Supply Chain Management

Why innovative e2e supply chain management will sharpen your competitive edge

Fred W. Schellert

Let’s face it: no one really talks about the ongoing efforts of all the people committed to optimizing the Supply Chain unless there is a major catastrophe. No one congratulates the team when deliveries are on time. No one talks about all the savings that are achieved by optimizing the value stream. Supply Chain Management with all parties involved is viewed as merely a “supporting factor” for fulfilling sales and company targets and is – you guessed it – a COST factor.   

But if this is your viewpoint, you are overlooking a very important aspect: in today’s business environment, the effectiveness and on-the-spot ability of a company’s supply chain to deliver is not only the basis for profitability, it is key to winning over the competition. Reliability, transparency and willingness to collaborate, to name only a few factors, are important arguments for purchasing departments to decide whether to work with you or not. These decisions are no longer made only by looking at the product or service arguments offered in brochures and other means of advertising.

Major companies require suppliers to stick to stringent routines and procedures, otherwise they will not even be considered as a potential business partner. If you do not play by the rules you are out, it is as simple as that. Transparency regarding processes, quality, materials, cost and controls is becoming more and more standard in numerous industries. What started out in the automobile industry is now also common practice in food, retail, medical and telecom industries, and others will surely soon follow suit. End-to-end optimization is the way to go, and will leave businesses organized an old-fashioned manner with bunker mentality thinking struggling for survival in the long run.

But here is the catch: the main driver behind the optimization of supply chains has long been a strong pull from the customer side. Playbooks are written and rules are set by strong purchasing departments. The implementation of requirements is still vastly regarded as a cost factor that is required in order to get the business. Why not actively use your innovative supply chain concepts to gain a competitive edge? Why not present your end-to-end approach during a sales pitch?

I have been on the sales side of the table for many years now, but the superiority of a supply chain has not been used as an argument to get the customer on board. Better product performance, long life time, low maintenance cost or even better price have been main issues to win over the competition. Availability was always a factor of course, but that is not the only thing an effective supply chain can do. Especially in light of the digitalization of processes, the implementation of smart factories and big data handling, you need to first find your individual optimization concept, and then sell it for what it is, your competitive edge.

A successful sales pitch needs to actively promote your company’s ability to offer a well-organized and effective supply chain. Detail your innovative approach, show success stories and let your customer know you are the partner they are looking for. Don’t let this field be harvested by your competition first. Get a professional partner who can support you all the way from concept to implementation. Talk to us, that’s what we’re expert at.