Digital Upstream in Retail: Agile Supply Chain

March 19, 2021

Spencer Herder

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Written By Laine Mcpherson

In the ever-changing consumer products goods (CPG) market, retailers need to prepare their store brands with innovation and a quick turn-around time. Thus, the retail industry has caused the modern supply chain to grow increasingly complex. Companies can be more adaptive to the complex market by implementing agile supply chain management strategies. Agile supply chain management is defined as a company’s ability to adapt quickly and navigate through the production of goods promptly. Using agile supply chain strategies is deemed as an additive to your business operations but should be considered a need. Integrating the following four fundamental components into your day-to-day store brand business operations is necessary to build an agile supply chain, continuous innovation and increase speed-to-market

Market Sensitivity

What is market sensitivity?  Market sensitivity relays crucial information to an agile supply chain management process which helps innovative and stay up to date with the current trends by reading and responding to real market demand.

Point of Sale (P.O.S)

Companies are able to read and predict the market through daily Point of Sale (P.O.S) feedback which is accumulated data of previous sales. With the market being so volatile it’s important to analyze the P.O.S to help supply chain management predict future trends in the market.

Competitive Advantage

Companies are able to gain a competitive advantage by staying in touch with the volatile market. Implementing market sensitivity gives the ability to be innovative and be the first to the product market with the newest and latest trends.

Customer Satisfaction

Market sensitivity has another factor relating to customer satisfaction. Consumers drive the market based on their needs and in response, it is very critical to listen to the customers which is something that is so commonly forgotten. Consumers want to be heard and they want to know their wants and needs are being listened to. If consumers are giving positive feedback it shows you are delivering on your end and in effect will generate more sales.

agile supply chain cog gears

Process Integration

Collaborations

Process integration can be defined as the collaboration and communication between suppliers and buyers. In the modern environment a greater dependence on suppliers and alliance partners is unavoidable. With this newfound dependency comes a larger space for trusting partners and their commitment to the collaborations of projects. This has created a new partnership style in which companies can fully leverage the collaboration of information and products between their supply chain networks.

Communication

Communication is key to a successful business. Process integration gives an additional communication aspect by co-managing inventory. Being communicative with partnerships will help navigate effortlessly as well as stay organized and knowledgeable upon what available inventory and supplies. Co-managing inventory helps businesses be equipped with the proper supplies and bring products to market faster. With the ever-changing environment, collaborations have given companies the key to a new door.

New Product Design

Businesses can co-collaborate when working on product design and creating new products to bring to market. Process integration gives companies a platform to collaborate with their network and produce products in line with the market demand in a timely manner.

Virtual Supply Chain

The Virtual supply chain is information-based rather than inventory based.

Previously within an agile supply chain management process retailers used algorithms and formulas to identify inventory and share information regarding the supply chain. Electronic data has changed the industry by giving real-time data instead of relying on distorted and noisy images that emerge when orders are transmitted from one stage to another. By taking a virtual supply chain approach companies are able to share data and information on real demand.

This enables companies to collaborate with their network and see the end-to-end visibility with no distortion of data. This has given a clear projection to management and given them the flexibility to quickly adapt to changes in the business environment.

Network Base

Building a network is like having friends in the business world, critical. By building a network you can find new partners and leverage your partner’s capabilities.

Working Together

Working together as a unit helps companies innovate and respond to the market faster. Supply chains can no longer operate competently under one sole business but rather depend on others to create a supply chain. By working together, you can find other businesses with a comparative advantage.

Comparative Advantage

Comparative advantage is defined as the ability of an individual or company to carry out a particular activity, in this case, supplies, more efficiently than others. When companies use suppliers in which all have a comparative advantage, they are able to create an efficient supply chain and build quality products.

Additional factors to keep in mind

These four strategies help build an agile supply chain. There are additional key components to consider for the business operations of the supply chain to run smoothly. The agile supply chain is characterized by responsiveness, competency, flexibility, and quickness.

  • Flexibility is an important aspect of agile supply chain management. When working on new projects a product might need to shift, or pivot in another direction, and being flexible will help do so.
  • Responsivity ties into being market-sensitive Being responsive is extremely important in the supply chain. The consumer market keeps the supply chain on its toes. Supply chains need to be ready to respond to what the market is demanding. Products need to be brought to market when they are being demanded by the consumer market which is also known as trending.
  • Executing these products competently is critical to a company because consumers will respond to the products produced by a company. Good customer reviews mean higher rates of returning customers and new customers. Keeping all these factors in mind will help your business create and navigate through an agile supply chain.

Supply chain connections on map

Examples of Agile Supply Chain Management

Some of the world’s most famous brands are able to operate flawlessly by using these strategies and carrying out their operations on a daily basis. For example, Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, with over 11,000 stores and $559 billion dollars in sales has functioned by integrating agile supply chain management strategies into their day-to-day business operations. Walmart values its network and uses it to its advantage. Walmart does so by partnering with suppliers which add strategic value and helps drive innovation all while cutting costs.

Benefits of an Agile Supply Chain

There are many benefits to adopting an agile supply chain management style.  Agility is needed in less predictable environments which is perfectly represented by the supply chain and market needs. The supply chain is very complex and by using these processes it gives the necessary resources to transform into an agile supply chain thoroughly and effectively. The industry as a whole learns to adapt to demand fluctuations. Integrating agile SCM strategies allows existing processes to change quickly without disrupting other parts of the organization. By using real-time data firms can project trends in the future and accordingly have plans in place to meet those demands and contingencies if there are deviations from other demands. Companies are also able to accurately predict demand which avoids potential shortages as well as overproducing certain goods. With using a network inventory cost will be lowered and products will be brought to the market faster. This will also help higher a company’s customer satisfaction percentage. Overall, incorporating an agile supply chain into a company will help them gain an advantage in all aspects of the marketplace.

Who We Are and What We Do?

TradeBeyond is an all-in-one sourcing app that integrates all of your store brand business operations into one platform. This makes it easier to navigate inventory, find new suppliers and bring your products to the market faster and more efficiently. This robust app allows companies to collaborate and communicate with their suppliers regarding new and upcoming products. With the help of TradeBeyond, you are able to source, request for proposals, request for quotes, work with existing suppliers or network with new verified suppliers and discover both unique and innovative products. For more on how TradeBeyond can incorporate a more effective agile supply chain into your store brand operations, contact us here

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