Why you need external insight in your supply chain right now

Date : 19 September 2018

Alex’s latest blog explores how supply chains can create business value by “bringing the outside in”.

Brexit, Blockchain, Big data, Gamification….

These are all terms that didn’t exist just four or five years ago when talking about current trends in supply chain. For many, these terms are now the new norm.

What about HoloLens, Geo-targeting or Dynamic Traffic Support? These are just a few more unfamiliar examples of some of the hundreds of emerging technologies we have seen appear in the last year alone.

So what?

For many organisations, making sense of these new trends and technologies remains a grey area and is often overlooked. Businesses now have access to a wealth of data and more affordable tech, but it’s making the most informed and relevant decisions in this rapidly changing industry that remains one of the industry’s biggest challenges right now.

Traditionally, the role of insight to drive strategic supply chain decisions has been lacking. In many businesses the innovative “go-to” hubs for the latest trends would usually be commercial, marketing, category and shopper teams. This could be reflected in investments in production lines to support new pack formats or retail ready packaging to introduce new products for example.

Driving growth through your supply chain

For many ‘traditional’ retailers and manufacturers the days of sustained healthy growth seems to have gone (for now). Aggressive tactics and strategies targeting sales growth appear to be slowing, and we are seeing an increasing focus on supply chains to help drive growth. Whereas the original focus was on taking costs out through reducing inventory or forecasting more accurately, supply chain agility and responsiveness is seen as the new competitive advantage for many FMCG manufacturers.

To sustain a competitive advantage, you need to stay ahead …

This is where the use of external insight is increasingly being used, from dedicated teams constantly scanning leading markets for the latest trends and technology, to the use of external providers to give an unbiased view of the industry. As the adoption of new technologies and agile working gathers pace, then the importance of this insight rises.

Supply chain leaders say they will rely more on external insight in the future

Source: Supply Chain Analysis

The advantages of external insight

Without external insight or inspiration, then new developments aren’t possible. Freeing up time and dedicated resource could help deliver breakthrough advances across businesses, amongst many other benefits:

  1. Bring fresh thinking into the business
  2. Benchmark your performance and plans against other organisations
  3. Understand the latest market trends
  4. Discover what your customers value
  5. Build capability of your colleagues

A still critically undervalued business area, external insight must be at the heart of your business planning processes to help make the most informed and impactful decisions. The following case study brings shows how a leading solutions provider has achieved breakthrough change across its organisation.

Case Study, CHEP: Building cross-functional capability across Europe

Background: Following strong growth in some global markets, CHEP was keen to ramp up regional performance. The company wanted to take a lead in serving an industry faced with several new and complex challenges. As a result, CHEP’s leadership group saw a need to build supply chain and commercial capability across their European commercial team, starting with approximately 350 team members.

Solution: In consultation with CHEP, IGD developed core learning objectives for the programme, creating a tailored ‘Retail Immersion Programme’. The programme combined self-guided e-learning, face-to-face capability building workshops and experiential practical interventions in retail stores around Europe. The aim was to immerse the CHEP commercial team across the entire value chain to help improve the quality of conversations with its customers across fifteen European countries. Fig. 1 shows the individual programme components, underpinned by access to IGD’s online resource platforms, Retail Analysis and Supply Chain Analysis.

Fig 1. Programme Components

Results: Across 2017 and 2018, IGD successfully trained 350 people across 15 European markets, helping to build a greater understanding of the end to end supply chain and appreciation of how shopper behaviour can influence business processes. This programme has led to the introduction of new CHEP solutions in emerging markets and increased the quality of conversations with existing and new clients, away from being a wooden pallet provider to a supply chain solutions provider.

The full CHEP case study is available here to Supply Chain Analysis subscribers.

Source: IGD

Speak to IGD about how your business can benefit from bringing the outside in.

From e-learning, to briefings or blended capability programmes, IGD can help support your business through increasingly challenging times. Get in touch with me if you’d like to know more.

Alex Edge

Alex Edge

Supply Chain Insight Manager

CHEP and IGD worked together on a pan-European blended learning programme during 2017. This case study describes the immersive programme co-created for their customer-facing teams.

If you have a specific business challenge or training requirement we can tap into our expertise and put together something just for you.

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