While many people think technology is behind supply chain operations, in reality much of it involves human activity and transaction processing.
The challenge for logistics companies is how to differentiate themselves. To do this, companies need to make business decisions that focus on customer experience while integrating the right smart technologies into the supply chain.
These technologies, which include transportation management systems (TMS), automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), reduce inefficiencies and bottlenecks in an already fragmented supply chain.
How Technology Integration Improves Supply Chain Efficiency
To meet the demands of modern customers, you will need to partner with vendors and integrate multiple technologies. As with any strategy, key steps in planning to integrate technology into your organization involve researching, integrating and partnering with the
best suppliers and using the right tools.
To conduct research
Assess what’s available for your business, market trends, and your competitors. Do your research from a TMS and premium partnership perspective so you can choose vendors who:
● Value collaboration
● Provide ease of use
● Offer more visibility
● Free up time for your employees and customers
Integrate and collaborate with the best providers
Identify and review vendors based on your goals, needs, and budget. Choose various companies from different perspectives (tracking, LTL, TMS, and pricing) and partner with them.
Use software to automate supply chain processes such as demand and supply planning, tendering, order fulfillment, and more.
For example, if a customer is on a TMS, all you need to do is log into the TMS, search for a load, enter a rate, and save the information. A robot can perform in four seconds what would normally take human employees about 45 or 50 seconds per load.
Use the right tools
Select the right tools, including but not limited to API connections with different pricing tools, middleware to configure and adjust the software, and robots to enter prices and quotes in portals.
Integrating these technologies helps you:
● Streamline business processes
● Reduce customer costs
● Improve employee technology resources for overall business efficiency
Instead of investing in all technologies in-house, onboard the best partners available to provide a variety of solutions to your customers.
The Impact of Supply Chain Technology on Customer Experience
Amazon has changed customer expectations for speed and communication, while letting them think they have great customer service.
By integrating technologies, Amazon delivers operational excellence while solving customer problems through re-delivery or visibility, not people.
Yet problems still arise, especially when customers run into issues and need quick resolutions. Amazon provides end customers with a phone number (which is likely automated with bots returning AI responses based on the customer’s response) and entry-level call center employees to resolve issues.
The key to an exceptional customer experience is integrating smart technologies and having a team of dedicated account managers who understand their business.
You need a healthy mix of three key elements:
● Operational Excellence
● Customer privacy
Innovation allows companies to charge a premium for what you do, while operational excellence – developing people and building an effective analytics infrastructure – helps you deliver exemplary customer service.
Customer intimacy, however, drives the overall customer experience, giving your business a competitive edge. This involves collaborating with customers while sharing information, pain points and ideas on improving supply chain integration
It’s like getting a tailored suit – you understand the process and are willing to pay a premium for a great outfit.
If your business operates at the intersection of operational excellence and customer intimacy, for example, you can prioritize customer relationships and empower your team with the latest technology to work quickly and efficiently.
Maximize your return on investment with supply chain technology
Customers expect faster and more flexible deliveries, with real-time visibility.
The key to a thriving and sustainable supply chain? Integrate and maximize multiple technologies. This promises improved efficiency, reduced costs, a better customer experience and a more measurable bottom line.
About the Author
Kyle Ingraham is President of Logistics at AFC Logistics, a major freight and logistics company headquartered in Tampa.