Many of us (probably most of us) have visited the Disney attraction It’s a Small World. It represents the people and nations of the world working together and sharing a common hopeful outlook for the future. If we could only get all of our systems to hold hands and play as nicely, our business world would be a better place.
The digital customer journey is placing businesses in a performance pressure cooker, as customers are constantly in search of better experiences, faster timeframes, and higher quality products. This in turn puts significant pressure on the supply chain; many companies are looking to cut delivery times and overhead by cobbling together a supply chain solution from disparate vendors and stopgap solutions. But this strategy often only creates more problems, including integration headaches and the need for additional, often costly training.
What gets lost in the “omni-channel” hype is that selling products is only half of the battle that companies face. And most solutions defining themselves as “omni-channel” have little, if any, focus on the procurement side of the supply chain requirement.
Companies need to refocus their efforts on finding a single solution that can streamline the entire supply chain; an end-to-end “unified commerce” ecosystem. This means solutions at every stage, on every channel, both buying and selling, guaranteeing complete transparency and oversight from the moment the product leaves the assembly line, to when it arrives at a customer’s doorstep.
Establishing a Vision
But a complex ecosystem can’t just be conjured out of nothing. Rather, a vision for complete, purpose-built solutions stems from several primary tenets, all of which are essential for companies that wish to maintain competitive service.
For us, the starting point is establishing a productive digital supplier network. Without a reliable, visible source of products the momentum of the entire business grinds to a halt. Providing a usable, mobile means of managing the procurement of products – whether delivered to your warehouse, drop shipped directly to your customer or delivered to a third party logistics company operating on your behalf – is critical to the success of your supply chain operations.
Another important element in an end-to-end unified commerce offering is consistency in user experiences and technologies. You wouldn’t use ten unfamiliar word processors just to send a single email, so why would you put up with having to navigate ten different user interfaces in order to manage a single shipment? End-to-end supply chain solutions enable companies to track orders, direct warehouse logistics, integrate with trading partners, and conduct billing from one simple and responsive platform.
The solution should also be portable; for example, your warehouse manager should be able to run floor operations from a tablet while your drivers log shipment status updates from a mounted smartphone in the cab of their trucks. In other words, unified commerce solutions should extend the reach of your supply chain abilities beyond the desktop, enabling mobility at virtually every stage of the product journey.
Now that we’ve effectively sourced the products, we can begin to leverage tools to facilitate a cross-channel view of the sales process. Allow for orders to be placed electronically (either through EDI or from marketplaces like Amazon), to be taken by your sales associates (over the phone, through field sales or in a face-to-face retail environment), or to be placed through your digital storefront (web or mobile).
The final step of the end-to-end vision is effectively fulfilling the order. Providing the tools necessary to manage products in your warehouse, and select and execute a timely, cost effective transportation plan to get the product(s) from the right location in your network to your customer in whatever fashion they choose (parcel, pickup, direct delivery, or locker dropoff).
Changing the Customer Journey
As businesses everywhere rise to the challenge of creating a seamless, digital customer journey, getting end-to-end control over their supply chains is becoming a challenge in its own right. Companies still need to establish trading networks with a variety of vendors, but their execution model must become simplified, digitized, and fully integrated if they hope to remain competitive. In other words, they must seek out logistics providers that offer a full range of modular solutions that enable them to address any supply-side need at any time, from anywhere with just a few clicks.
At HighJump, we’ve worked hard to turn this integrated technology vision into a reality. That’s been a matter of not only articulating that vision, but working with customers worldwide to ensure that our product ecosystem is completely aligned with their supply chain goals. We continue to strive towards living up to “It’s a Small World After All”.
Savvy, competitive companies will always look to the horizon for rising logistics challenges — will their customers continue to demand better experiences? Will delivery timeframes continue to shrink? It’s our goal to anticipate those challenges and develop responses ahead of time, so when they arrive at customers’ doorstep, the tools they need to address them are already at their disposal.
Ross Elliott, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, HighJump leads the overall product strategy and product development execution for HighJump. Ross joined HighJump in 2014 through the merger of HighJump and Accellos. Ross was a co-founder of Accellos. He brings extensive expertise in supply chain operations and software product strategy. Ross has launched a series of platform technologies and new products to meet the needs of customers and help drive growth. Ross has facilitated numerous acquisitions to broaden product portfolios in support of the corporate vision. Ross is the overall architect for the HighJump One technology platform which consolidates acquired technologies on a common, modern technology architecture.
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