Ask any retail store or warehouse manager in charge of inventory his or her preferred shipping time, and this is the response you’re likely to hear: “I want it yesterday.”
We live in an age where prompt turnaround through digital technology is the norm. We see it in nearly every aspect of life, reducing an everyday task into the fraction of time that it previously took to complete. And that expectation of instant gratification has now become a standard of doing business. That’s especially true among the most prominent retail companies, which are further taking the adage “time is money” into the digital age, by mandating increasingly stringent on-time deliveries from their suppliers.
Executives at Walmart announced recently that, starting in April, large suppliers need to deliver full orders within a one- to two-day window at least 85 percent of the time or be slapped with a fine worth 3 percent of the tardy product. Smaller suppliers will need to be on time 50 percent of the time.
“We need the product that the customer wants when they want it,” Steve Bratspies, Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, told The Wall Street Journal.
Grocery heavyweight Kroger is also clamping down. It has started fining for late or incomplete deliveries by charging suppliers $500 per day for shipments arriving after a two-day window. In a nutshell, the greater enforcement measures come down to the need for retailers to have precise inventory data for online customers who want to pick up orders in-store. According to the Food Marketing Institute, consumers could spend up to $100 billion a year via online groceries by 2022. FMI also expects, in fewer than 10 years, 70 percent of U.S. consumers will use the internet to regularly purchase most packaged products.
These changes are predictably in response to Amazon broadening its reach and infiltrating multiple markets, including the grocery space. Amazon even plans to take efficient and on-time shipping to the next step by cutting out the middleman and making the deliveries on its own.
With the whole supply chain process accelerated, companies like Walmart want three things: stocked shelves, predictable product flow, and reduced inventory. This shift tends to require more frequent orders in smaller quantities. But the more these delivery windows tighten, and subsequent fines start chipping away at the bottom line, the more suppliers and shipping companies will need innovative technology to meet on-time requirements, simplify logistics, and arm supply chains with as much flexibility as possible.
Ever-growing complexities surrounding modern logistics prove a bigger challenge to operations, demonstrating that shipping management is dependent on convenient access and visibility into a business’ digital processes. How these companies deal with the increasing variety and volume of data is vital to improving supply chain efficiency and hitting these tighter delivery windows.
And robust, even prioritized, data movement and integration from a reliable end-to-end B2B solution provides exactly what businesses need to power fully-optimized logistical efficiency throughout the supply chain and help hit delivery windows. A modern integration platform enables:
• Service-level agreement (SLA) compliance: On-time shipping, inventory reductions, and perfect order percentage (POP) are SLA measurements that require process optimization resulting from data integration capabilities.
• Collaboration: To improve delivery and eliminate inefficiencies, a company needs to quickly and securely enable data collaboration with partners within its digitally integrated supply chain.
• Cost reduction: Increasing the efficacy of supply chain operations through real-time data insights lead to predictable and controllable operational expenses, reducing customer costs.
• Inventory management: Adapting demand predictions into executable action requires seamless and reliable integration from various sources across the multi-enterprise ecosystem.
• Comprehensive visibility: The ability to continually operate at peak performance revolves around actionable insight that originates from powerful dashboard views and real-time reports for all EDI and non-EDI data.
• High-volume support: Handle limitless transaction flows – data big and small – with carrier-grade scalability, flexibility, and reliable big data integration under the most demanding requirements.
One platform to connect, integrate, control, and track data throughout a company’s entire supply chain should have the automated tools and intuitive controls for enhanced visibility into information flows, meaning any supplier, distributor, and manufacturer can keep Walmart’s shelves stocked any time of year.
The demand for on-time product delivery will only get more stringent as technology enables greater efficiencies, and companies in business with these retail giants must modernize their IT and integration infrastructure to meet such SLAs now and in the future.