Indonesia arguably has the most growth potential out of all Asean countries. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Why Customer Experience Is the New Catalyst for Supply Chain Innovation

BY :JOSEPH LIM

DECEMBER 18, 2019

Traditionally supply chains have been orchestrated to service "demand" while keeping costs down. However, in recent years, the supply chain industry's focus has shifted from forecasting product consumption to anticipating customers' preferences and needs.

Southeast Asian countries have seen rapid growth in their economies and consumer markets. According to a study from Facebook and Bain Company, Asean's digital consumer spending will triple by 2025.

Indonesia arguably has the most growth potential out of all the Asean countries – and effective supply chain solutions will be required for the ever-growing, fast-moving volume of goods being transported around the country and wider region.

But what do manufacturers, logisticians and retailers need to do to mine this potential?

Achieving Supply Chain Excellence

Businesses know that supply chains enable customer experiences, but should they prioritize supply chain excellence over price and product?

Recent global research by BluJay Solutions suggests customer experience is likely to become more important than price and product to supply chain innovation.

In fact, two-thirds of respondents believe customer experience will become the number one brand differentiator within five years.

Further, the research shows that successful companies prioritize the end result first – in this case, the customer experience.

Businesses leading in performance and technology adoption place an emphasis on capabilities that deliver tangible benefits to the consumer.

Companies will compete on the basis of customer experience in the near future and businesses need to start aligning their supply chain innovation efforts accordingly. This does not mean cost management is no longer important, rather cost reduction is no longer enough to remain competitive.

The Technology Driving Supply Chain Innovation

According to the research, successful businesses are focusing their supply chain investments in business intelligence, analytics, visibility and transportation.

Every company is building out the ability to see what’s happening across its supply chain, analyze what it sees (which is where business intelligence and analytics come in) and then take informed actions to prevent disruptions and drive continuous improvement.

But with supply chains continuing to get more outsourced and fragmented, global end-to-end visibility remains a challenging goal to achieve.

The good news is, several real-time supply chain visibility solution providers are leveraging advancements in technology such as GPS, mobile devices, application programming interfaces (APIs) and cloud computing to provide organizations and their partners with real-time visibility.

Real-time visibility and data enable companies to quickly and accurately answer the questions they commonly receive from customers, including when they should expect their order, pre-empting delays or route alternatives.

Businesses can leverage this data, coupled with algorithms and machine learning, to provide more accurate estimated times of arrivals, notify customers of upcoming delays and alternative routes.

Businesses need to prioritize and weave data into every function of the supply chain. Not only is data used to keep track of what's transpired but it can predict and drive better business decisions.

When it comes to delivering enhanced customer experience, investing in visibility, business intelligence and analytics is a smart starting point.

Building on partner connectivity, success in the supply chain industry requires a network of trading partners and seamless connectivity to those partners.

The power of a network lies in its ability to bring visibility across the supply chain while offering connections to thousands of potential carriers that have execution capabilities when needed.

Underlying a global trade network should be a centralized, cloud-based technology platform that allows a business to scale up, or down, depending on their needs.

Companies that are electronically connected to their trading partners, through electronic data exchange or using application programming interfaces, can achieve better supply chain performance.

Despite popular belief, true supply chain innovation does not have to be disruptive. Rather than implementing a trendy piece of technology, businesses should start with the end goal and then figure out how. The most important takeaway for companies is to adopt a "results-oriented" mindset and emphasize capabilities that deliver tangible benefits to the customer.

Joseph Lim is the Asia-Pacific sales director of BluJay Solutions, a network solutions and logistics/transportation software company.

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