Four Ways Supply Chain Analytics Can Give You A Competitive Advantage

Four Ways Supply Chain Analytics Can Give You A Competitive Advantage

The rise of Big Data and a greater number of Internet of Things devices and sensors has the supply chain permanently buzzing about analytics. There are a lot of promises and hype to wade through to find the nuggets of truth and value.

We pulled out the shovels and did some of that digging through the mountain to come up with four nuggets we think you’ll want to look at when considering supply chain analytics.

Your Marketing Gets Smarter

A lot of supply chain analysis focuses on moving orders from manufacture to end-customer through your supply chain — we’ll get to those in a second. But, it’s worth starting with a broader look at what supply chain analytics can teach you about your company, including how you can sell yourself.

Running analysis and modeling of your supply chain will give you insights to your on-time performance, average rates, the percentage of customer returns, ability to respond to a crisis, and opportunities to go above and beyond with customer service.

Look at those metrics and see which you ask of your partners. Do you demand 98% accurate and on-time orders? How about asking for 24/7 emergency support? Do you want multiple inventory channels to ensure a natural disaster won’t cause a disruption?

Use supply chain analytics to find out how your company is operating today. Turn the losses into areas where you’ll invest for improvements. Take the wins and slap them all over your promotional materials to showcase your strengths.

Enhancing Customer Service

What’s your biggest obstacle to providing a more consistent and positive experience for your customer?

The answer to that question will change for different industries, departments, and locations in the supply chain. That said, there is one unifying thread for everyone who will try to answer it: they need data to answer it honestly.

Supply chain analytics is core to that data and understanding because it will allow you to track your on-time deliveries, see locations where others may be causing delays, determine inventory shortfalls, or identify bottlenecks that slow your response times.

Today’s supply chain management and analytics platforms are designed to look at your entire supply chain. They’ll monitor actual results and allow you to compare this to your promises as well as those of your vendors and partners. You get a better understanding of your operations and capabilities, allowing you to give clients better estimates as well as identify locations and inventory to leverage when an emergency or error strikes.

Better Understanding of What’s Next

Supply chain brains are always running on two tracks at the same time. They’re the “what’s now” and “what’s next” tracks.

Real-time data with analysis is designed to help you look at what’s going on now. Systems focus on this data delivery because it empowers professionals to adapt and adjust, minimizing risk and creating immediate value.

However, you’ll also benefit from an analytics platform that offers robust forecasting and future demand planning. If you’re able to predict demand, you can respond with practices that reduce related costs, such as pre-staging goods or running a leaner inventory to minimize the expense of storage.

The leaner you run, the better you’re able to offer competitive pricing. Add that to the improved customer service mentioned above, and you’ll be ahead of the pack when it comes to your next RFP response.

Improved Insight for Leadership

Supply chains are long and complex, but we often end up focusing on our small portion when it comes to advancement and improvement. This often happens internally too.

Analytics can help break down in-house silos by creating a repository of data that touches all aspects of the supply chain. Dashboards and tools will allow leadership and executives to get an understanding of each business aspect at a glance, making it easier to look for trends and opportunities across departments.

An added benefit for warehouse professionals is that analytics make it easier to make your case for system and process improvements, like getting a new WMS. Dashboards can show your capabilities as well as where you struggle, allowing you to point out efficiency possibilities in a cost-benefit analysis easily.


About the Author

Explore WMS contributor Geoff Whiting is an experienced journalist, writer, and business development consultant with a focus on enterprise technology, e-commerce, and supply chain development. Outside of the office he can be found toying with the latest in IoT, searching for classic radio broadcast recordings, and playing the perpetual tourist in his home of Washington D.C


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