Consumer Packaged Goods companies are feeling the Amazon Effect as much as anyone. Retail is showing growth, largely thanks to the emergence of eCommerce. With more people ordering online, and brick and mortar locations changing their strategies to compete with online retailers, supply chains are growing more complex. In order to reach and maintain a certain level of service, retailers are tightening their delivery windows, and increasing penalties for missing them. Companies who leverage modern supply chain technology find themselves at an advantage because they’re able to increase efficiency, and meet the needs of today’s supply chain. When modern technology is done correctly, it drives efficiency, saves money, and builds stronger relationships between supply chain partners. If you’re a CPG company, here are some things you need to consider in order to remain competitive.
Fine Tune Everything
The increasingly specific demands of consumers paired with the way competitors are able to leverage technology have created a perfect storm where efficiency is the only refuge. CPG companies have to take every last inch offered to them, and the best way to gain efficiencies and collect data is through technology. Digitization provides CPG companies with the infrastructure they need to automate manual processes, and manage the flow of their products to their customers. Not only does it enable operations to run more smoothly, and automate the shipment lifecycle from end-to-end, but it brings in a wealth of data and visibility that can be leveraged across your entire business.
Leveraging the best technology partners is crucial for CPG companies looking to digitize. Once you have the right technology solutions in place, your supply chain becomes closer to digitization. That means you’re capable of transmitting real-time data to your supply chain partners, and you’re collecting more data than ever. The possibilities with big-data analytics are so vast that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. One thing that is certain is that efficiency, automation, and visibility are driven by the amount of data your company can leverage. In order to get the most out of your data, however, you need to partner with companies who share your strategic vision in terms of modern technology.
Not all relevant supply chain data is created by your own company—your supply chain partners supply data about their own roles in the shipment lifecycle. In order to collect and leverage that data effectively, those partners need to be integrated with real-time connectivity as well. If one of your supply chain partners is still using legacy connectivity systems, their data will be sent in less frequent intervals, making it stale and inaccurate. When everyone in your supply chain is digitized, however, the data transfer is instant, giving everyone outstanding business insights and the tools they need for powerful exception management. As a CPG company, you can push for that change by selecting partners who utilize modern technology, If they want to compete for your business, they’ll get onboard. It will even help their business, allowing them to respond to exceptions, and achieve information symmetry with you and the rest of your supply chain.
As far as data is concerned, one of the key benefits of digitization and collaboration is information symmetry. Information symmetry is when all supply chain partners have the same information, in the same format, at the same time. Some of your partners’ systems might record data a little differently, sending it out in different formats. A smart technology solution will normalize that data before sending it out to supply chain partners. That’s the benefit of a one-to-many integrations—meaning you and your partners are all integrated via APIs to one system that controls the flow of data, ensuring it’s accurate and formatted correctly.
Build Tech Teams
If you’re company’s IT department is focused on legacy technology, they’re probably spending a lot of time trying to get your systems in compliance with your partners’ more modern solutions. This is a bandaid, and it does not solve the larger issue. Digitizing your supply chain will ultimately result in less time wasted for your IT team, and working with modern technologies will increase your odds of hiring top talent. The best IT personnel on the market prefer to work with the latest technology.
The eCommerce market is growing rapidly. Each year, eCommerce increases a couple percent in total retail sales—a trend which doesn’t show any sign of stopping. If you don’t have a clear strategy to leverage eCommerce for you CPG company, you need to implement one now. This is the way customers are going to be finding and purchasing your products, and you need to make it easy for them to do so.
The competitive landscape for CPG companies is changing, and that means your strategies have to change along with it. The recent wave of modern supply chain technology is becoming a competitive differentiator, and digitization is going to set companies apart from the pack in the coming years. Integrating new technologies requires a little work, but if you plan and execute effectively, you can turn this into an advantage.