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The technologies changing supply chain management

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Investment in innovation is propelling supply chains forward at an incredible ace. As new technologies continue to evolve the landscape in which business are operating within, business solutions director, Will Robinson, take a look at the innovations shaping this…

How is the nature of collaboration changing, and what technologies are driving this? 

“Collaboration between supply chain links is becoming more connected. Typically, supply chain technology relied on handing data between different parts of the supply chain – for example overnight file transfers. This process often required sharing personal data which was then stored in separate systems. With the arrival of GDPR and the acceptance that a constantly online and connected supply chain is essential, many integrations are allowing systems to call data, including personally identifiable data, on demand which removes the need to store it at all in supply chain systems. For example, we can retrieve the customer name, address and phone numbers to create carrier labels in the warehouse on demand without ever needing to store this data in the warehouse management system itself. This is one more possible data leakage point removed.”

What technologies are being deployed in specific supply chain functions, such as warehouses or on border crossings?

“Cross border technologies with regards to fulfilment to customers has been relatively frictionless for some time, which makes sense given it’s every retailers aim to get products in the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible; however, cross border trading on importing products still seems to be quite archaic.

“This is usually a symptom of deeply entrenched supply chain thinking where the act of making one small change to the inbound process has huge implications on buyers and merchandisers – it suffers from an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality. 

“This differs vastly across industries. Importing car components in a ‘just in time’ manufacturing supply chain typically has a good level of import sophistication, whereas fast fashion typically relies on quite manual import processes which can be slow and cumbersome. Ultimately, this tends to be consumer driven; if a specific style isn’t available for sale in the fashion trade, the consumer is usually unaware of that fact – they simply don’t see the styles available for sale. If a specific car model experiences shortages or long lead times, it’s visible to the consumer. Retailers shouldn’t ignore the supply chain savings and efficiencies on offer through digitising more processes. “

© Natwest ContentLive 2019

This interview originally took place as part of a feature for Natwest ContentLive. Click here to read the full article.

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