What Does the Next Gen Supply Chain Look Like?

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The future is here. Technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds in many arenas, including supply chain planning and management. Throughout the supply chain challenges of the past couple of years, from shortages in truckers to strikes and inventory shortages, technology has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, increasing the way many businesses access, monitor, and control the items they need for their inventory. Now, technology is moving toward those next-generation solutions: comprehensive supply chain management strategies that help streamline those efforts, track available inventory, and more.

What does a next gen supply chain look like? 

1. Data

Next-generation supply chains have more data than ever. A comprehensive supply chain solution requires data and insights into every element of the supply chain. You don’t just need to know where your supplies come from and where they’re going. You also need insights into the earlier steps of the chain. Where do your suppliers or builders get their supplies? What about your customers: once they make their purchases, where do they go? As part of this next-generation supply chain, you will have more essential insights into all those key elements, which can help you predict shortages or increases in overall purchasing before they occur. 

2. Planning

The Covid-19 pandemic is an extreme example of supply chain disruption, but it’s not the only thing that can disrupt a supply chain—nor is it the only recent example of supply chain challenge. Supply chain disruption can occur for a number of reasons, including shipping problems, shortages, and even planning issues at the supplier level. Consider, for example, the Toys R Us disaster of 1999, when Toys R Us simply could not keep up with demand and ended up missing out on multiple Christmas deadlines, or the Hershey Halloween challenges of the same year, when Hershey failed to deliver on candy expectations for the season.

Challenges with one supplier can further disrupt others, too, since they can lead to surging demand or shortages of alternative supplies. 

Next-generation supply chains focus heavily on planning for those contingencies. When you have a plan in place before disaster arrives, you’re better able to adapt to whatever may come your way, which puts you in a better place to respond quickly. When you have no plan in place for a disaster, on the other hand, you may have to start by creating a response from scratch, which can lead to further delays and greater overall customer dissatisfaction.

3. Flexibility and Responsiveness

A flexible, responsive supply chain has become increasingly important across every industry. o keep your business flowing smoothly despite delays, you need to have the ability to respond quickly.

That may mean having multiple suppliers, so that you can turn to another source for supplies when they are late to arrive. It may mean having alternative production methods or facilities. It may even mean being able to transfer inventory between warehouses, since you may need to be able to move inventory quickly and effectively. With that responsiveness, you will be in a better overall position to deal with supply chain challenges that may arise. 

4. Redundancies

As part of an effective supply chain, you may need to have redundancies in place to help protect against potential shortages. That may mean having diversified sources for critical goods: for example, you may need to have suppliers who will ship to different ports, or who will use different strategies to help get your goods across the country. You may need to have a stockpile of essential goods, or to be prepared to scale up production faster than anticipated if you notice an increase in demand for critical goods. By preparing ahead of time to ensure that you have the right stock on hand, you can help avoid shortages and protect overall business flow. 

5. Demand Planning

A next-generation supply chain relies heavily on effective demand planning. Today’s businesses have more data available to them than ever. You can track consumer behavior patterns very clearly, thanks to the presence of that data. You may have insights into:

  • The average lifecycle of essential supplies, including how long they are likely to remain popular and what sales look like as that popularity drops off.
  • Seasonal changes in demand for critical items. Your business’s seasonal needs may vary dramatically depending on what type of goods you carry and what consumer buying patterns look like, so accounting for that seasonal demand can make a big difference. 
  • Insight into what other changes might impact consumer buying behavior. For example, supply chain challenges have led to consumers buying earlier for holidays and events, which may impact your sales cycle. 

Demand planning has long been a critical part of managing your inventory. However, for your next-generation supply chain, those demand planning efforts are likely to become more essential than ever—and to rely more heavily on the heavy amount of data present today. 

6. Recovery

Supply chain challenges have become a way of life across much of the world, and they seem unlikely to lift soon.. As part of next-generation resilience, businesses must learn how to recover quickly from the challenges that come their way.

That starts with observation of those key challenges and a fast response. If you do not know that a challenge exists, you cannot respond to it effectively. On the other hand, with data-driven insights and detection, businesses can detect challenges that may impact their supply chain or inventory earlier, which puts them in a better position to deal with those challenges. 

Step Into the Next Generation

We constantly strive to bring our clients into the next generation of supply chain management. Our solution provides comprehensive insights into current inventory, demand planning, and supply chain diversity. Furthermore, we help automate many of those critical ordering processes, which can help avoid human error in supply chain management. Are you looking for the next generation of supply chain management? Contact us today to learn more.

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