February 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Mary Kleespies, director of supply chain consulting, DiCentral Corporation
Utilizing on-demand sourcing requires finding a solution that provides real-time updates on product locations and quantities available throughout the supplier’s global supply chain.
The global economy is becoming increasingly complicated. Unfortunately, the economic recovery currently under way is proving to be shaky at best, making matters worse when considering the importance of accuracy in demand forecasting. On-demand sourcing, though, is quickly becoming a critical technology and sourcing-related enabler that reduces costs and generates additional savings. The drawback is that on-demand sourcing is itself complicated, particularly for suppliers who lack the experience and knowledge necessary to effectively incorporate it into their current business practices.
There is continuous pressure for suppliers to find ways to reduce costs and generate additional savings. Typically, suppliers struggle to meet savings goals with an overworked staff using time-consuming manual processes or outdated systems. Suppliers need a solution that enables collaboration with key stakeholders and allows them to do this rapidly, with the necessary integration and key services required for success.
There are EDI (electronic data interchange) service providers, however, that offer B2B solutions that allow suppliers to focus on critical business imperatives — such as realizing savings through on-demand sourcing — without managing the related infrastructure.
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An effective tool for managing on-demand sourcing is a hosted transaction visibility solution, helping suppliers manage critical exceptions and share information more effectively by monitoring retail B2B transactions. It is critical to be able to pinpoint where goods are located, have concrete knowledge on the shipment's location, and anticipate what items will be delivered to that location and when it will arrive — a visibility solution should deliver this and more.
It is important that the solution feature a global integrated system that provides timely, online, and scheduled status reports from factories, carriers, and forwarders to help improve operational speed and efficiency. Receiving continuous, real-time feedback from trading partners enables suppliers to assess supply chain events before goods leave the factory.
In addition, an effective visibility solution should provide event management, giving definition and order to the significant occurrences within the user's global supply chain. Along with event management, the solution should provide exception management with conditional alerts on customer-defined metrics such as ship dates, vessels, etc., which are available via static Web, email, and mobile platforms. Finally, it is critical that the solution provides supplier and carrier metrics that allow the user to measure trading partner fill rates and performance based on key performance indicators, as well as track those metrics based on events throughout the user's supply chain.
With the importance of adopting on-demand sourcing and the future growth and success of suppliers, it is vital to have a visibility tool that can be depended on for complete visibility and substantial cost savings.