The relationship between supply and demand in logistics services has changed drastically from its origin to today’s digital age. What began as a supplier-focused field has now become increasingly consumer-centric. Nowadays, supply chains operate in a way where consumer demands define the process flow in the industry. However, the challenge with a consumer-centric system is that they are unpredictable in nature and uncontrollable. Corporations must be flexible to adapt to these changes and will establish a great connection with their customers if they get this right. You will need the right software, hardware, e-commerce, warehouse management, and more to be agile enough to meet customer demands. In other words, you need to ensure elastic logistics without compromising your workforce. Here’s how you can achieve this.
What Is Elastic Logistics?
Elastic logistics is a flexible model where the draw of consumer demand sets up lead times for deliveries and products for replenishment. The goal of elastic logistics is to quickly react before or right after the need arises. Companies that have an elastic logistics system can have a fast go-to-market distribution and clear tracking for all their delivery trucks and products. The goals of this system include:
- Reducing turnaround times
- Moving shipments faster
- Shrinking lead times
- Meeting the need of the end-customer by delivering their quality product faster
The term itself implies a requirement for companies to be able to make changes easily and quickly to keep up with the demands of the consumer or market. As with all big changes, there is a learning curve. Depending on how your organization is currently set up, this change can be easy, or extremely difficult. But before you panic, here are five change management fundamentals to consider so you can establish elastic logistics without losing your workforce to the advances in technology.
Position the Change as an Opportunity
In the digital age, technology has enabled the opportunity for people to progress in their careers. For your business, your workforce may change but it will not be lost if it can adapt to the changing environment. Whether you employ truck drivers or operations managers, or both and more, technology will allow your team to learn something new about the work they do. They will be able to use and analyze data so they can work more efficiently. As you incorporate technology into your workforce, encourage your employees to use these new strategies with their work. Teach them how to optimize their results by using technology as a tool and not a replacement for their job.
Implement Quickly and Communicate
If your workforce has not yet adopted technology into their work, they may be hesitant about the change. The key to making this a comfortable transition is to implement it quickly. If you implement technology too slowly it allows for wasted time, wasted money, and a waste of resources. Once you upgrade your technology in your logistics setup, start training your employees right away on how to use it in their daily tasks. When they can implement the technology quickly into their daily routine, they will understand it better and faster and have a greater respect for the plan as they grow and expand upon their skills.
Choose Your Tools Wisely
Before choosing the tech tools you want to incorporate into your system, take your time to carefully consider exactly what organizational benefits each tool will provide. You should also consider what employee pain points each tool will resolve. This will help you as you explain to your employees why you are implementing these changes. You can explain to them how these tools can help them work better and eliminate the fear that the technology is about to replace their jobs.
It is also valuable for you as a manager to understand what the most difficult parts are about your employees’ jobs. It will help you understand what additional resources can help them eliminate disruptions and challenges by replacing them with effective solutions.
Have a Highly Organized Plan
Once you have an understanding about which tech tools you need to improve your logistics, it’s time to create a highly organized plan to roll out the system. The goal of this technology is to make your job and your employees’ jobs easier and more efficient, but the implementation process itself can cause delays and frustrations. To resolve this, you should plan out principle dates, distribution levels, training opportunities, and make your expectations very clear.
To help your team organize the resources you need, you can use a project management software. This tool will also help you plan out your expected timelines. With this system you can layout exactly when these new systems will come into effect and when you require your employees to make the transition. Be sure to keep communication lines open and ensure that your employees are aware of these changes far in advance.
Follow Up and Evaluate
Keep in mind that once you implement your elastic logistics, you still have more work to do. You need to plan ahead to evaluate the success of this transition shortly after its launch date and at certain points during the following months. Consider the ways that you evaluate the success of your new plan, what your goals are to gain from it, and what you have actually accomplished.
Choose Lean Supply Solutions to Optimize Your Supply Chain
Elastic logistics is the future, so if you’re looking to turn your lean supply chain up a notch by making your operations consumer-centric, we can help.
At Lean Supply Solutions, we strive to provide a variety of logistics solutions to help our clients get competitive in their markets and meet consumer demands. We serve a variety of clients including distribution-sensitive supply chains, small- to medium-sized organizations, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. We can help you transition to a customer-centric system that makes your business work better.
If you’re ready to experience long-term savings, customer satisfactions that deliver the best return on investment, lower operating costs, improved focus, high-end technology, and more, our team can help you. Contact us today for more information and to get started.
Now, more than ever, customers have endless choices about the types of products and services they want to spend their money on. Because of this customer-centered market, retailers need to have a customer-centric logistics system to stay competitive. With the right logistics optimization, you can improve your system to meet customer needs and demands.
Developing a customer-centric supply chain is necessary, but the process is not easy. Your entire organization, including your partners and members within your supply chain, also need to get on board. You need to create new ways of thinking and new approaches to each of your operations. However, with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) you can get the whole team on board in a seamless and time-sensitive manner. Once your new logistics management system is in place, you can gain a competitive edge and improve your customer reputation.
Evolution of Customer-Centric Logistics System
An important question to ask yourself as you contemplate shifting to a customer-centric logistics system is whether you should completely change your supply chain so it becomes customer-focused, or transition it slowly over time. Starting from scratch with a new customer-centric logistics system will be more expensive and stressful but it will get you to that competitive level faster. A more sensible approach that you can manage easier would be to gradually transition into this new system. Whatever your decision, it depends on your current standing in the market, your goal for where you want to be, how long you expect it to take for you to arrive at that goal, and the resources you will need to make the transition.
Business Case for a Customer-Centric Supply Chain
Part of transitioning to a customer-centric supply chain is to conduct extensive analyses. Here are some important questions to ask to help you assess your current supply chain, and prepare for the change:
- What benefits do you expect to gain from this new model?
- What are your projections for time, resources, and funding that will be required for this project?
- How will these changes improve your customer outcomes?
- Have you analyzed the market to see how it will respond to a move to a customer-centric supply chain?
- How do these improvements translate into tangible advantages in your competitiveness, revenue increases, and profitability?
- Who are your main stakeholders that will need to be on board?
Understanding the Customers and their Needs
To have a truly customer-centric supply chain you need to understand your customers’ needs. For example, if you are a retailer, your customer is likely a consumer in a retail store or an online shopper. They may also be a wholesaler or a white label vendor that wants to brand your product and sell it through their own channels. Understanding who your customer is and what their needs are will help you with this transition. Once you define your customer clearly, you will be better able to shift your logistics to suit them.
If you are having a hard time gaining the same perspective as your customers to understand their needs, you can simply ask them. Take time to set up phone calls or email surveys to inquire about their previous pain points and issues and interview them to identify ways you could improve. Delegate for your team to do this for each of your customers so that you can create a short list of new expectations that can help you as you plan.
Common Customer Needs
- Features: The product needs to meet all the functionalities and features that the customer expects.
- Availability: Your inventory needs to be optimized so your customers can get a hold of enough quantities when they need it, without great delay.
- Variation: You should offer sufficient variability among different SKUs to meet the needs of your customers.
- Distribution: Customers’ orders need to be delivered exactly where they need it within a reasonable time.
- Quality: The product must perform as expected and should not have any flaws, defects, or other issues.
- Value: The customer must feel that the product is priced appropriately for the value they get from it.
Choose Lean Supply Solutions to Optimize Your Supply Chain
The secret to transitioning to a customer-centric supply chain is to translate these common customer needs into changes that you can make in your supply chain. After you have interviewed your customers, you will get a better grasp of what their specific needs are to help you optimize. Every organization’s results will vary, but these are some examples to get you thinking about how this process works. When you are ready to optimize your supply chain, you can partner with a 3PL provider that already has the resources, personnel, and expertise available.
At Lean Supply Solutions, we strive to provide a variety of logistics solutions to help our clients get competitive in their markets. We serve a variety of clients including distribution-sensitive supply chains, small- to medium-sized organizations, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. We can help you transition to a customer-centric system that makes your business work better.
We are located in Toronto, and our Lean Methodology helps our clients eliminate any operations, equipment, personnel, or resources that do not add value to their supply chains. We do our best to ensure that you consistently deliver the right products to the right customers at the right time.
If you’re ready to experience long-term savings, customer satisfactions that deliver the best return on investment, lower operating costs, improved focus, high-end technology, and more, contact us today. Our services also include warehousing and distribution, logistics management, pick and pack, repackaging, integrated solutions with companies like Amazon, labelling, online reporting, and transportation. You can trust us to provide consistent, predictable, and quality results.