Secrets to Today’s Digital Age Supply Chain

The rate of evolution of the supply chain today is staggering. Both retailers and restaurants have had to shift their strategy more quickly to remain relevant and competitive amidst rising digital trends. Increasingly, consumers are altering their habits and how they buy products and services. Supply chain leadership should embrace the opportunity to adapt and gain a true competitive advantage for their organizations.

Use these tips to help evolve your supply chain to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the continued digital migration head-on.

1. Visualize and plan for a future supply chain structure that enables online shopping as a primary part of your company’s growth strategy. Online shopping and ordering have arguably become a me too initiative. However, with grocery shoppers and restaurant guests expecting nothing less than the speed and convenience that comes with today’s technology, your company will not be able to ignore this trend towards all things digital.

When organizations decide to deploy online shopping or ordering, the supply chain’s infrastructure must be robust enough to envision several alternative volume and product-mix scenarios. The customer expectation will be, “I want what I want, when I want it, and at a time I want it.” So, the key question is: will your supply chain be able to deliver on that promise?

2. Anticipate that online ordering will create a new series of demand patterns. While increased consumer spending bodes well for restaurants using mobile ordering, the challenge ultimately lies in the fact that mobile payment creates varied demand patterns. While an assured supply could be a first consideration, a close second might be product obsolescence. Today’s supply chains must be able to read and react very quickly to real-time data and have the tools to communicate in an instant to logistics partners, converters, and raw-material/ingredient suppliers what they need to know to avoid waste, inefficiencies, and costs.

The technology and big data we have at our disposal today was not available 10 years ago. Now, it can be used as a strategic tool. Continued innovation and investment ensures data will transform how brands attempt to differentiate – offering heightened dining experiences and convenience while putting the customer in charge.

3. Plan for a labor force that will support the speed at which consumers expect service. Consider the potential labor challenges that could stem from online ordering. For many restaurants, in an industry already prone to labor challenges, technology has the potential to reveal weaknesses in staffing and retention. Employee turnover is a very tangible business threat and disruptor.

Most major restaurant chains now utilize mobile apps to cater to the needs of the American consumer’s ever-changing demands. Offering an onslaught of conveniences and perks – including the ability to order and pay ahead of arriving at a location, view the menu, earn rewards through loyalty programs, play games and more – compels companies to recruit and train their supply chain team members to respond to such created demand variability.

What does your enterprise need to do now to remain relevant?

Adopting 21st century consumer technology while using outdated (and in many cases, non-existent) supply chain technology can perpetuate issues in your revenue and profit stream. Examples include product shortages and stock outs, which can be overlooked in the rush to implement consumer-facing technology. Catering to the technology-driven consumer means leading companies must also make a significant investment in supply chain technology to meet new demand trends.

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