5 Tips to Know When Selecting a Supply Chain Technology Consulting Partner

It feels like we have all lived a lifetime in the last 12 months in the retail industry as Coronavirus has changed the way we live, buy goods and groceries, entertain, and more importantly our essential business strategies. As companies try to maintain their businesses and stay afloat, many have pivoted their business models to meet these consumer shifts. Retail, eCommerce, and omnichannel brands have had to laser-focus their supply chain strategies to meet the consumers where they are and how they want to engage with the brands – mostly, through multiple channels and touchpoints. Companies that have omnichannel options – store pickup, ship from store, and return in-store in addition to eCommerce channels fared much better than those that did not.  Additionally, with store pickup already in place, they could easily adapt this model to curbside pickup because the foundation required to execute already existed.  All of this has impacted businesses’ supply chain agility and efficiency.  As a result, winning brands and companies are re-examining their supply chain strategy, infrastructure, and business processes to become nimbler in 2021.   While some companies have seen the impact first-hand through out-of-stock inventory or displaced inventory, delayed order processing, and increased costs, other companies have seized the time during the pandemic to re-evaluate and invest in their overall supply chain digital strategies and technology with the eye on investment for future growth.  

Although the pandemic has changed the dynamics of retail and services – many of which will become mainstream – there is a significant tailwind for leading brands to re-invent a more agile and robust customer experience.  SCApath is leading the way in helping customers achieve their supply-chain and commerce goals with the expert guidance of strategy development aligned to successful execution.  The outcome is to help our clients become more agile and competitive while achieving measurable value creation.  

Here are SCApath’s 2021 top 5 tips for selecting a supply chain technology consulting partner and why companies who are considering this type of investment should take note.  

TIP #1- Equal parts operations and technology expertise

Supply chain technology implementations are not typical software projects.  They are highly operating process driven which requires deep operations best practices knowledge combined with application knowledge.  Successful supply chain technology deployments are driven by partners that can marry operating performance impact with technology capabilities best fit for the customer.

TIP #2 – Comprehensive understanding of the supply chain not just point solutions

The supply chain is a dependent dynamic system.  Changing one piece of the chain impacts the whole.  A change in the WMS process can significantly impact the inventory availability in the OMS for example.  Understanding these relationships improves supply chain total performance. 

TIP #3 – Ability to answer the why question in addition to what and how

Many companies assume a new process or technology will provide benefits just because it is a capability they do not have today.  Drones, as an example, are being used to perform new distribution tasks, but they can be completely unnecessary if more conventional technology is implemented properly.  Partners that help clients understand “why” it is beneficial to them deliver more value with less risk. 

TIP #4 – Understanding of unique industry requirements

It is common for companies to believe that software will “automagically” meet unique product and flow requirements because the vendor said so or because they lack best-fit practices today.  A grocery supply chain design is quite different than an apparel retail or eCommerce high-tech design.  Deficiencies in specific product or order requirements can result in delayed or redo solution designs.

TIP #5 – Experience with leading innovation in WES and Automation

As consumer companies shift more sales to eCommerce, it is critical to understand how innovation in WES and Automation can improve distribution combined with more traditional WMS and other technology. Integrators have to understand the role and integration needs of these new technologies to deliver optimal supply chain performance.   

Contact us to learn more about SCApath’s solutions and our experienced team of consultants.