Okay, so I may be a little late to the game when it comes to jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon. Yes, I am aware The Force Awakens hit theaters months ago. Yes, I have already seen it. And yes, it was good – although in my opinion nowhere near as great as the original trilogy, which left my younger self convinced I could be the next Jedi Master (sadly, I am not). So what took me so long to write a blog about it? Well firstly, this is in fact NOT a movie review site. If that’s what you’re looking for, I suggest you check out this one on Rotten Tomatoes. Secondly, connecting the dots between Star Wars and the supply chain takes a heck of lot more time than the Millennium Falcon needed to complete the Kessel Run.
Sure, there were a few obvious choices – These Are Not the Supply Chains You’re Looking For, The Ewok’s Guide to Inventory Optimization or Yoda’s Advice for the Supply Chain Padawan. Ultimately, I decided to focus on something more practical. How you can use the force to improve value in your supply chain. I promise there are real world applications; things that will provide benefit to your supply chain in the here and now, not just a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
So how does one tap into this awesome power and harness it to improve supply chain performance? You use the force, and by force, I don’t really mean the essence of the universe flowing through your veins. More that you’re attuned to the constant fluctuations in market demands. It means shifting your mindset from a traditional supply-driven value chain, to a demand-driven one.
Think of it like this. When Luke first learns to use his light saber, he practices against a remote target. He sees its movement, but is so focused on where he thinks it’s heading, he fails to accurately guess its actions and fend off the attack. That’s what happens in a supply-driven environment. Supply chain managers see changes in the market place, but are so focused on where they think the demand will be, they often fail to provide the right product in the right location at the right time. They’re just too dependent on what their forecast models tell them.
In Luke’s situation, the result is a thorough whomping from a tiny droid. In the supply chain manager’s case, it’s dealing with the fallout and expense of obsolete or excess inventory in some areas, and shortages in others. Not to mention the drop in customer satisfaction levels!
Now picture Luke in his helmet with the blast shield down. Instead of trying to predict the movement of the target, he senses where it is, effectively allowing him to fend off any unexpected blows. He’s no longer focused with single-minded intensity on what he thinks will happen, instead he responds to what’s actually happening. That’s more aligned with a demand-driven supply chain.
For the supply chain manager, it’s the ability to detect real demand, and then respond to it accordingly. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy as mastering the force when you’re a Skywalker. But it is a lot simpler than trying to build a perfect plan, only to realize that’s a near impossibility. Or relying solely on a forecast that is woefully out of date and inaccurate.
Just like Luke, utilizing a demand-driven strategy allows mangers to wait until the last second to make any necessary corrections – minimizing the risk that when a customer reaches up their hand for your product, you aren’t able to immediately give it to them.
It takes a highly nimble Jedi to master using the force, and an even more agile supply chain manager to master these demand-driven tactics. Having the right tools makes all the difference. Luke has his light saber; supply chain managers have their software solutions. And those solutions have to be agile, flexible, provide end-to-end visibility, allow for rapid reassessments of changing market demands, and provide opportunities for easy collaboration when you just need advice and guidance from your infamous smuggler friend and his favorite Wookie co-pilot.
Stay tuned for the next episode of my supply chain Star Wars series: Don’t Let Your Supply Chain be Like the Death Star!
Addison Transportation Was the First Customer to Utilize Florida East Coast Railway’s New Online Price Quote and Booking System for Door-to-Door Intermodal Shipments
JACKSONVILLE, FL–(Marketwired – May 02, 2016) – Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) has delivered the first intermodal shipment purchased through its new tool EZ Buy, an online price quote and booking system for customers to ‘buy’ door-to-door intermodal transactional freight connecting the Southeast U.S. to South Florida markets.
Addison Transportation utilized EZ Buy and its price negotiation functionality to purchase and book their shipment. The shipment was delivered safely and on time from Murfreesboro, TN, to Stuart, FL, the week of April 12th. EZ Buy is easy for customers as it allows users to receive access to dynamic price quotes, while having the ability to negotiate that price, and book an order in one quick easy transaction.
“EZ Buy is very simple to use and allowed us to negotiate a fair price to have our freight quickly delivered from Tennessee to Florida,” said Step Perfilev, Director Brokerage Development Addison Transportation. “We are very pleased with FECR’s on-time, safe delivery of our shipment and will employ EZ Buy in the near future.”
EZ Buy offers the purchase of various service options and lanes between the Southeast U.S. markets of Atlanta, Charlotte and Jacksonville, and the South Florida markets of Fort Pierce, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, by simply entering a pick-up and delivery zip code or city within these serviceable areas.
All freight purchases made through EZ Buy move reliably and efficiently across FECR’s premier door-to-door intermodal network utilizing FEC Highway Services (FECHS), the drayage and trucking arm of FECR. Seamless overnight service is provided between North and South Florida, and two-day service connects South Florida markets and the Southeast U.S. markets of Atlanta and Charlotte.
“We are pleased to offer this unique system to shippers and are thrilled to have had Addison Transportation as our first official customer to purchase through the online tool,” said Jim Hertwig, President and CEO Florida East Coast Railway. “FECR will continue to implement innovative technology like EZ Buy to enrich our customers experience.”
For more information on EZ Buy, visit our website here.
About Florida East Coast Railway
The Florida East Coast Railway (“FECR”) is a 351-mile freight rail system located along the east coast of Florida. It is the exclusive rail provider for PortMiami, Port Everglades, and Port of Palm Beach. FECR connects to the national railway system in Jacksonville, Florida, to move cargo originating or terminating there. Based in Jacksonville, Florida, FECR provides end-to-end intermodal and carload solutions to customers who demand cost-effective and premium quality. For more information, visit www.fecrwy.com.
This is essential in a world full of digitally savvy customers armed with information gathered online, who expect retailers to intuitively deliver on their constantly evolving needs. They want this to happen seamlessly, whether they are online or in a physical store. They have no time to waste.
A startlingly high 64% of retailers consider themselves advanced or leading at providing an overall seamless shopping experience, according to a Forbes Insights/EY survey of 72 retail executives. But only 45% of them think highly of the experience they offer in the last 1,000 feet.
“In order to succeed, retailers must adapt and listen to their consumers, who are now demanding a more comprehensive and consistent customer experience. If the in-store experience does not meet the standard set by digital channels, this will be an issue for consumers,” said Thomas Bornemann, Principal Advisory Consumer Products and Retail at EY.
• The scale, difficulty and cost of installing in-store technologies are the reasons some retailers are behind on the maturity curve. For large retailers, the rollout needs to happen across 1,000 or 2,000 stores. Store associates, the biggest labor base, need to be trained in how to utilize the technologies. Not an easy task considering that employee adoption and engagement is the top challenge in adopting omnichannel, cited by 64% of respondents.
“Retailers are often wary of the cost and disruption involved in changing anything to do with stores,” said Forbes Insights’ Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and Head of the Forbes CMO Practice. “But they can’t afford to ignore this key link in the omnichannel experience.”