The manufacturing and distribution supply chain has been shaped over the years by many different factors. In the past, production lines would be fixed, as the market has expanded, customers have become savvy in regards to the market offerings they choose. Where once, a company could gain a competitive advantage from delivering a standardised product, within a set time frame, companies now need to be able to adapt to the ever evolving customer requirement. Refining operational efficiency for all customers is, most definitely, extremely desirable, however creating close customer relationships helps a company detect the long-term requirements, and expectations of prospective customers. It also enables the company to develop operational configurations that deliver tailored supply chain delivery with optimal profitability.
A supply chain centred on customer relationship management has the best potential to generate unique solutions that combine elements of timeliness, availability, and consistency to exactly match desired values at prices customers are willing to pay.
Some of the vital industry trends from the 2014 Supply Chain Survey conducted by IDC Manufacturing and Retail Insights include the following:
· Cost reduction is increasingly becoming a supply chain priority although many companies may identify themselves as product centric rather than price or service centric.
· The goal for many companies is seen as either progressing to become a best-in-class supply chain development company or truly embracing the concept of a demand-driven supply chain.
· The second-highest priority for a supply chain analyst is becoming more customer-centric, followed by improving product quality control and compliance.
· The top supply chain priorities included focusing on improving supply chain planning, supply management/B2B proficiencies and implementation across the supply chain.
As well as these trends, experts and leading industry professionals agree that both innovation and speed to market are crucial for the successful survival of the UK manufacturing industry. According to PwC’s 2013 report , “survival in today’s global market and investing in the future requires organisations to innovate and be able to commercialise successful innovations quickly.”
How e-commerce has affected the manufacturing and distribution industry
Due to these game-changing trends in the manufacturing and distribution supply chains, e-commerce has seen substantial growth, as manufacturers can sell direct to the end user or distributors can do the same and eliminate the retail element of their traditional model. E-commerce is showing consistent and high growth globally. With today’s technology and the highly educated consumer, customers have more buying options on how and where to buy things. It’s critical that manufacturers and distributors are ready to engage with customers to build deeper relationships while personalising every interaction.
In order to remain competitive and put the best product possible into this evolving market space, businesses must have in place an effective value-creating strategy to manage the product development process and synchronise independent business functions.
How e-commerce can help you create a value adding strategy
Supply chains are now global in nature, customers have more options for where to get products, and they need their suppliers to be true business partners. Manufacturers and distributors need easy-to-use, flexible solutions to more effectively manage their business.
To succeed, manufacturers have to show a higher value proposition to market. Whether it’s through faster response times, higher quality products, or exceptional customer service and relationships. To maintain a competitive advantage, manufacturers require flexibility in their operations and must continually drive innovation in their manufacturing processes.
For distributors, operational effectiveness is a must, no longer is the business just a process of moving product from one place to another. Distributors face challenges in effective inventory control, changing regulations, how they manage operations and how they do business with partners. They must identify faster, less costly transportation modes and then find a way to extend those cost savings back to the customer, whilst leveraging the best technology. Plus, warehousing and transportation capabilities have to be extremely efficient, in order for them to demonstrate great customer service as a USP.
Ebusiness suite allows you to increase your sales function productivity by offering your products and services online, promoting them to a wider audience. With ebusiness suite, your e-commerce site’s front and back offices are seamlessly merged together and managed through your ERP system. This reduces operational costs and human error of data entry with distribution and manufacturing systems.
Key functions of the ebusiness suite include; management of your marketing and promotional activity, organisation of your product marketing via the Production Information Management (PIM) feature, organisation of the product catalogue including suppliers and e-commerce design. All of this functionality is supported by a user friendly interface for website production, which is updated in real-time and compatible for mobile and tablet. This is, but a few, of the key ebusiness suite functions.
Ebusiness suite based on Microsoft Dynamics provides distributors and manufacturers with a solution to provide operational and logistical excellence to their customers. Growth is key and growth happens through having the agility and speed to quickly address new customer needs and fulfill those needs through an efficient supply chain and forecasting for the future. Your ability to respond relies on having an informed, engaged and empowered workforce that is embedded throughout your operational end-to-end processes, ebusiness suite can help you achieve this.