Essentials of a Healthy Supply Chain Partnership

The supply chain has always been central to providing a satisfying customer experience, but as digital transformation continues to offer labor-intensive services such as overnight shipping and customized products, consumer expectations have never been higher, and the supply chain has never been so complex.

To ensure brands are managing the most efficient, optimized supply chain, they need to reflect on each moving part, including (if not especially) relationships with all their supply chain partners, from warehouse and transportation managers to manufacturers. While there are many facets to these relationships, the best way to tell if your supply chain partnership has good bones is to assess their commitment across a few key areas.

Prioritizing Innovation

Many relationships fail because partners come in with different levels of commitment. When it comes to driving business, brands should not be alone in wanting to be at the forefront of innovation. The most devoted supply chain partners want the best for brands and will work to drive business initiatives by enhancing the services they provide and staying on the leading edge of industry innovation.

This includes keeping their finger on the pulse of new solutions and capabilities, such as IoT or machine learning, and being proactive in bringing them to existing customers’ attention. By continually elevating their solutions—offering brands the most groundbreaking technology on the market—supply chain partners show their matched level of commitment to enrich the supply chain and drive brand success.

Focus on the Customer

Consumers are driving the 2018 supply chain, so for most brands, customer service will be priority number one. The best supply chain partners will know this, as well as understand how various segments of the supply chain—from demand planning to distribution to returns—are imperative pieces in producing quality customer service.

While companies worry about developing a go-to-market strategy and building a customer-facing brand, supply chain partners can worry about the follow-through—ensuring that the supply chain makes the shopping process as timely and convenient as possible. The most conscientious supply chain partners will achieve this by listening to brands’ needs and matching them with existing solutions, such as high-end e-commerce experiences, self-service troubleshooting, and contemporary contact centers.

Ability to change

By offering customers best-of-breed solutions, supply chain partners can also help brands address market needs to get ahead—which requires some flexibility. The digital age demands that brands keep evolving, whether moving online or across the globe, and the best supply chain partners will identify and prioritize market demands and position themselves to help brands transition when needed.

International expansion alone can complicate and lengthen the last mile, introduce financial complexities and more. The best supply chain partners will be able to provide solutions across the digital and physical supply chains to help brands gain access to global networks, build e-commerce platforms, or leverage IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) to increase international visibility.

Starting a check-up with the bones of a relationship is a good way to assess the value of a partnership. Ultimately the ideal supply chain partner both wants what is best for the brand, and already knows how to help the brand achieve that.

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