Distribution operations in the future will need to support mobile commerce, such as consumers ordering and paying for products with their smart phones. In fact, companies that want to succeed in the long term may have no choice but to go mobile, said Deborah Lentz in her speech on tomorrow's supply chains at the CSCMP Europe 2010 Conference, held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in March. "We must be fully prepared to go when and where our customers and consumers are," said Lentz, who is vice president of customer service and logistics for Kraft Foods Europe.
In addition to smart phones, consumers are increasingly using the Internet and even television to place orders, Lentz noted. To meet the demand for frequent, small orders that these technologies promote and enable, companies will have to engage in rapid replenishment to ensure availability of their products, she said.
Supply chains in the future will also have to serve consumers in a sustainable manner, Lentz contended. For example, product will have to flow smoothly through the supply chain with minimal inventory. To reach that objective in Europe, where they often have stocking locations in multiple countries, companies are likely to collaborate on warehousing and transportation. In addition, they may share third-party logistics service providers (3PLs) that will handle direct-to- store delivery for multiple companies or coordinate shared warehousing among different parties. Lentz added that companies might also collaborate on city and suburban or rural deliveries.
The rapid exchange of point-of-sale data will be necessary to signal changes in consumer demand so that manufacturers can produce the products that retailers require. In this regard, Lentz said, she expects to see more companies share and synchronize master data, a base of common information about product types and inventory.
As trading partners work more closely together to meet consumer needs, Lentz noted, Kraft plans to take advantage of its suppliers' ideas for product improvements and ways to speed replenishment. Collaboration between trading partners to integrate the supply chain will help improve real-time visibility, reduce waste and lead times, support sustainability, and enhance service levels, she said.