Let’s have some fun with math. What EDI translator does your company use? For that matter, what ERP, 3PL, or other service is on your short list? Next, how many trading partners do you have? And finally, what EDI, ERP, and other electronic systems do they use? It doesn’t really matter whether you have the answers to these questions. What you would get even if you use the smallest estimates available is a very large number of permutations. How is it possible then to maintain compatibility and also keep up with the accelerated pace of today’s supply chain?
The benefits of automating orders, invoices, and ASNs between your company and its customers are well known. Integrated documents are faster, less prone to error, and improve workflow among your people and systems. At this point, it would be rare to find a major retailer or manufacturer who isn’t using electronic documents to run their businesses. Not so rare, though, are small and medium sized businesses (SMB) still pushing paper. It’s about time for SMBs to make their move, isn’t it?
It's hard to believe that the Holiday season is near - or that for those participating in retail, the season is already well underway. Is it too late to think about making this season better? If you haven't already made the infrastructure and system changes you've been contemplating this year then the answer is likely to be Yes! But there may still be a few things you can do at this late date.
When is a commodity not a commodity? When each individual item is made to order. Not just made for the P.O. but to the specifics of the customer's requests. With traditional supply chain practices it's easy enough to get the order right for the specified number of items in the package. But when that package count is 1, there is literally no margin for error.
It wasn’t long ago that Apple was lauded for its finesse in managing its supply chain. Getting its bazillions of iPhones from China to the US and everywhere else required some groundbreaking advances and a lot of tight controls. Those lessons have gone mainstream as the world took notice and of the company’s strategies and success. And partly because of that expansion, the supply chain now extends to areas as unexpected as social media.
Direct Store Delivery (DSD) is not new but the speed of commerce is having an impact on just how DSD is working… or not working. The old normal pace of delivery just doesn’t cut it any more when store shelves are stocked to the ‘just right’ levels and the costs of delivery continue to increase. For DSD to continue to be the best way to get product to retailers, the technology needs to replace clipboards.
Supply chain processes throw off a lot of data. If you’re a successful supplier who fulfills a significant number of orders then you understand that the detail of the transactions generated by orders, shipments, receipts, and all the miscellaneous transactions associated with every order is just too much to be able to read through, much less make sense of. But every part of your operation from your suppliers to your customers demand some kind of accountability, and it’s your responsibility to know of any problems or even potential problems long before everyone else. But with all the data flowing through your systems, is it even possible to separate the standard data from the trouble signals?
There was a time when companies moved data between applications by using text files, spreadsheets, or (really?) manual input. Those days still exist for companies only processing a few orders every month. The breaking point comes at somewhere around 250 orders per month, and for suppliers unprepared, what they thought would be a great change can be painful and even lead to larger problems.
The US Postal Service is handling more commercial shipments than ever. Traditional carriers like UPS and FedEx are seemingly on every street every day. Getting packaged delivered to the increasing number of customers who make purchases without actually showing up at a store is a world wide phenomenon and one in which cost is an important factor.
Today’s supply chain is no stranger to big data, at least not when it comes to generating it. Think about the millions of transactions passed between trading partners every day that are triggered by the billions of register transactions caused by retail sales. These deluges of data have been both the lifeblood of the supply chain and part of its biggest challenges.