The Third Digit of Your Supply Chain’s IQ

Written By
Derek Szopa

Digital Priorities Define Today’s Business Landscape

Business leaders in every sector struggle to balance competing priorities -- it’s a universal challenge. While decision makers, regardless of their discipline, have their own philosophies on how to prioritize, there’s no question that new digital innovations have unlocked possibilities and enabled new ambitions for many companies’ strategic plans. That’s certainly the case for retailers taking a fresh look at their supply chain.

Digitalization is no longer a buzzword, it is an imperative. A recent, global Gartner study found, “CEOs mentioning ‘digital’ within their top five strategic business priorities rose to include 20% of all surveyed.” And this has extended to the expectations for a company’s leaders as well. An EY report in their seminal CEO Imperative series reveals that respondents named Digital Transformation, Innovation, and Artificial Intelligence as critical c-suite capabilities for growth in the next five to ten years. “CEOs and their C-level teams must broaden their capture a fuller, more dynamic picture of what a less obvious future may hold. C-suites must develop the governance and agility to innovate nimbly against this intentional view of the future,” explains one EY leader.

The question then becomes not if, but how digital upgrades can impact a business across a range of priorities. For retailers, the supply chain can be an important place to start.

In Search of a Smarter Supply Chain

In a comprehensive analysis last year, McKinsey & Co. identified 50 promising automation features that each address a challenge in today’s supply chains. These include robotics, smart-sensors, and autonomous vehicles – all frequent topics in conversations about the future of shipping. These solutions might work wonders in some supply chains, but won’t be a silver bullet for all. Supply chain leaders must look for a strong return on their digital investments -- lest they focus just on the ones getting all the headlines. The evergreen concerns of cost and transit time remain perpetually top of mind.

Digital innovation is at the heart of the CloudSort offering. We have reimagined shipping’s middle mile through our software, sortation, and transportation services. Through smarter sorting and routing powered by real-time data analytics, CloudSort helps retailers and 3PLs build more flexible and responsive supply chains, offering up a better overall experience while lowering both costs and transit times.

By taking a holistic view of a shipment’s journey from dock to truck to doorstep, CloudSort finds simple, scalable ways to make an impact. Our Dock Sortation and Visibility (DSV) product, for instance, lets shippers group deliveries together from the outset, reducing time- and labor-intensive hand-offs. Our partnership with the US Postal Service lets retailers plug in seamlessly to a pre-existing network with six-day-a-week delivery. We believe CloudSort’s success comes only when our customers are able to capitalize across even more of their business priorities.

Digital Drivers of Customer Experience

Stew Leonard's, a successful regional grocery retailer in the Northeast has two rules:

Rule 1: The customer is always right.

Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1

In a world where the customer is at the heart of every business, delivery networks in particular must smooth out and optimize the customer experience. Digital innovation helps realize that ambition.

As one Harvard Business Review article makes clear, in business, technology is ultimately in service of the customer. The authors note, “Managers often think that digital transformation is primarily about technology change. Of course technology change is involved—but smart companies realize that transformation is ultimately about better serving customer needs.”

Shipping forms the backbone of the e-commerce customer experience, despite remaining largely hidden from view. Layering in tools like CloudSort, which integrates seamlessly with existing systems to optimize and organize deliveries, can make all the difference. Minimal investment can deliver maximum impact, as retailers address even more of their business priorities in one fell swoop.