Not just convenience, but ultra convenience. Not just omnichannel, but a personalised, integrative Online to Offline (O2O) experience. The customer of tomorrow is here today, and they want things better, faster, stronger. The way to that ever more demanding customer’s heart is through supply chain, because while many look at the front-of-house as the holy grail of customer experience, great service and brand loyalty start in the back and at the beginning. So let’s talk inbound.
Here are 2 key factors that can make or break your inbound (checklist at the bottom).
1// Collaboration: Stop Guessing, Start Communicating
Even nowadays, supply chains are still largely organised around functional silos, with a single line of communication in each direction. Have you ever played the guessing game? It’s when one person whispers something to the next person, who has to whisper the exact same thing to the next person, and so on. If you have ever played this game, you’ll know that, even with the best of intentions, people change the words and meaning from one person to the next, until there is nothing left of the original whisper. People in supply chain are involuntarily playing that exact game: as the message is passed along the chain, every player changes it ever so slightly, until the person standing at the end is left clueless and confused. Two guesses as to who that last person is. Yup. Your valuable customer.
The solution is to stop whispering in the shadows and start collaborating out loud, together. Establishing a single source of truth and a circle instead of a chain ensures that everyone involved is talking about the same thing. In today’s fragmented and increasingly globalised supply chains, strong communication across company boundaries provides the framework for a healthy relationship, and a happy customer.
2// One Platform, One Network
Once every supply chain partner is looking in the same direction and talking the same talk, they still need somewhere to walk the walk towards inbound perfection. Nowadays, most supply chains are still compartmentalised by company silos, with one line of communication in only one direction. The one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing, unless they have a direct line of contact. This often leads to situations where decisions are made at the front of the chain that are in direct conflict with, for example, the storage capacity of the retailer all the way at the end.
To enable real-time communication and end-to-end visibility, supply chain communication should take place within a cross-functional platform that spans the silos. Uni-directional communication pipelines need to make way for a centralised social network that puts all necessary information at the fingertips of all parties involved. Full visibility and open communication with a protective layer of controlled data access. In concrete terms, this results in closer partnerships with your suppliers, better OTIF performance, less safety stock and a better service level towards that next gen customer. So it’s a win-win-win-win situation.
Are your inbound activities communicated clearly and is there visibility for all stakeholders? This checklist will help you find out.
0-3 answered with ‘No’
Look at you, showing off your inbound skills! It seems you have mastered the art of inbound optimisation through end-to-end collaboration and real-time communication. Now go forth, supply chain Yoda, and spread the gospel.
4-6 answered with ‘No’
They say the first step in solving a problem is to recognise that it exists. So, you’re halfway there. Your inbound processes are heading in the right direction, but they have a ways to go in terms of effective collaboration and efficient communication. Check out our mini-guide for some tips & tricks.
7-10 answered with ‘No’
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: at least in terms of inbound, your supply chain could use some TLC (Tender Logistical Care). Without collaboration and communication, the back-of-house won't get its ducks in a row, and this will ultimately trickle down to whether or not your customer keeps choosing you over the competition.