The Best Gifts for Supply Chains: Resilience and Agility
Holiday celebrations are wrapping up. The holiday shopping season started months ago as retailers attempted to lengthen the traditional eight-week shopping window. Black Friday sales were launched before Halloween hoping shoppers would place online orders sooner and avoid a deluge of bottlenecks that could clog and disrupt shipping channels in the weeks leading to the holidays. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers also started holiday sales early, trying to attract in-person buyers to stores sooner to prevent typical Black Friday-sized crowds from forming around stores during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
To keep up with seasonal demand and changing buying behavior, supply chain planning processes and systems must be resilient and agile. Shifts in buyer behavior have corresponding effects on product distribution, inventory forecasting, and financial projections.
Businesses that optimized sales and fulfillment during this holiday season stand to capitalize on shifting loyalties, resulting in future and present sales growth. By using Vanguard’s Predictive Planning Platform™, demand and supply planners can account not only for seasonality but also for unique events, such as COVID-19, as well as the shift in demand that occurs once the holiday season ends.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the peak season for supply chain planning and often cause disruptions in the supply chain. As retailers strive to create a seamless omnichannel experience during a pandemic, it is near impossible to create a supply chain with flawless performances with spreadsheets alone.
If the current pandemic has taught us anything, hinging supply chain success on exact predictions of the future is often of no use. With foundational improvements to forecast accuracy, supply chain leaders are enabled to focus on building plans that are resilient to variability, plans that cope well with uncertainty, and laser-focused plans, not on the accuracy but on attaining business objectives.
Resilient plans can only be produced by properly combining advanced analytics-based forecasting with actual business objectives. A unified planning platform, like Vanguard, can easily accommodate both. With the ability to take on numerous data sources and a user-friendly interface that supports collaborative intel, a proper planning platform facilitates plans that can weather any storm.
With the holiday shopping season slowing down, an ongoing pandemic, an economic recession, and many questions surrounding the uncertainty of what will come next, resiliency has never been more vital in the supply chain.
The National Retail Federation, NRF, shows that planned spending increased for most holidays and events in 2020, even during the pandemic. Just as consumers may adjust their buying patterns to meet their current needs or situation, supply chains need to be prepared to do the same and remain agile at all times. Instead of relying on a steady planning method, supply chains should find tools to deploy an event-based planning strategy that allows them to quickly pivot production, locations, other facets to keep up with logistical challenges. This builds agility into the supply chain strategy and delivers the flexibility required to succeed in fluctuating market conditions.
Both resilience and agility are vital in dealing with unforeseen events, as evident by the ongoing pandemic. As a result, demand immediately increased when panic buying started for toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and other essential items, causing shortages and stockouts that could return if COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Additionally, shortages would further strain businesses that have already encountered significant challenges this year.
By using a supply chain planning solution, such as Vanguard, and infusing their supply chains with resilience and agility, businesses can strengthen their position moving forward, ensuring that future disruptions are minimized. This will enable them to deliver what is needed efficiently and timely, providing a greater service for all involved.