Customers have become increasingly responsive to new trends and their range of preferences have also diversified, leading to an explosion in the variety of products being sold. High demand for product variety, especially in the case of short lifecycle products like food, apparel, toys, and computers, makes it challenging for manufacturers and retailers to forecast which precise range of products will be a hit with consumers. Extreme competition in the marketplace has forced companies to respond more quickly to customer needs through faster product development and accelerated delivery schedules. Only those companies that offer highly relevant products and deliver them on time receive their customers’ full support and appreciation. Manufacturers and retailers must join forces across the supply chain to become more effective in aligning supply with actual consumer demand.
Read more: Where to apply machine learning for supply chain optimization
Improving collaboration, agility, and visibility are the three most important ways to strengthen your supply chain. Each of these three attributes offers multiple operational enhancements for manufacturers and retailers in the fashion, apparel, and consumer goods industries.
Through collaboration, manufacturers and retailers can meet customer demand better by sharing sales information amongst themselves to generate accurate demand forecasts. Sharing information up the supply chain can help companies proactively adjust to evolving supply demands, which leads to less on-hand inventory. Not only is continued collaboration with dedicated partners the best way to reduce long-term supply chain costs, but it also leads to developments in product and process innovation. Instead of relying on telephone conversations or email, leading enterprises use modern communication solutions that seamlessly transfer relevant business information between trading partners’ enterprise systems. Using a specialized business communication solution based on electronic data interchange (EDI) or more modern direct-B2B technology is a great way to ensure secure, reliable, and efficient partner communication.
High agility enables your business to identify and respond to disruptions to ensure quality customer service. With complete operational integration from manufacturing to delivery, an agile supply chain can adapt to virtually any situation, from vendor reliability issues to unexpected spikes in demand.
Real-time demand data and accurate forecasting make your workflow and production volume more flexible and contribute to greater business output agility. In-depth business intelligence tools can keep track of this information and analysis, and share it with relevant stakeholders across your entire supply chain. More advanced BI tools will notify you if specific performance metrics exceed predefined thresholds that indicate the need for your immediate attention, and cutting-edge solutions use machine learning and heuristics to identify problematic situations, even if they’ve never been encountered before. Techniques like robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent process automation (IPA) can improve agility even further by initiating corrective actions whenever specific events occur. This allows your business to continue operating according to changes in demand, supply, and other market trends, even when human decision makers are not immediately available.
Real-time visibility across the entire enterprise is absolutely crucial for informed decision making, order tracking, and inventory management. When new trends emerge in customer or production data, it is important for this information to be in the hands of people that can make value-enhancing business decisions. Organizations with total supply chain visibility don’t measure business through operational silos, with each department or business function operating in isolation. Instead, they take a cross-functional approach that provides an integrated view and allows decision makers to gauge overall performance. Having a fully integrated solution enables the system to seamlessly pull in information from across the enterprise, including production, warehouse, delivery, and sales.
Fully-integrated ERP solutions can help you enhance your organization’s collaboration, agility, and visibility by unifying all supply chain business functions in an easy-to-manage, reliable, and adaptive manner. To learn more about how to leverage digital technology to reduce complexity and improve communication across the supply chain, contact Visionet Systems.