution Centres. In this particular Distribution Centre the current layout of the operation had been the result of many iterations of adding new customers, new products and new processes over time with the associated fluctuations in demand for everything.

Yet with the launch of our Global Process Excellence project we had unleashed our employees to make the improvements they had imagined could be made for a long time.

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Rise of the Warehouse Robots!

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Warehouse robots article provided by Mike Futch of Tompkins International at https://www.tompkinsinc.com/en-us/ 

Customer expectations are changing as new sales outlets are being used. With the application of social media, omni-channel and e-commerce customers now have more price options, selections, delivery methods and shopping experiences. The ability of a business to keep the customer satisfied greatly depends on fulfillment capabilities.

Progressive businesses have realized the critical nature an operations strategy has on designing a working supply chain. Combining distribution and fulfillment operations into a single facility has become the base of the supply chain network, as they allow a single location to stock a vast number of products and service multiple channels.

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Blockchain Technology Reshaping SCM!

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Blockchain technology reshaping SCM article originally created and published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Sam Jenks at http://www.kodiakrating.com  

Growing global complexity in supply chain management has forced organizations to look towards technology as their silver bullet; serving as the missing link between people (supply chain actors) and the ability to collaborate at scale.

Blockchain technology is one of the most hyped amongst the currently developing technologies, hypothesized to make one of the greatest impacts in supply chain management — especially procurement and logistics — in the coming years. If SCM tech were a summer reading list, Blockchain would be the Twilight trilogy.

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Seasoned Leadership in Action™! An Interview with Paul Kretz, Head of SCM at Church & Dwight!

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Paul Kretz
Paul Kretz, SCM at Church & Dwight

At Supply Chain Game Changer we believe in sharing experiences and expertise from people in every industry and from across the globe.  As such we have introduced our “Seasoned Leadership in Action™” Interview series at Supply Chain Game Changer.  This interview is with Paul Kretz, Head of SCM at Church and Dwight.

I first met Paul at Celestica.  He left to purse other interests but our paths crossed again later on.  I was at a company that had just implemented a new WMS system in the Distribution Centre.  The system cutover  was a disaster.  And the operation had been run without true Warehouse Management experience as well.  As I looked to recruit a new leader I was looking for a someone who could lead change.

I toured my final two candidates through the Distribution Centre, including Paul.  Their reactions would help me decide who to select.  The other person seemed overwhelmed and lost while looking at the mess in the warehouse.  It wasn’t clear what they would do.  Paul looked at the disastrous situation like a kid in a candy store.  He saw opportunity at every turn.  And instead of  being intimidated by the situation Paul was motivated and inspired.  I found my leader!

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