Strengthening Collaboration For Smarter Supply Chains

Nov 17, 2022 3:00 PM4:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

The pandemic and various geopolitical events have initiated shifts in consumer purchasing habits and disruptions in the supply chain, including material shortages, port overflows, and backlogs. So, how can you manage your supply chain operations to streamline the customer experience?

When handling multiple supply chain disruptions simultaneously, it’s essential to develop a resiliency strategy to recover your operations. This involves extensive planning and transparent communication with suppliers to identify and address gaps in the supply chain. Once you’ve built this strategy, you can invest in digital technologies to provide a comprehensive view of your supply chain operations and give you a competitive advantage in the market.

In today’s virtual event, Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson talks with Gautham Acharya of IBM and Stephan Bieber of Adobe about optimizing supply chain operations. Together, they share the digital trends impacting supply chain operations, advice for managing supply chain operations during disruptions, and the effects of supply chain disruptions on the digital customer experience. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Digital trends impacting supply chain operations
  • Advice for managing supply chain operations during disruption challenges
  • How supply chain disruptions affect the digital customer experience and how to enhance it
  • Addressing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) compliance in the supply chain
  • The importance of maintaining transparency in supply chain operations
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Event Partners

IBM

IBM is a technology company engaged in providing hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. It offers integrated solutions and products that use data and information technology (IT) in industries and business processes.

Adobe

Adobe Experience Cloud is the most comprehensive suite of customer experience management tools on the market. With solutions for data, content delivery, commerce, personalization, and more, this marketing stack is created with the world’s first platform designed specifically to create engaging customer experiences. Each product has built-in artificial intelligence and works seamlessly with other Adobe products. And they integrate with your existing technology and future innovations, so you can consistently deliver the right experience every time.

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Guest Speakers

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Guatham Acharya LinkedIn

Portfolio Strategy Leader, Supply Chain and Sustainability at IBM

Gautham Acharya is the Strategy and Portfolio Planning Leader at IBM, a technology consultancy that discovers, designs, and develops advanced information technology and translates it into value for businesses. As a global technology leader, he has over 18 years of experience overseeing enterprise commerce and supply chain solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Gautham manages a worldwide portfolio of more than $38 million in P&L through application consulting and implementation services. In his previous roles at IBM, Sterling Commerce, and i2 Technology, he led the delivery and architecture for over 15 large-scale implementations of order management systems, inventory management, and store engagement solutions. 

Stephan Bieber LinkedIn

Group Product Manager at Adobe

Stephan Bieber is the Group Product Manager at Adobe, the global leader in digital media and marketing solutions. In his role, he is responsible for implementing ecosystem solutions and managing the Adobe Commerce Marketplace. Before Adobe, Stephan was a Product Manager at Magento, a Credit and Payment Manager at Radial Inc., and the Credit Risk Manager at eBay. 

Event Moderator

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Guatham Acharya LinkedIn

Portfolio Strategy Leader, Supply Chain and Sustainability at IBM

Gautham Acharya is the Strategy and Portfolio Planning Leader at IBM, a technology consultancy that discovers, designs, and develops advanced information technology and translates it into value for businesses. As a global technology leader, he has over 18 years of experience overseeing enterprise commerce and supply chain solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Gautham manages a worldwide portfolio of more than $38 million in P&L through application consulting and implementation services. In his previous roles at IBM, Sterling Commerce, and i2 Technology, he led the delivery and architecture for over 15 large-scale implementations of order management systems, inventory management, and store engagement solutions. 

Stephan Bieber LinkedIn

Group Product Manager at Adobe

Stephan Bieber is the Group Product Manager at Adobe, the global leader in digital media and marketing solutions. In his role, he is responsible for implementing ecosystem solutions and managing the Adobe Commerce Marketplace. Before Adobe, Stephan was a Product Manager at Magento, a Credit and Payment Manager at Radial Inc., and the Credit Risk Manager at eBay. 

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Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect


BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Senior Digital Strategist Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.


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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  0:18

Welcome, everyone. Happy Thursday. It is Thursday. I am Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson digital strategist with BWG Connect, and we are a network and knowledge sharing group, we stay on top to latest trends, challenges, whatever it is that's going on in the digital landscape. We want to know about it. We are on track to do at least 500 This year of webinars. So definitely keep abreast on what's going on, we send out schedules monthly, feel free to sign up for anything that looks interesting. And also note that we do in person dinners as well. So we'll do over 100 dinners this year. We tend to do them in tier one cities. So if you are in a tier one city, feel free to shoot us an email, and we'd be happy to send you an invite these dinners are typically 15 to 20 people having a specific discussion around a digital topic, and it's always a super fun time. We spend most of their time here at BWG. Having conversations to learn more about the trends and challenges in the industry. We'd love to have a conversation with you. So feel free to drop me a line Tiffany@bwgconnect.com. And we can get some time on the calendar. It's from these conversations, we not only generate the topic ideas that we know people want to learn about. But it's also where we gain our resident experts such as Adobe and IBM who is here today. So anybody that that we have, teaching the collective team, the network has come highly recommended for multiple brands within the BWG network. So if you're ever in need of any recommendations within the digital space, do not hesitate to reach out, we have a shortlist of the best of the best. And I'd be happy to provide that information to also in case you're hiring do note that we have a talent agency BWG Talents that we can put you in contact with as well. So a few housekeeping items, we get started about five after the hour. So we will wrap up at least five to 10 minutes before the end of the hour. It's gonna be time to get to your next destination. And most importantly, we want this to be fun, conversational educational, so feel free to drop any comments questions that you have in the chat bar in the q&a bar. If you want to send an email, feel free to email me Tiffany@bwgconnect.com. And we will be sure to get to those. So with that, let's rock and roll and start achieving a smarter supply chain. Supply chain was always complicated, but this is like next level complicated. So it's like why is collaborating key to a Unified Commerce experience? Well, this is going to be a doozy. The team at Adobe and IBM have been awesome friends on the network. So I'm going to kick it off to you Gautham. And, Stephan, if you can give an overview on yourself. That'd be great. And then we can dive right in.

 

Gautham Acharya  3:00

Thank you. Hi, hi, everyone. I'm Gautham Acharya, and I am part of IBM strategy and portfolio and then I lead the supply chain solutions within IBM. And today we are kind of caught really closely coordinating with Adobe Premiere this experience

 

Stephan Bieber  3:20

I'm Stephan Bieber. I'm a product manager on the Commerce team at Adobe. And my domain is focused on the broader ecosystem we have of partners, but also our Adobe commerce marketplace, which is used by our merchants to use additional features and add ons on top of the commerce platform.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  3:45

Fantastic thank you so much. It's a friendly reminder, questions, comments, put in the chat. This is a panelist session. So it isn't a two way dialogue. If you do have any comments or questions, you'll have to use the chat or the q&a. But like I said, we will definitely get to them as we get through all of this content. So starting with, I guess the challenges of supply chain, there's been quite an abundance of them in the last couple years. So as we continue to emerge from the pandemic for one, what are the biggest challenges you're seeing businesses are currently facing in terms of managing their supply chain operations?

 

Gautham Acharya  4:25

Yeah, I can go first. I mean, one of the things we have seen as supply chain basically is everywhere today, right? It's in the news we hear about are good or bad. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's bad. Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the shutdowns, you will have food shortages, raw material shortages, Port congestions that were like all over the news earlier, you have severe load labor shortages, and there was this case of Suez Canal blockage that caused major delays and backlogs And then earlier this year, we saw the Ukraine war, cause significant supplier backlog in the automotive industry and several other geopolitical events, right that have caused the repeated problems with the supply chain. And that's that to a point where supply chain is now identified as a major national security risk and concern. And there were several actions taken by the government to actually boost the reliability and resilience of critical supply chains. The chips act that we actually saw, getting in, was trying to bring manufacturing NGO in country for critical chips that were plaguing critical manufacturing, right of automotive companies. And we've seen that in other areas as well. And there is no really one day you don't really hear about some level of supply chain disruption, one place or the other for numerous related events. So this is like just the news, right? And it's coming really hot across the board. The other thing that other other trends we are actually seeing is coming from the pandemic, especially when you actually look at Commerce, store shopping is back people have started going back to the store, the everybody was locked up during the pandemic. Now shopping malls were closed stores were closed. And now people are going back to the stores they want online, they buy online, but they also want to actually experience what's happening at the stores. And going back in time, I mean, stores and malls are also becoming points of like a social interaction as well, right, that's continuing to happen as we actually see this. And related to this store shopping customers really want accurate visibility and tracking of their orders, right? Along with the promises. In the stores, you can see the products what you want, I mean, you see there, you actually see and make a purchase and walk out of the product. But when it comes to online experiences, you really want the same thing. So customers got accustomed to ordering online and getting things delivered to their store now want the same experience, just buy online, go to the store and expect the product to actually show up at the store. Right. So that's another thing that we've actually seen kind of becoming irrelevant after the pandemic. And the other thing related to this store shopping coming back is return flexibility. I mean, also the pandemic people will kind of return through their carriers or FedEx network or UPS or whoever it might be. Now, given that the stores are open back, customers want that flexibility to return at the store. And in in a lot of sense, it's actually better for retailers as well because they can convert those customers who already in the store walked in with a turn and then make them buy other things. That's that's a very interesting thing that we're seeing kind of come back to life. And when you kind of look at the b2b side of things, what has interestingly happened is with so much digitization happening, a b2c is not immune to this. b2b is not immune to the business to business purchases, the buyers have actually started seeking the similar kind of flexibility that they as consumers would actually see right when they made their purchases for themselves. So they're pressing their companies, their suppliers, their marketplaces where they used to make the purchase, to really provide the same level of flexibility and capability in b2b marketplace or b2b journeys. And that's, that's a trend that we're seeing, picking up to a point where a lot of b2b will actually start originating through a digital commerce interface, right. Unlike what happens today through like EDI, or some other mechanism of getting b2b orders, most of those will start from a digital journey online. And lastly, what we are seeing is some digital trends related to direct to consumer. So a lot of brands that could not reach the customer wanted to establish close relationship with the consumer directly. And you see brands like Nike, Adidas, and even like food manufacturers, for example, like Pepsi as a brand, Heinz snacks.com, all of these guys opening up their direct to consumer storefronts, where they want to interact directly with the customer, almost as an additional channel to provide the products to gain consumers. And again, I mean, there were disruptors in the automotive industry. Tesla, for example, is well known On for their direct to consumer, they operate, nor operate to the dealers network, they directly work with their cars, consumers, and there's a lot of benefit to it. It's a different different business model. And we are seeing that kind of pickup where existing brands who were not going direct to consumers have started actually venturing into direct to consumer models. And lastly, through the pandemic, what we've also seen as sustainability becoming very important, right, so the there were trends that showed that carbon emissions during the pandemic reduced substantially. And that's kind of known because not not a lot of people were driving to work. And you saw images of like, things in Venice, like the Venice Canals being very clear, were stealing the bottom because not a lot of traffic going on in those canals. And social health and well being and environmental well being became really important for people in the Gen Z today, right. And that has kind of percolated up stream in, in cases where corporate social responsibility ESG parameters, and then how to drive sustainability and commerce, that's becoming center stage. So consumers have started asking more about sustainable practices, especially when it comes to food that they buy. Seafood is a classic example coffee, where does the coffee come from? Does it involve child labor? Right? All those questions are coming in from a consumer standpoint, and you're seeing larger companies kind of put pressure on their suppliers, to really understand the sustainability practices, right ethical practices that the suppliers are using, especially when it comes to offshore manufacturing or offshore sweatshops that you have in the apparel industry. And we also saw during the pandemic, severe labor shortages, I mean, this has been across the globe. And this is kind of hampered a lot of recovery efforts. And we're still reeling through severe labor shortages in certain areas, which will continue to impact the supply chain. And then I think it's important that businesses realize, and put in contingency plans on how they're going to actually reduce their reliance on a lot of manual labor and start thinking about automation and digitalization of their supply chains and their commerce processes, and basically, reduce the risk of labor shortage. And the recent trend that we actually saw, because of all the, the fiscal policy and monetary policy from the central banks across the world, is inflation is kind of driving and everybody is feeling the pinch. And this is kind of resulting in driving up prices of pretty much everything. And it's reshaping the behaviors of consumers and businesses in themselves. So that that is something that we saw as overall trends across coming out of the pandemic, in the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic in the the inflation one is like very accurate. And being seen today, across the board. Stephan, what do you I think.

 

Stephan Bieber  13:35

Yeah, Gautham. Thanks. That's already a lot to unpack. But maybe just yeah, just to add some, some of our learnings that we see from from our ecosystem at Adobe with our customer, but also the broader ecosystem, I think, one one thing we learned being a big challenge is overall more competition. So what we saw, especially during during the pandemic is, from an eCommerce perspective, many of those retail brick and mortar focused companies, they shifted to eCommerce, really to keep the business running. And we at Adobe, since you know, we want a commerce platform, we saw literally the rise of you know, 1000s of businesses coming coming online, and many of them state right, so so that cost and increased competition for those established businesses that were already in this digital playground, selling online. So that's that's one thing. I think. We also went through a period of, you know, having to handle exponential growth. And a key challenge I think you mentioned it briefly is the need to have, obviously inventory availability. But I think also important is to be able to actually reflect right and actually accurately reflect what you have available to sell to promise not just from your warehouse but if you have point of sale and retail, you know, including all of those sources of inventory. And due to the shortage of stock and inventory and supply chain disruptions make the best use of that inventory you have across all of those sources. So that's, that's something we see that our merchants you know, start to think about more and struggled with right implementing. Also, shopper behavior and expectations changed, I think overall, you know, the customer expectations are rising and getting getting higher. For me, especially regarding the delivery aspect of the experience and post purchase services. So we, for example, saw a shift from you know, in store to things like home delivery, or shipping, you know, shipping in your garage, right, which is which, which is what I do all the time to get get the boxes in my garage, but also things like, you know, curbside pickup and variations thereof. And also related to shopper behavior, I think we need to talk about overall lower customer loyalty. And what I mean by this is, I think, due to this disruption of the supply change, and issues with products being available, customers, I think started to be less picky, and, you know, ultimately shop where they are desired products that items are available. And then you mentioned that I think, I also wanted to mention, overall, it's an ongoing challenge to attract talent, right, it's become difficult to find a higher talent. And what we see is happening in the industry in the market is usually those candidates that are higher, they can select from three to five different offers. That's it from from an Adobe perspective, as it relates to those to those key challenges we've seen.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  16:47

Awesome, great insights, a friendly reminder, questions, comments, put in the chat or q&a, and we will get to them. That is Wait a list lists, plural. I mean, well, like I said, supply chain was always very complicated and a challenge. And now it's next level. So it's, I guess, starting from both your lenses, your what advice do you have for these type of challenges? Because they're very complex?

 

Gautham Acharya  17:17

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I can take us first. Tiffany. So one thing is what we've seen is disruption is a given right, I mean, in supply chain disruption is given. Clearly, I mean, what we are seeing is this is no two days, you can basically say, Oh, this yesterday is the same as today. No, right? It doesn't happen. So something basically happens, where you are impacted by an event that you can control or you may not be able to control, there's so many things in the supply chain, and your partners, which cuts across the Geo, that you may not be able to control. The key thing then is what do you do about it? Right? So what we're basically seeing is invest in resilience, right? I mean, again, it's a loaded term here, right? Supply chain resilience, it's used all over the place. What does that really mean? I mean, resilience, in general means how fast you can bounce back from a condition of stress. So if your supply chain is under stress, because of various reasons, what are the actions you can actually put in place to come back from that situation? For example, if one of your supplier basically has the problem, and you have basically identify that as a critical supplier? Resilience really means that Do you have plans to actually look at alternate suppliers, right? Or do you throw up your hands? The clear answer is no, you now, given that the trends, more and more disruption are likely to happen, you really need to plan for achieving certain elements of resilience and build that as part of your supply chain strategy. And again, you can actually you really need to analyze where you are in today, in your journey within their supply chain. Everybody's supply chain is different. Some are complex, some, some involve a lot, many layers, especially in Apple, or you basically look at high tech manufacturing, you have like five, six layers of supply chain, right? So you might have like one component or raw material coming in from some place where you're really not aware of what's happening. And that part, that small part, or small raw material might impact your large production, right? So you don't don't want to get caught up in the middle, right? So you really want to plan and map out your supply chain, and really figure out what needs to be done to address those gaps. So is there something I can add, right, that you can do for example, can you actually change a sourcing strategy to actually do Okay, do you locate as in in country or near shoring right when compared to outsourcing and there's there's cost benefit analysis to all of this. But if you're not going to be able to actually produce your goods, or you're not going to be able to sell your goods, is it whatever to actually invest in little bit of money, right, and capital expenditure to actually have this resilience to in terms of impact, right? Because this also provides a competitive advantage. So that's what we would advise to actually do start looking at supply chain resiliency strategy, and then build capabilities across the board, you have to look at your sourcing, you have to look at how you actually staff inventory. Do you have alternate products? When you're actually looking at parts? For example, when you're looking at building cars, for example, right? So if you do not have a particular chip, maybe you don't you have a functionally equivalent, it might not be the same supplier, you have functionally equivalent chip that will work right. And similarly for repair parts that might require for functioning within within your factories or within within customer, electronics or other places. Do you have can you have an alternate part, which is functionally equivalent, that can suffice? Right? So those are the things you can start establishing as a part of your process. And both that into your plans, right. And additionally, you also need to look at, you don't have to go in this journey alone. Supply chain resilience is a part where you really need to establish communication with the rest of the suppliers. So if you are a supplier providing you really didn't need to look at how do we tap into our collective intelligence of other suppliers, right? What are they doing, so be a part of the network to gain the collective insights from other suppliers, right? Gain the learnings from them and improve on knowledge sharing and disrupt incorporating feedback on what can be brought into your industry and your enterprise specifically, the next thing is, after you have the strategy, you really need to figure out how to put it into operation, right. And several and think of technology as an enabler for your operation. So it is crucial that people start investing in digital technologies that will help you get a better view of your supply chain, I mean, you cannot not have a good view of what's happening in your supply chain, and your participants who are the people who are moving your products. If you don't know who is actually carrying your truck from the port on to your distribution center, then you're lost, right? If you rely on some third party and you have no idea about what the truck is doing and where that truck is, then you are at a disadvantage compared to a competitor who might have it or you might actually be at the risk of losing customers. So it's really important to get a good view of a supply chain and invest in technologies that allow you to actually have that view. Falling on this, once you get the view, you really need to understand what to go about it right just view is not sufficient, you really need to start investing in technologies. And artificial intelligence in particular is very important given the the number of decision parameters that are involved in a typical supply chain to forecast better, right and to predict shortages in certain areas and overcapacity in certain areas. Because what we are seeing now is also a glut of inventory. In some cases, you will probably heard about Target and Walmart coming out very visibly that because of poor shortages or overestimation of our demand is right. In certain categories. They just basically went over capacity, they bought a lot of stuff, which they didn't know they wouldn't be able to sell, right. So you really need to hone that and have better production models to really identify not just shortages, but also over capacity. Because both the sides are bad, right? shortages are bad over capacity and loaded with inventories also bad. And we kind of need to reduce the complexity within your application. So you might have an IT system today and you have multiple applications you acquired over time, like smaller companies that bring their own systems. So it careful analysis needs to be done to see if your IP systems are fragile. Just like you do an analysis for your supply chain. It's really important to understand if your IP systems are resilient, are they actually complex? Can they be simplified? Right? Can you actually consolidate multiple IT systems that are providing your visibility as an act sample I mean, if you have like, five different systems trying to actually show you, your shipment visibility on your inbound purchase orders, and you really have to look into five different systems to go find it, then that's not going to cut it right. So you really are spending too much time trying to figure out what's happening there. And then there's inconsistencies in what we actually see. So try to reduce and invest in technology that consolidates the simplifies your it just like you actually simplify your supply chain. And then once you have these systems in place, you want to automate your supply chain to the possible extent possible, right, like make appropriate decision making or execution, where you can actually make decisions without really causing problems for your business, right and automate the supply chain, right as in like purchasing replenishment, your order execution you shouldn't be able to have every order that comes in should should not need a manual intervention. In fact, what we've seen is you should have or aim for like 90 to 95%, right, in p2p or even 99%, or a bow in a b2c scenario where the orders should flow through the system without any manual intervention. So that's, and then lastly, what do you do about resilience? Right? I mean, you really need to actually figure out and test for resiliency, you really need to do drills. I mean, schools are very famous, I mean, they have lockdown drills these days, right? So you basically test out and we've seen in IT system, they actually do disaster recovery and figure out, okay, if this IT center blows up, or I have network problems, what how to actually have, right, we want to actually do business continuity planning. So it's really important to actually start figuring and investing in doing resiliency drills, which is essentially trying to create situations and simulations of scenarios that could happen. Like, can you create a simulation where a port where you have your inbound, which is orders coming in, goes down? Or gets delayed by like five days? What is the impact on downstream promising, right, so those are the kinds of things it is really important to actually look at. And on the b2c side, as we kind of started, customers coming back to the store, you want to give them more reasons to actually come to the store, make it worthwhile for their experience, right? What do they actually they're coming in, the customer is coming in investing their time and money driving to your store. So make it worthwhile, right, so enhance the customers experience, and maximize the value that you can bring to the customer while the customer is at the store. You can create unique experiences that cut across channels, where they actually start from like social interaction, bringing them into your eCommerce journey, and then bringing them to your store. And vice versa, right. So you can start the journey anywhere you can start it at the store, but then go online, and then leave review feedback about how the journey is. So those are the kinds of things you start needing to enable right to cut the barriers of like siloed customer journeys. And we kind of touched upon this a little bit, where the promises made in any channel need to be kept, right. So you got to be very careful about keeping those promises. So enabling and investing in honoring those promises, be it availability of the product or be delivery, they promise that you the customer will have it delivered by so and so date is extremely important. And some of this we realize you cannot control like I mean most of the time in, in a couple of years back if you kind of look at it retailers who basically give out a ship date and say you would get your product in like five to seven days, right? And then hands off or talk to FedEx or UPS or whoever your carrier is. But that's no longer the case. I mean, customers expect the end experience to actually be provided by the retailer or the brand directly, right. So nobody is basically going to go and try to actually figure out what happened to the packet. So the entire experience, including any third party that you used, during any point in the experience will be considered as your brand experience. So it's really important to actually look into that. Some point.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  29:40

Yeah, also you had brought up sustainability. Exactly, especially for Gen Z. And that talked about that promise. Like if you're gonna promise about sustainability, then you better follow through. Because if you don't and something's broken in that, you know, supply chain, people are savvy, you know, I could really come back to bite a brand.

 

Gautham Acharya  29:59

Absolutely and sustainably I mean definitely is really important, right as it has come through now. And we're seeing this. And as we kind of discussing now a cop 27 is happening today where they're trying to actually figure out what policies to bring in to actually control the climate change. How do we actually avoid a climate disaster? Right? And this is resonating more and more with the future generation. I mean, the current generation that said, a kid surveys, my kids, I mean, my kids in middle school are asking very clearly, where the products come from, where do we buy milk? Right? So what do we do? Actually? I mean, is it actually coming in from the right sources? So you have this knowledge about sustainability kind of seeping down into the Gen Z's and in the later generations, and it's becoming very important that commerce be actually sustainable in the future, right? So providing that level of insights into your products, where it came from, who's behind this? Where did it get birthed, right, was it built by paying fair wages to the workers in whatever country it was built, becomes extremely important. And we are seeing like brands moving towards in that direction, and investing in understanding and unraveling their supply chain and providing transparency to their consumers. And tech pays back a lot. So consumers are willing to actually pay at an additional amount for sustainable products.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson 31:37

Awesome insights, Stephan.

 

Stephan Bieber  31:40

Just to maybe more from a commerce perspective and customer experience, perspective, additional advice from from my site, I think I briefly mentioned it, kind of to handle that increased demand. Well, you know, many businesses have to deal with with less certainty around available inventory. I think what we see is a lot of investment into technology that allows businesses to more accurately reflect what's what's actually Available to Promise right to the consumer or to other businesses in the b2b scenario, making the best use of all the sources of inventory that you have, if you haven't done so right. So include all those points of sale locations you might have, where inventory is sold out of, and reflect that, as well, in case you have an online business and make that visible to the to the shopper and and turn those stores into a mini I call them mini distribution centers. And then think about strategies for shipping from the store, for example. We also see more and more merchants adopting strategies to leverage inventory from the store. So what I just mentioned, kind of the the idea of selling to the walk in customer, but also use that inventory, sell it online, and then ship it with your with your favorite carrier directly to the to the end consumer. And, yeah, we also, if you think about, you know, those changing shopper behaviors and rising expectations, I think another advice is to invest into understanding customer needs, right. And then, for example, have the order fulfilled really in the way that your customer prefers it and really invest into those fulfillment methods that that suit the needs of your customers. So whether that's, you know, the home delivery, whether that's, I think we talked about this a little bit, buy online, pick up in store, we see, you know, more customers going back into the stores physically, or whether there's strategies around, you know, curbside fulfillment, which is popular in certain segments as well. So that's, that's kind of my advice. I have more with a focus on the commerce and customer perspective.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  34:04

Yeah, and how about that digital customer experience? So we talked about, like, the macro level, those challenges micro, there's a lot going on, but then looking at that customer experience and how it's been impacted, and what have you seen?

 

Stephan Bieber  34:15

That's a good question, Tiffany. I mean, I think we talked about this briefly in the beginning is we see customers starting to shop elsewhere, right? And the challenge of businesses to deal with lower customer loyalty. Due to the fact there's more participants in the market, right and then shortage of inventory. So customers are less loyal and then go where where there's availability. So we have we have increased a decline and loyalty and when you know, prior customers really return to their favorite merchant or brand, where they continue to have good experiences. We see customers being less loyal and they they go basically they follow the product and the availability And then if it's if it's an item that's really needed. I also think there's overall poor customer experiences that come out of these challenges. I think many, many businesses struggle with accurately reflecting, you know, your your inventory that you have and promise it accurately to, to your to your customers. And also in probably Gautham will go into this a little bit kind of alter the ability to predict, you know, future inventory and be smarter around having visibility into what's, what's available going forward. And I think this can this can cause really bad experiences for customers, right? So can lead to long wait times to receive an order. Or even the worst case if if there's out of stock situations, because you're not able to, to manage inventory correctly and expose it to customers. The worst case is orders are being canceled, right. So it has it has an impact on the customer experience. And I think yeah, regarding changing shopper behavior, and higher and higher expectations, I think this is especially important when it comes to delivery and post purchase. And we see the shift right from in store to other fulfillment options, which is, which is a trend. But also, I think, today, the one or two day shipping, or even same day shipping is kind of set to be the new standard, right how customers want to receive their orders. And it's kind of, you know, the standard that is set by by players like Amazon. And I think that leads to the effect that many customers expect that same experiences from all other merchants. And that creates, obviously a tremendous struggle to deliver this, this type of funnel Amazon like experience to be able to do a same day or next day delivery on time. Because I think Gautham, you mentioned it, it's not any more about being able to communicate to your customers kind of standard shipping times or estimate. customers really want to know, when when they shop even before they place the purchase. They want to know is this item going to be available? And when is that right? And you need to be able to build confidence around that and that actually deliver on that commitment. So I think that's, that's from my side, kind of how I see these these challenges impacting the customer experience.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  37:33

All right, as I think a great takeaway, too, is like you're a brand brand until that box gets into the house, it doesn't matter that it was FedEx USPS ups, they view on that process. And you can fragment that because like you said, that consumer has been conditioned with Amazon being a logistic company and a retailer that it is all in one to them that whole experience. I think that's a really great takeaway. And reminder has questions, comments, definitely put them in the chat, I want to talk a little bit about the best in class organizations. So what are they doing that you're seeing to address all of these challenges? And then evolve with that sophisticated customer expectation?

 

Stephan Bieber  38:17

Yeah, that's, that's a good question, Tiffany. I think what we see in our ecosystem is companies really focus on I call it world class customer experiences. And those those businesses that do that really well, I think they they focus on implementing kind of an entire customer experience strategy. And focus on achieving higher customer satisfaction rates, reducing churn and increase higher retention rates of those existing customers, right, which is, which is important, it's so expensive to acquire customers, so you want to make sure you you focus on customer retention. We also know that customers are willing to pay more right for a better experience. I think that's, that's important. And, and if the customer experience is even more personalized to the, to the chopper, or b2b customer, we see we see in our data really that you know, roughly half of those customers made additional purchases. So that's, that's important. That's what we see what those really strong companies do. Customer experience I think also impacts you know, the willingness, willingness of a customer to to be a loyal kind of Ambassador right of your company of your brand. And I think the happier customers are the more satisfied they are with the brand with the company the longer they stay with them. I would even say that great. A world class customer experience is a market differentiator, right. If you do that better than the competition then then there's a high likelihood customers will will shop with your with your brand. But again, I think it's important to focus on that entire journey. implement the strategy for your company and not just be limited to specific parts of the customer journey. I think also another challenge is that customer expectations are rising really faster than than your businesses can can improve, right the the overall customer experience of the what what we see interviewing shoppers and customers is stated they expect really every interaction end to end with with the company to be, you know, the best experience they have. And really, no matter what the touch point is, you you interact with, with the with the customer. think at least looking into into our ecosystem, there's some some key areas that we see where companies started to invest into it's, it's spending more time or a lot of time into understanding your your customers collecting customer data, because customer feedback regularly and really focus on improving the overall experience. Also, we see a focus on embracing more kind of a metrics driven approach and introduced customer service metrics, making these not just part of your use of customer support team's goals, but make them part of the overall company goals. And really, you know, striving towards establishing that that customer focused culture right, throughout the organization. So that's, that's something we see a recurring kind of strategy that those companies choose. And then I think I mentioned it a couple of minutes, you know, we see a major major trend in the digital space in the commerce space towards personalizing the customer experience really, and using data technology to customize or tailor that experience to the individual. And and really no matter where you interact with your with your customer. And provide those individualized and tailored experiences to your shoppers. One of the things we did recently, was to survey more than 1000 consumers across the country, really that with a goal of understanding how they feel about the economy, obviously, as we go through some through some tough times, but also how it's impacting their buying habits. And it was interesting that two thirds of those people that responded said that, you know, whether it's shopping in the store or online or in eCommerce, they they want personalized offers, based on their individual habits, and those who have received those more personalized recommendations, right, said that they bought more goods, and that they did additional impulse purchases. So that's a key key thing that those companies start to invest into is how do I make the interaction with the with the customer, more individual more, you know, humanize it? Instead of having this, you know, one size fits all approach. Yeah, and and I think, you know, customers invest heavily into technology, right? invest into leveraging AI driven technologies around product recommendations, AI powered search capabilities to really personalize and customize the experience for for customers. Gautham? What about what about from from your side?

 

Gautham Acharya  43:23

Any kind of a cause what you've seen Stephan, I mean, on the digital side, all the personalization is transpired into what happens post purchase, right? So we're seeing our customers kind of in, invest in creating new fulfillment experiences, like try buy our subscription kind of models, right or, or essentially have the older model of like, kind of view the experience in the store, but then place an order to actually get it delivered to your home. Right. So you shop, the showroom kind of experience. So that's the model that we actually see. Then, we're also seeing different fulfillment methods come into its existence. And so you're seeing like micro fulfillment happening like Doc stores being actually created, to deliver faster, same day delivery, 15 day grocery delivery, 30 day grace, 30 minutes, 15 minute grocery delivery, 30 minutes grocery delivery, right? So those are the kinds of things there's a lot of investment in bottom fulfillment automation as well, that we actually seeing like warehouse systems being driven by robots actually increase the efficiency and cut down a lot of repetitive work that happens to human labor, right. So where our robots don't really have to go through repetitive stress. But people do right and warehouse operations tend to be very repetitive. So we are seeing a lot of efficiencies and safety being brought in by moving the and introducing automation in the fulfillment experience. And to address the supply chain challenges we are seeing like investment going towards a central command and control kind of a model for supply chain operations. So these are typically implemented by digital control towers right where we you kind of plug in and bring past create visibility into your supply chain by bringing inventory and then bringing in purchase orders, your shipments, your logistic providers, and slowly build on one providing your control tower like Top view to see what's happening across your supply chain, etc, essentially important. And then deploying, like machine learning on the data set that you gather to help predict or run what if simulations detect anomalies as they might happen, right are predicted to happen in the future, like, projected stockout. And identified before the stockout can happen, and then start putting in plans to actually remediate that. And the other thing is we to your point where companies are now recognizing customers across all channels of engagement, so it's really important that the personalization doesn't stop in one channel, it gets extended. So if I, as a consumer walk into a store, I expect the store associates to actually know that I made a purchase online, or I made a purchase with the contact center, right? You don't want to go into a store where the sole associate tells you doesn't really recognize you or asks you to call a one 800 Number while you're at the store, and trying to actually do a return right? Or try to actually do a customer service that that's the kind of thing that we're actually seeing as a chef, where you have a consistent shopper experience, purchase post purchase and a lot of personalization trends introduced within the entire shopping paths, right and the brand, the shopper journey..

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  46:53

Awesome. Well, I think this segment could probably go on for two hours, because there's so much robust information to talk about. But I definitely want to get to the questions because the audience has some awesome questions here. And we're about 5 10 minutes left. So one is what can be done to address the ESG you know, the environmental, social governance compliance side of it, when we're talking about being more socially conscious.

 

Gautham Acharya  47:21

Right. Yeah, I can take that to the first important thing to recognize with ESG is many times I mean, you're doing some elements of this, every corporate, every enterprise has corporate social responsibility, they actually do volunteering, they track things in a different level. It's all scattered, right? So it's there today managing some spreadsheets, somebody knows about it, somebody doesn't know about it. So it's extremely important to start looking at your sustainability or ESG compliance, as a practice, as a practice, very similar to and have that rigorous discipline that you actually due to your finance and your revenue, right. So you really need to be aware, and start creating awareness within your company and your enterprise, on what that means. So how does it really impact your business, right? So you start by one, having a strategy of our ESG and what you stand for, as a company, right? And then derive goals on what you want to achieve? Is it complete supply chain transparency, transparency you want to achieve is that you want to be carbon neutral by so and so time. So those are the kinds of things you need to actually start basically putting in as your plans. And then follow that with milestones and milestone tracking. So invest in bringing in ESG reporting and orchestration, technology like a software, right, so So you can basically then collect all of these disparate information sources that you have around sustainability, beat carbon reporting, we had your supplier statistics, your risks related to sustainability, all of that in a single place where you can start not only seeing that, you can start reporting from that for compliance reasons for different countries, and then start taking corrective actions like promoting suppliers who are being socially responsible, right? You want to promote them and you want to actually incentivize other suppliers who are not so I mean, compliant to start following in order to actually become more relevant for you to do business with them. So that's, that's how I would see it as first start off with a view of where you are, what your goals are as a company from a sustainability standpoint, and then start putting in project to actually start tracking these and bringing all of the information together.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  49:55

You brought up transparency, which really is the foundation Yes, for what we're talking about here. And how do you do you have any examples of filling in the gaps? When it comes to the supply chain process and getting that transparency? How does one get there?

 

Gautham Acharya  50:12

Yeah, I think I mean, see, the key thing is, you don't know what you don't know, right? So that the first thing is to actually look internally and do kind of a baseline of your supply chain, right? Where, where do you actually stand, you really need to uncover your processes. A lot of companies have been there doing business for a long time, where the only thing that they actually recognize is when things don't really work, right. So that really many people, because it's been working for 30 years, for years, a long time, I have no idea about all the things that are involved in getting things done. The only time somebody actually interacts or takes action is when things don't work. So the key element is to identify a baseline of your supply chain and identify critical processes, data flows systems, and more importantly, people interactions, right. So who are you interacting with? Who are the people that you're dependent with right? To actually serve you or make decisions? So identify all of this and identify bottlenecks across your people, your processes, and your products and inventory? Right? And all these flows? And then next thing is prioritization on how do you prioritize this? What is the most important thing? I mean, is it inventory that's really critical to you? Are you spending too much money on your procurement? Right? Are you actually incurring losses because of your logistics? Or? Or is your forecasting basically, really off? Because you're now offloaded with a lot of inventory sitting at the end of end of the season, right? So these, so you prioritize them, and then start small, really start small, right? That's very important when you kind of bring a laundry list of tasks that you might need to accomplish, you have to really start small, and then rapidly iterate on it, right, celebrate your successes, figure out what doesn't work, and then start rapidly iterating. One, one example I can give is inventory visibility, right? I mean, it's easy to say, but a lot of companies do not know what's happening with their inventory. Let's start with inventory visibility, right, it could be a first step towards bringing in global view of inventory across your supply chain, and then layer that with promising your demand and then overlay it with what is bringing inventory, like your purchase orders or your transfers, or your requisitions. Right, and keep on adding things to that. That's how we basically look at that,

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  52:35

as well, if we can get into one more question. If there are any other questions that we didn't get to rest assured, we will be following up with everybody. There's some specific questions out there, which is awesome. So we will definitely take those offline and then get to closing remarks here. But one quick question is, how has the shift to personalization affected supply chain operations in term of portfolio assortments?

 

Gautham Acharya  52:58

Stephan, do you want to?

 

Stephan Bieber  53:00

Yeah, I mean, personalization for me is really, you know, create those those custom experiences for your, for your shoppers and customers. And it's really, you know, based on your portfolio, right. So based on existing product portfolio, you want to make sure that you what you display to the to the shopper in various stages during discovery, product, detail page, or even the checkout is highly relevant to them. So I think that's, that's how I would look at personalization, it kind of looks at your, your product portfolio, that that you have established as a as a business as a company as a brand. But then from the past personalization means take that and display what's relevant out of that broader portfolio. And only, you know, present what's what's really hyper relevant to the individual shopper. And to do that, well, you obviously need to understand the customer behavior, collect data. And obviously, as a, as a second track, have a great strategy on the content, right? How do you how do you display that to your shoppers? But that's, that's how I would, you know, tackle this question, but we can also take it, take it as a follow up and go deeper.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  54:20

So 60 seconds, closing remarks, as we already get to the end of the hour, with so fast, so much content, fantastic content, thank you.

 

Stephan Bieber  54:30

Can I go first and then maybe you Gautham so I think we need to be prepared for more disruption in the future, unfortunately. So more swings in inventory. You know, changing customer behavior and demand, more more disruptions, probably and constant challenges in the supply chains. I think employment disruptions will also continue to remain and it's going to be unpredictable going forward still. I think the the in terms of supply chain management I think the focus will be towards, you know, really resilience and you mentioned that talk talk about a Gotham invest into resilience and ensuring stability. And more importantly, having alternatives right to handle those disruptions. And yeah, I would, I would also encourage companies to, you know, look into data, intelligent data analytics, think about an infrastructure to leverage data. And and, you know, the topic that's, that's core to me is really think about those individualized and personalized experiences for your shoppers, as we see that's, that's the big trend going forward and commerce making, making, making it about the individual and an offer those tailored experiences. And then yeah, I think as a final note, from my side is, you know, be be in the present. And that's where your business is currently. But also, you know, look into the future. And, and yeah, think about what needs to be done to be better prepared. As I think personally, the situation where we in is kind of the new normal, and we need to, we need to adapt to it.

 

Gautham Acharya  56:08

Great. So I would kind of a comb, similar things. So be nimble, agile and be ready for disruption. I again, this is the resiliency that we talked about will basically help you adapt to disruption, newer disruption, unseen disruptions, and things that you really couldn't really figure out, right, and maybe another pandemic, we don't want that. But we cannot see what's going to happen tomorrow, right? And experiment, be ready to experiment with new and innovative instrument models. And this is something you do not want to overlook, right? So you have to be prepared to experiment and see what works, you might try out five things. And two things might work, right, three things might not. So be ready to actually experiment and more. automate things that you can actually try and automate, right, and you can drive efficiencies in your operations, you don't want to actually introduce things that basically jeopardize or introduce people in places where you don't need people to do it. warehouse operations, for example, could be automated, you could automate your promising systems when you want order approvals, right? Invest in sustainability and business resilience, very important. Invest in your people use the planet. And, again, that kind of drives profit as well. You can't do sustainability by keeping profits away, you have to be profitable as a business. But at the same time, figure out how you can use sustainability, for driving competitive advantage, right? How you can actually gain and retain your consumers by actually using sustainability as a message, and then invest in technology to bring supply chain partners and customers together, it's very important that you don't try to go into the battle alone, you have to have a core set of partners that you need to bring together. And that means transparent supply networks, right, or digital control towers that span across your industry or your supply network, and have a relentless focus on customer and their overall experience across the channel. It's not just limited to digital, but what happens after that, right? Didn't get delivered correctly. So just if you focus on that, the customers will reward you for that. And lastly, realize that you kind of live by this mantra that no two days are alike in supply chain, you won't see the same day again, right. And you have to build your systems and your business operations to work to this reality.

 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  58:39

Awesome. Well thank you both Gautham, Stephan. Awesome, awesome content, we definitely encourage a follow up conversation with the Adobe and IBM team. So much more information to come. We had a lot of detailed questions. So again, we will make sure to follow up with you. We will take that offline when we do the follow up email after this session. So thank you all for joining. Thank you for participating. Fantastic content and hope to see you in the next step. Thank you guys so much. Thank you. Thanks

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