Where’s Your Coffee Creamer? In the Supply Chain Journey!

Where’s Your Coffee Creamer? In the Supply Chain Journey!

Take a minute. Look around you and pick any item close at hand. I bet you that it has been through a journey – traversing a highly sophisticated, interconnected supply chain. From the delicious coconut creamer in your coffee to the beautiful antique coffee-table in your family room, every item in sight was produced somewhere, stored somewhere else, made available to you, and eventually consumed in your home.

Wow! There is a nearly magical quality to the journey of goods across the supply chain. And so, the companies that make, ship, sell and deliver our most sought-after items are indeed magicians!

Wait, not so fast. Under every flawless operational execution in a supply chain lies a complicated ecosystem of interwoven parties – a manufacturer, a wholesaler, a trucking company and potentially a traditional retailer, all interacting in an elegant exchange of goods, services, and information. All this to ensure that when you need a new carton of creamer to compliment your morning coffee, that it is fresh, convenient to buy, and necessarily – available. Further, this connected ecosystem of supply chain companies relies on diverse and constantly evolving business processes while in a market experiencing a rapid state of disruption.

Now add consumer expectations to the mix! Moving target, all right.

The VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) challenges fit like a glove for supply chain companies and they live it every single day. Global events, macro-economic trends or looming international incidents be it natural disasters, trade disputes or regulatory changes bring a wicked twist to the local, market-changing micro situations, within hours.

Let me give you a few examples of how VUCA could disrupt the business operations of manufacturers, wholesalers and logistics companies.


Manufacturers – already operating in a margin-compressed market – are now experiencing the Amazon effect in profound ways, adding volatility and elevated customer expectations to the equation. CPG manufacturers, for instance, need to transform their core business model – basically becoming ‘retailers’ with reach to the end consumer.

Today, instability in the traditional retail space is adding uncertainty to long-standing revenue streams for manufacturers. Now, old-school selling models alone aren’t enough for manufacturers to compete, grow, and thrive.

To best serve this new class of customers, they need to streamline business processes such as order-to-cash. Manufacturers that are unable to modernize revenue-driving business processes built on tightly integrated interactions with their trading partners as well as applications will fall behind the in the expectations game.

Slow orders create poor customer experiences. Failing to complete timely transactions increases business risk, potentially violating performance-based service-level agreements (SLAs), hurting the brand, or increasing churn. That’s why manufacturers must attempt to automate as much as possible. For order processes that means tightly integrating e-commerce stores and digital marketplaces to prime their modern revenue channels for success.

Digital efficiency is no longer a luxury – it’s the cost of doing business in 2020. Manufacturers need to look for ways to rapidly modernize their legacy systems and start to think in cloud-first terms while eliminating those pesky manual processes and business process gaps.


Whether it’s air freight, ocean carriers, third-party logistics (3PL) and trucking, or warehousing and storage, logistics service providers deal in complexity – both operationally and digitally.

With global demand on the rise, companies moving goods from one place to another are seeing exponential growth. They need to be agile in how they onboard new partners and customers. What’s more is the every-day adaptation and management of existing connections and operational workflows that ensure they can deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Logistics companies simply cannot waste valuable time and resources on manual data entry. Slow processes are a death knell in the world of single-day delivery promises. To reach this milestone, the focus is on delivering true business value through optimal results – typical enabled by world-class technology.

Logistics companies must accelerate the time-to-value for their customers made possible by tight and uninterrupted load tender-to-invoice processes. And further by directly integrating the external world of customers, carriers, and trading partners with internal transportation management systems (TMS), warehouse management systems (WMS) and ERPs, it will only strengthen those mission-critical business processes.


Wholesale distributors act like retailers or manufacturers, often coupling the primary business with its own logistics wing. So, at the heart of a wholesaler’s revenue channel are processes for order to cash, procure to pay, and load tender to invoice.

The success in this part of the supply chain isn’t just measured in dollars; it’s square feet of space, and the size of their trucking fleet, and the reach of their distribution network.

By wearing many hats, it begs the need to have end-to-end and real-time operational visibility. This is key to empower wholesale distribution companies with increased agility. Reliable digital interactions with partners leads to faster business processes, shorting the time to revenue recognition, and improving customer-centric outcomes. Having actionable visibility throughout their supply chain allows companies to enhance their distribution outcomes and elevate their commitment to their customers.

As wholesalers and distributors continue to embrace omnichannel fulfillment models, they will need to reply on an ecosystem integration partner that help them scale and grow.

The Disruption is Real

Psssttt, just so you know – no one company is immune from disruption!

Supply chain companies, whether they are manufacturers, logistics providers, or wholesalers, must always be prepared for some level of disruption. They will need to embrace modern technology to stay agile and remain ahead of their competition.

Now, about that delicious coconut creamer in your coffee. Adding that flavor just jump starts your day and is an important part of your morning routine. Imagine for a moment if it was unavailable in your local grocery store, what if it were stuck in transition from point A to point B because of a failed transaction. For all you know, it could be just a missing connection, an expired certificate, an unexpected system downtime, or a dropped order that got lost in the shuffle? Go tell your grocer to urge its manufacturer or wholesaler to get technologically savvy so as to rapidly respond to market needs and supply chain shifts.  So yes, while disruption is real, it doesn’t mean you need to – nor should you -- compromise on your favorite cup of joe.

The new expectations are our expectations. As consumers, we are the ones with the power. It’s up to the manufacturers, logistics companies, and wholesalers to anticipate where the next promise needs to be, digitally enable that capability, and in doing so, shape their own destiny.

Unparalleled Choice and Control

Cleo Integration Cloud offers supply chain companies a new approach specifically designed to give those organizations strategic options that they have never had before in order to manage their end-to-end B2B integration needs. Those include:

  • Build-it-Yourself: Design and build all their integrations themselves (self-service) on an intuitive platform -- Cleo Integration Cloud -- eliminating the need for high levels of integration skills and expensive consulting resources.
  • Outsourced: Engage Cleo’s reputable managed services team to design and build integrations without sacrificing control or visibility, avoiding “black box” approaches taken by managed service providers or integration brokerages.
  • Best of both worlds: Adopt a customized blend of both self-service and managed service to complement existing organizational skill sets and accelerate time-to-market.

Make B2B integration faster and easier than you've ever experienced before through Cleo Integration Cloud. 



about cleo
About Cleo
Struggling with late deliveries, lost orders, and angry customers? Cleo helps organizations take control over their supply chain integrations, automating B2B transactions and providing end-to-end visibility. Predictable revenue, happy partners, a calmer you - it's supply chain sanity, served.
Learn More
Watch a Demo
Have 3 minutes? Watch a quick demo video to help you understand the unprecedented value of our platform.
Watch Demo Video
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.
If you’re ready to learn what Cleo can do for you, just reach out!
Contact Us Today