Supply Chain Modernization & Transformation

During the Pandemic and Beyond

Sep 16, 2021 12:00 pm1:00 pm EST

Summary

Supply chain transformations are in full swing a year and a half since the onset of the pandemic. Initiatives have matured from short-duration business continuity projects to more thoughtful planning and systems upgrades. Senior management teams are on board, as inventory levels and supply chains are emerging as key differentiators for retailers.

Perficient, IBM and BWG Connect together conducted a survey from some of these top industry leaders focused on how businesses are approaching supply chain modernization, automation and transformation throughout the pandemic to the present state.

Join us for an in depth look into these key findings and receive a complimentary copy of the full industry report.

BWG Connect, Perficient & IBM invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • How is supply chain modernization changing organizations priorities - What is most critical & least critical to business success
  • What business outcomes have been impacted the greatest - Leads times, cost of delivery, customer satisfaction, product quality & employee resources
  • Roadmaps & initiatives - Evaluating various types of modernization and technologies
  • Leveraging AI/ML capabilities for order capture, management & fulfillment
  • Adopting a data-driven approach to improve supply chains

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Devanshu Sood

Director, Commerce and Order Management at Perficient

Devanshu Sood is the Director of Commerce and Order Management for Perficient, a leading digital consultancy. In this position, Devanshu delivers large-scale order management solutions and helps clients effectively evolve their businesses. With over 15 years of industry experience, Devanshu is a successful technology and business strategist who specializes in delivering omni-channel eCommerce implementations. Previously, he worked at IBM as a Senior Software Developer.

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jennifer Clark

Product Marketing Manager at IBM Sterling

Jennifer Clark is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at IBM, where she manages the IBM Sterling Order Management Product. Jennifer brings years of strategic marketing and sales growth planning experience to her role at IBM. Before joining IBM, she was the Director of Product Marketing and Go-To-Market Strategies at BlueTarp Financial, where she successfully increased sales volume, customer conversions, and client satisfaction.

Event Moderator

Devanshu Sood

Director, Commerce and Order Management at Perficient

Devanshu Sood is the Director of Commerce and Order Management for Perficient, a leading digital consultancy. In this position, Devanshu delivers large-scale order management solutions and helps clients effectively evolve their businesses. With over 15 years of industry experience, Devanshu is a successful technology and business strategist who specializes in delivering omni-channel eCommerce implementations. Previously, he worked at IBM as a Senior Software Developer.

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jennifer Clark

Product Marketing Manager at IBM Sterling

Jennifer Clark is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at IBM, where she manages the IBM Sterling Order Management Product. Jennifer brings years of strategic marketing and sales growth planning experience to her role at IBM. Before joining IBM, she was the Director of Product Marketing and Go-To-Market Strategies at BlueTarp Financial, where she successfully increased sales volume, customer conversions, and client satisfaction.

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Event Information

Sep 16, 2021 12:00 pm - 1:00 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

BRINGING TOGETHER INFLUENTIAL EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR PROFESSIONALS

What is 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.

Key Discussion Takeaways

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the role of the supply chain has changed for organizations across the globe. With issues surrounding inventory, shipping, and delivery, companies have had to adapt to survive. So, what are the key trends with supply chain modernization, and how can you start improving your solutions today?

A year and a half since the pandemic first began, organizations have found strategic ways to approach supply chain modernization and maintain customer satisfaction. From implementing artificial intelligence solutions — such as chatbots and predictive inventory — to shifting from a B2B model to start selling directly to consumers, companies are transforming the retailer landscape. Now, as brands approach the holiday season and the new year, they are looking for new strategies to overcome supply chain pain points and improve their overall systems.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Jennifer Clark, the Senior Product Marketing Manager at IBM, and Devanshu Sood, the Director of Commerce and Order Management for Perficient, to discuss the latest trends in supply chain modernization. Together, they talk about how order management systems have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, why you should implement AI into your supply chain solutions, and the value of data for boosting customer satisfaction.

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

 

  • Aaron Conant, Jennifer Clark, and Devanshu Sood discuss the recent study about supply chain modernization
  • Why effective order management systems have become more important since the beginning of the pandemic
  • How the role of the supply chain has changed over the past year
  • Jennifer and Devanshu share the pros and cons of the ship-from-store strategy
  • Where are current organizations investing in their supply chain?
  • How to implement artificial intelligence and machine learning into your order management solutions
  • The value of advanced analytics for identifying supply chain efficiencies and inefficiencies
  • Where to start when improving the maturity of your supply chain modernization
  • Jennifer and Devanshu’s tips for navigating inventory, shipping, and delivery pain points to boost client satisfaction
  • How the retailer landscape is changing as more B2B brands are shifting to B2C

Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant 0:18

Happy Thursday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, the Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group with 1000s and 1000s of organizations that do exactly that. We network analysis here together to stay on top of us trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that shaping, you know, digital growth, and overall business growth as a whole. It just so happens a lot of times right now, those are completely combining with each other. And so I chat with 30 to 40 organizations each, each week to stay on top of the trends. And when the same topics come up over and over again, we host an event like this. So this is a unique one as well, because we were able to kind of tap into the network. And do you know, it's kind of an inside report, study, some market research as to, you know, holistically How are people viewing this, and we're going to go through through some of that here. Just a couple housekeeping items. As we get started, we're kicking this off at three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes in the hour to go as well, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get into your next meeting without being late. The other thing that we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, if you have a question, feel free to drop it in the question section, you drop into the chat. And if it's easier, you can always just email me Aaron, aaron@BWGconnect.com and will feel questions that way as well. We want to get as many answered today as possible. But as we before, we got to jump into some of this content as a whole, we got some great friends, partners, supporters of the network for a long time now over at Perficient as well as IBM, and I'm gonna kind of kick it over to Jennifer and Devanshu so you can kind of intro themselves. But Jennifer, you want to go first brief intro on yourself and role in organization. That'd be awesome. And Devanshu about you?

Jennifer Clark 1:56

Yeah, absolutely. And I didn't think anyone could talk faster than I do. So I love that about you. My name is glad to get into this hour. My name is Jennifer Clark, I'm with IBM. So I manage the sterling order management product for IBM. So Australia order management product is the largest in the world, we represent at least 50% of the top 100 retailers in on the globe. So we do a lot with supply chain, specifically on the end side towards the consumer. But we're learning now that the supply chain is really all connected is it from front end, beginning to end. And so I'm happy to sort of share some of the thoughts and customer experiences that we've been having.

Devanshu Sood 2:41

Awesome Devanshu, everyone, my name is Devanshu Sood and I'm a director and a commerce practice at Perficient. For folks who don't know who what Perficient is, we are a leading digital consulting firm, working with some of the biggest brands in helping them transform history. My focus, similar to what Jennifer is, I have been working on the order management site for more than 15 years, I was in the engineering team first and then moved into the product consulting piece of it and been working very closely with some of the biggest retailers here in the US and helping them with their auto commerce order management and commerce implementations.

Aaron Conant 3:17

Awesome. So see, we kind of jump into some of the findings we had from the research we did, you know, people have questions along the way, just dropping the questions in the chat. Obviously, Jennifer, Devanshu, if you want to jump in with commentary, that'd be great as well. But you know, just to kind of, you know, highlight how we took a look at this, you know, that's all number 55, you know, different that's kind of the sample size that we had here, retail product oriented companies, we kind of focus more on executive level leadership to kind of get, hey, what's the real direction of the company? And what are they focus on, we got organizations of all sizes, and but you know, when we think about the roles, we were looking kind of to the upper executive level, but you know, organizations of all sizes, so hopefully, it's very pertinent to most of the people on the line today. If we take a look at, I don't think anybody's surprised by this chart, just looking back at what has happened over the course of the pandemic. You know, there's, you know, everything happening in the supply chain side from containers, imports and getting product here. But, you know, across the board, you know, I think that, you know, if you look at the total overall strategic factor, kind of what this is calling out is like literally today, it's it's it's a focus that people are putting a lot of time and effort into. And certainly by the end of next year, they're going to have one I have a lot of these plans in place. And there's a whole bunch of different moving parts that people are trying to figure out right now. But, I mean, I don't think anybody is surprised that all of a sudden this is top of mind for a lot of executives as a whole. What are those key areas of focus they were kind of honing in on warehouse management upgrades or they're in housing supply chain functions. So this is his companies were looking at Hey, do we outsource or do bring in How do we get the most control? I think you know a lot of that is spurred from you know kind of the container issue and supply chain as a whole how do we get more of this under our own control you know, you jump into transportation carrier relations, supply chain resilience a lot of that was related to you know, building a little bit of buffer as opposed to just in time and then you know, as you get closer to the customer you have the order management upgrades as a whole you know, there's these other bullet points that you know, we can read through we can make sure everybody gets a copy of this you know, I think the one kind of bullet point is the warehouse in order management at 65% and 60% you know, those are you know, showing up in the top five you know as a whole and I think in correct me if I'm wrong but you know Jennifer I'm seeing I'm extracting from that is it doesn't matter if it's great if we get the end or the supply chain at the front end figure it out. But once we get that in we do believe we're going to get that inventory in, we do believe we're gonna get our supply chain figured out, just as important is what are the new customer expectations? And how do we get it to them? I mean, is that something that you're seeing as well and we'd love to hear Devanshu’s thoughts on as

Jennifer Clark 6:17

well. Oh, me too. I will do that five more times. You know, you have you do have some of the companies that really have just been using and relying on the ERPS to do their sales ordering and on all of their inventory management, sourcing etc and so I think there's a realization that oh my goodness you know, we can you know bolt on we don't have to change our European we can just bolt on an order management and be able to do business rules, be able to do you know, contract pricing, be able to set up rules for our best customers to meet SLAs. So I think we're we definitely are seeing that this year. And then we're just seeing a lot of companies who are really efficient in so the first part is, these guys are just learning sort of this that there's Wow, there's order management out there that can do more than my eirp or more than my legacy system. And then you have your retailers who are basically growing and sort of saying Okay, now I need a different order management system, I need to have omni channel fulfillment capabilities that I haven't had before AI that I haven't had before. So that's why I think you're seeing the order management be such a big focus for organizations and I'll pass it over I'm sorry, I jumped in. I get excited

Aaron Conant 7:39

Devanshu I’d love to hear your thoughts here too. Yeah,

Devanshu Sood 7:41

so yeah, on the ERP side, right, exactly what Jennifer said because a lot of folks have homegrown er peas or they bought crps and over the years what they've done is they've customized their ERPs to do order management and inventory stuff which they were not truly meant to do because of the scale right so with pandemic what we saw was in order volume go up the your network of fulfillment is complicated your inventory is all over the place. So you in those cases you and ERP does not scale that well so you have to spend a lot of time on customization so that's where an order management starts being a lot more important actually. So that's what we've been seeing in the industry as well. A lot of focus has been on more taking out the AARP piece of the auto management piece from the RPS to to to to a well defined order management system

Aaron Conant 8:34

yeah yeah I mean it makes sense I know but pretty erp sent standpoint you know for the longest time it was just easier to just don't do a user exit and SAP and updated and yeah,

Devanshu Sood 8:45

absolutely.

Aaron Conant 8:48

If we take a look at you know, supply chain pain points that that stood out and you know, these are you know, and I kind of drafted these out as kind of like a closes to the sourcing side too close to the consumer side. And what we really see is you know, this you know, 33% you know, we got 90% of respondents you know it's going to worsening you know, 33% are saying hey, it's bad, you can kind of like see that how that's going to flow through and I think over time you know, these pain points within the supply chain are going to start flowing through this where Hey, you know, customer satisfaction. You know, while right now it's only impacting 4% say it's really bad. I think that 33% is just going to keep flowing through as that slug goes through this supply chain and then there's more and more inventory showing up things are getting figured out. At the same time custard customer demands are going through the roof right it's a spoiled me now mentality from the consumer side. And so this is going to be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple years. You know, if we kind of jump into the you know, and I think we're in spend, you know, we can come back after some key takeaways spend a lot of time On this slide as a whole is, what does maturity look like? You know, we're asking people for, you know, where are we at today? Where do you think we're going to be? Where do you think you're at? Where do you think the most mature people are at. And it's just an interesting to see, you know, that, you know, as people look at this, you know, in the least mature is 25% are saying modern warehouse management system are the least mature that are out there. I mean, there's, there's half of them there, you know, then on the flip side are saying, hey, most mature were cybersecurity upgrades, and third party delivery partnerships. This is, it's interesting to see how these different pain points are going to play out over time. And now I'm just gonna kind of go to the key takeaways, as a whole, and I don't have to read all of these. But, you know, North America, global supply chains are hindered, you know, multiple challenges across the board, these, these are going to be sticking around for a long time. You know, few areas across the globe and spirit as a whole supply chain initiatives are rapidly rising in priority, we saw that kind of in this, you know, second one, where executives across the board are just saying, hey, at 90% of them, it's right now or it's in the next year, but by the end of next year, we want to have a lot of these things in place. You know, supply chain is, is now how it is now a point of differentiation for enterprises. Yeah, I mean, that's anybody who, you know, got ahead of the game on just in time, and are got ahead of the game on order management on both ends, which includes delivery in you know, orders from the end consumer, they're ahead of the game, right, and those are the ones that are getting the biggest wins at this point in time. I think one of the most interesting things just that I get from talking with organizations is you know, I was kind of mentioning at the beginning of the call was who's sitting now and the executive team right and who's sitting you know, at the board level kind of reporting out where supply chain always had an important role and now they have a seat at the table. So is that something you know, Jennifer, that you're seeing and more than happy to kind of you know, tackle any of these just a reminder others is we kind of get into q&a, we open it up for q&a, drop any questions in the chat in the question section or email them directly to me, Aaron, aaron@BWGconnect.com. Jennifer are used to seeing the same thing, like who's in the executive team meetings now? How has that changed over the past year? You know, that will kind of kick it off there.

Jennifer Clark 12:27

Yeah, we're definitely seeing supply chain functions. We're seeing digital commerce functions, but we hadn't seen those before. And it so had a conversation in the fall actually, with last fall with Opie, one of our retailers and he said, you know, for the first time you're seeing technology, have a seat at the table making these strategic decisions, I think that's what is happening you're seeing all of a sudden all of these different business lines that maybe didn't have a voice at the table. Organizations are realizing that it's you need your your digital, you need your technology, you need your supply chain, you need all these functions to make these collaborative decisions.

Devanshu Sood 13:11

And we've seen the same on the consulting side. So a lot of retailers or businesses are reaching out to us, helping us, asking us to help them define the strategy for the next year. So guide them what what's happening in the market, what the latest trends are, and what they should be doing next. So we are getting involved in a lot of that activity as well now. Yeah,

Aaron Conant 13:32

so you know, if we think about it from you know, it's just a question that comes in around the consumer, the retailer side as a whole, you know, what are your thoughts on you know, if we if we look at some of these things, you know, I kind of play them out of you know, warehouse management, you know, robotics gets bought in third party delivery partnerships. ship from store, do you see this popping up? I have a couple people asking across you know, is that what are your thoughts around that? And are you seeing people adopted? How are they handling the orders for it? We'd love to hear your thoughts there.

Devanshu Sood 14:06

So let me let me do

Jennifer Clark 14:15

the microg.

Devanshu Sood 14:17

Yeah. So ship from store was actually a great way to utilize your inventory last year right when your DCs were running low on inventory, the stores not as many people coming in. So it was a great way for for for organizations to start utilizing their inventory. So we saw a ton of customers come to us that they wanted to implement ship from store but but post holidays, or what we saw was because if you're not like a big box retailer, like a Home Depot or a target and you have relatively smaller stores, and you you were offering ship from store what what happened there was because you were shipping from your smaller stores your orders were splitting into multiple shipments. And that actually was impacting the bottom line because because the more the more shipments you have for an order, the less profit you make. So so a lot of retailers what they are doing this year is trying to figure out a sweet spot of the number of stores they are going to use for for Ship to Shore. So we had a retailer Who were you initially started with all the stores now they've cut down to like 10 or 15 stores, they've gone really down. And another thing which retailers are looking to do is implement, as in use some of the store as dark stores so they don't have customers walking in, but they are using those stores for for shipping only. So I really like ship from store as a concept because it gives you an alternate way to fulfill the order utilize your inventory better, but then you as an organization need to decide what what stores are important for you, as you need to decide which stores you need to ship from and the number of stores you want to choose.

Jennifer Clark 15:55

I totally echo that I think the the issues are making sure you have the right processes and people. So you need to take someone out of the store to pick and pack and they need to ship. So we here advantage isn't necessarily, it is a little bit of cost efficiencies. But it's really customer satisfaction because you're getting into the customer sooner, but you are trading off some other things. And then layer that on top of technology, if you don't have the right visibility into with the inventories in your stores, your bricks and mortar, then you sort of are potentially adding some disruption to both your associates as well as your customer. So I think there's pros and cons. And definitely last year we saw, you know, there seemed to be I don't remember what it was, but it was a cut off in like December from our carriers, like sorry, but we can't get to you by Christmas, you know, if you don't order and ship by this day. So having the ability to ship from store is really key. You know, so perhaps like, you know, like we said that you, you different stores, depending on where the volume is, maybe this also different time periods, you know, so I think I

Aaron Conant 17:09

Devanshu what you’re saying and I think your equity Jennifer's like initially it was everything. And now it's a was it really meaningful, I think across the board, people are looking at profitability as a whole. And, you know, if we think about it from that standpoint, you know, any of this stuff takes an investment, but hopefully at the end there's you know, increased profitability, and where are you seeing organizations invest in their supply chain? So there's, you know, a ton of bullet points that are on this slide here. Maybe this is some of them, maybe there's other ones that you guys think are that are top of mind that you're seeing as well. But you know, where are you seeing organizations invest across the board to improve their slides supply chain, and it can be from, you know, supplier to vendor, it could be anywhere in there.

Jennifer Clark 17:55

But it sort of surprised me, when you showed this I, I thought to myself, it could be the type of clients that we have. But you know, definitely digital customer journeys, moving data to a public cloud that's really, really big. So I think those I recently heard that the RFID is something that's, you know, my scope of things that we're doing, they've heard that that's going on, in that allows for more modernization of the security so that I'm using different technologies, you can try to think of the way to say do self checkout. So you can go into a Walmart and do self checkout, that's probably not a great example. But without having to unlock your security tag. So there are coming up with all new technologies for that, and that again, goes back to labor. So I think that's why it's a big issue. If you have any other thoughts,

Aaron Conant 18:55

Devanshu, yeah, I'd love to hear like where you see people investing across, you know, to improve their supply chain across the board.

Devanshu Sood 19:02

So on the commerce side, right, I didn't sell his eCommerce side of things. So some of the things we're seeing as businesses trying to find out new ways to, to get the product out of the door, right. So so one of the things we saw heavily was a concept of same day delivery or a two hour delivery or a three hour delivery. So a lot of retailers we work with are trying to do that. So essentially, instead of shipping from your warehouse, if somebody wants something immediately they order something overnight, instead of that next day shipping. So what what we've done as a part of an extension of the ship ship from store project is we we are enabling retailers to be able to ship products using on demand carriers like Uber Eats or Postmates doordash is of the world. So we've seen customers focus on that. Last year it was traditionally the next thing we've seen is the curbside pickup right as everybody started curbside pickup. So last year, when we started curbside pickup, it was more like putting a bandaid in. Because everybody really wanted curbside pickup. We, we just passed basic information to the store, but the customer still had to call the store when when he was on the curb and let let the store rep know that he is there, then you have to wait for this stuff. So this year, what we are seeing is retailers actually are trying to make the solutions better. So one of one of the retailers we were working with is doing something like geo fencing. So if a customer has an app installed, retailers app installed on the phone, they reach within the vicinity of the parking lot, a message automatically goes to the Store app and the store that can bring the product out without and it kind of reduces the wait time. So helping serve the customer better. That's that that's, that's another area of focus. So we are largely a one thing, which was because of pandemic, you never know when your offices are on call centers are being shut down. One of the other other things we've seen around the customer service improvement piece of it, what we've seen is, a lot of retailers want to do something for the CSRS to be still able to take orders when they are at home. But because it's not a PCI compliant environment, we've seen retailers ask for something like a payment link where we'll call the CSR. The CSR is at home, rather than taking the card number on the phone, the CSR sends them a link on their email or text, the customer opens opens the link enters enters the card information and when when he's done entering the card information, the CSR can complete the order. So that those are some of the customer service improvement areas, some of the additional fulfillment channels or ways in which they can serve the customer better. We've seen a lot of investment around those areas.

Aaron Conant 21:51

Yeah, I mean, it makes sense. I mean, hi, how are you handling then, you know, the complexity around the back end, when we think about inventory, you know, where it's located, how it's moving. You know, obviously, that's where the ERP comes in. And I know there's a lot of people saying, Hey, you know, I updated the ERP, but also, you know, if you got 1000 user exit in there, it's kind of tough, you know, how are you? How are you looking at, you know, updating, you know, order management as a whole and handling that.

Devanshu Sood 22:19

So, you know, as we've been fortunate enough, because we've been working with some of the best auto management in the country, and especially the sterling order management piece of it. So the product does a great job in supporting the business use cases. So So we, we have a good product out there which can accept those benefits when you start bringing the store inventory and you have all those all those transactions, store inventory coming in all those transactions, all the cash and carry transactions coming in, which kind of is too much for any RP to handle so that that's where we work closely with with the RP team and get that inventory into a centralized order management system and do a better job in promising promising that inventory.

Aaron Conant 23:05

Jennifer I’d love to hear your thoughts, there's one. Yeah, we were also

Jennifer Clark 23:09

seeing a you know, a lot of, especially on an industrial side, a lot of businesses that have run through acquisitions. So now you're dealing with multiple siloed inventory, and there are products and solutions out there that can take that data, working with the RP to create one single view and help organizations manage and it's not just, it's not small organizations, I've done a ton of focus groups this year and you'd be surprised at how many companies have that disadvantage of not having a full view of where their inventory is. And so one of the things that we really wanted to do was be able to work with grps you know, rather than replace it ERP because your ERP really does great financial work and great you know, human resources types of things. So we have sort of these headless applications that can kind of come right in and bolt in and you know, bring these inventories to one view

Aaron Conant 24:11

what about in the areas like analytics? Right I there's a lot of things get thrown around in its analytics, it's machine learning it's AI it's I think they all go together and yet they're just kind of thrown around like any insights and you know how you guys are using any of that to help you know in a way that brands or you know retailers on the line should think about you know, applying that to their supply chain things they should be thinking about are using or implementing

Jennifer Clark 24:42

Yeah, I mean I'm I'm I'm definitely one sided when it comes to that question, because we see we're using artificial intelligence in our fulfillment solution. So being able to take the information from the order and Chairman The best way to source the inventory as well as to deliver it at a cost efficient manner so we have one company that's using that that's saving, you know 10 million a month doing that. So that solution has been out for several years. I think retailers are just starting to get comfortable with the concept of AI and the concept of trusting a computer to make decisions for you that sometimes seem illogical and you know, that solution we've seen really become a have a big focus this year. We're also working on an AI to be able to do predictive inventory so that will be out later this year. But I think that's really where you see you're gonna see a lot of you know, our our IBM competitors doing all sorts of as well as IBM as all sorts of AI predictive analytics because really that's you we didn't have the need to do that before But to your point we were talking about earlier Aaron is like you can't really determine what inventory you need for this holiday because no one left their houses last holiday and so you don't have the trends you used to do you really need that sort of computer to be able to help make those decisions for you. Yeah, I agree and it's

Aaron Conant 26:26

just interesting than just going back I'm going to flip back a few slides just going to you know this one right here the a pre pandemic it was just there's a few leaders out there but most people were okay but the rate at which people are adopting digital right now and have been in it's not slowing and and the fact that we're you know 20 months in it's not going back to where it was before right it is it's now demanding a different viewpoint on the world and I think you know, like kind of what you were saying is like people are starting to adopt this more and more it's almost table stakes at this point in time to be implementing some of these things or you will be left behind right that's kind of what I took away from you know, this one is you know, you've got 12 to 18 months is kind of the timeframe I put on this slide here before those major you know, as that 33% makes its way through the supply chain and you have to be willing to test and learn and experiment. Devanshu I don't know I'd love to hear your thoughts on the you know, the AI side as well you know, letting you know machine learning you know, having it crunch data having it collect data crunch data and have it make a decision Are you seeing people adopt

Devanshu Sood 27:49

this and it's it's the adoption beginning to get there so businesses have started using AI for for a few things right? So Jennifer mentioned like the predictive demand so what essentially that helps is, if if for a retail retailer, to figure out how much product to stock in a particular location and and come to an optimum level right because you don't want to be under stocking are always talking in a particular location. So that's fair, we've seen AI as an AI being involved a lot to figure out what what what what can be stored in a particular location. The other thing at least on the order management side is one of the things which which is beginning to be more important is the predictive as in US AI use AI for order routing. So traditionally, it used to be like static rules that I want to fulfill from the nearest door or whenever I have the least shipment so you you didn't have any intelligence behind it. But But now what we've seen as especially with products capabilities, which are there is an order is not just a standalone order anymore, it's a combination of all the other demand out there so if you have a product which is which is being sold a lot in New York, and if a customer in New York orders that so do you want to ship it from that particular store in New York or do you want to ship it from an Ohio area where the demand for that would be less so we've seen that a lot and at least on the order routing side and that's something which is going to get more and more important as we go on. So is

Aaron Conant 29:24

it taking into the account as well like the different shipping methods like how many different data points are being you know consumed, right? Hey this this product was never bought in store but as you know, getting shipped 10 times a day, you know from a different you know, from a delivery method and then taking a look at different delivery methods determine how much inventory is where, like, how deep does that go? I mean, we'd love to hear your thoughts there. I mean, how many different data points and then are people building that on their own

Devanshu Sood 29:57

so are our focus has been mostly on working with products like like the IBM Sterling order management who have those capabilities will tend right? So IBM has a big engineering team who's who's innovating all of that for us. So we just take and run with it. Behind the scenes, obviously, there is a lot of data crunching, which goes on how many orders are being placed in the Ohio area, in this example, what's what's the store traffic, like in the New York area, what's the predictive demand on on in the New York side of things, so if it takes a lot, and what the trends are gonna be, so all of that all of those things factored into the decision as to where to route the order from.

Aaron Conant 30:41

So I keep that region for like, what it is I kind of, I was just kind of pulling some threads there that come top of mind for me, but where's, you know, what advanced analytics are using to identify, you know, different efficiencies, inefficiencies, you know, across the, you know, the supply chain landscape, to

Jennifer Clark 31:01

I mean, you're really talking about that, and it really that's the the golden standard right now is get the data and figure out, you know, what, what you need to stock where you need to soccer, what's selling, what's not selling, and some of our systems do that some of them don't, but that's really what a lot of customers are doing right now is they're taking that data and they're taking it to personalize so you, that's a big thing that's coming around that, you know, I want to personalize when Aaron comes to my site, I know he likes this and so I'm going to disturb them up some more of this. So it's really all about that data and and, you know, as we talked about, we have some solutions that will take and do best will determine the best choice, we have other systems that will help determine where things are selling where they're not selling. We don't try to think of the I've seen this, we don't actually do it, but the data all the way down to you know, like jansport they build backpacks, they can tell where their zipper is sourced from you know what country and what the inventory is and if they're going to run out of it and if they need to look at their tier two or tier two supplier for that zipper so it's super interesting the way that that is being used and I do think that that's in light of what we're we're all going through and having gone through I think that's really really what we'll continue to see as a focus

Aaron Conant 32:31

awesome so just as we get kind of halfway through the hour here just a quick reminder have an awesome conversation around basically the maturity of the supply chain and that's all the way from sourcing to end consumer order management and getting the product to them so if you have any questions along the way Don't hesitate to drop them into the question section that you have they're more than happy to get any of them answered or chat them in or email them to me Aaron aaron@bwgconnect and we'll keep getting them answered there is there a starting point that you see is you know there's what what is there you know 10, 14 different things list here now in everybody is seeing and now they have from the executive teams right they're saying hey get this figured out it's a huge issue we need to address it I want to put time effort money people whatever it takes behind it. Where do we start? And that's an interesting one like Devanshu I'll kick it over to you first and then kick it over Jennifer. Where should people start looking first

Devanshu Sood 33:33

so I think it feel bleeding revenue I think you should definitely be starting there if so if you do not have the correct inventory in your systems and you cannot show that to the customer for for violent pick up in store or use that inventory to ship product out. I think that's definitely where you should be starting. But but then it also depends on the resources your organization has available, right like integrating an order management with with AI chatbot is something which is fairly easy and we've seen that request pull up a lot. So essentially, it's it can be done very easily and it brings in a lot more value on the customer side where customers can check the status of their order. Add more lines cancel stuff, issue start returns up so so as an organization you need to value as they want a quick wins or do you want something which might take a bit longer and and might be slightly more costly and based on the number of resources and the money you have you take a decision based on that.

Aaron Conant 34:40

Are you helping walk people through that? Suppose people were like hey, where do I get started? Do we just connect them to you? We do

Devanshu Sood 34:45

we do. So typically with all our existing clients and our new clients, when we are existing like we do have quarterly meetings we tell them what what's going on. What are the latest trends in the market what what our team is seeing how thing with you guys right now. And this is what we suggest you should be doing. And for for new clients, as I mentioned earlier, we are getting a lot of strategy requests in helping them evaluate what what systems they should be buying. And with those systems, what their what their strategy should be, how are we trying to set what their problems are, and then prepare a roadmap for them.

Aaron Conant 35:21

That's awesome. Because I think a lot of people, they know what needs to be done, they know there's a million different people out there to help them solve it, and they need to wade down to the one or two that can actually help them do it. So awesome. Love it. You know, Jennifer, from your standpoint, where do you see people starting? Like, what's the kind of the recommendation, step one, step two, step three, whatever it might be, as people try to kick this off over the next, you know, 12 to 18 months?

Jennifer Clark 35:47

No, I think, for me, it's really about, you know, what's right for their business. I mean, that's really, I think, the most important thing, and we certainly don't try to impress our technology for that reason. But if I looked at today, and, you know, my, my initial thoughts are, you know, we have labor concerns, you know, we have inventory concerns, you know, we have shipping concerns, you know, what is a business can you fix today, probably not too much, but you can maybe incentivize people to to work for you, you can set expectations with your customers about, you know, maybe you're not going to have promotions, this holiday, maybe you're going to do promotions only for your loyal customers versus you know, anyone else. So thinking about how you sort of want to, to be able to fix today, what's going on today. And then the parallel path to that, for me is what's going on today, that you really need to fix for the future. And I think that's where some of your technology comes in. And, you know, whether it's, you know, on your on where you are on your adopting journey, you know, it's, it could be, you know, your modern order management system, because I'm biased like that. It could just be your warehouse system, you know, we have a company who's really awesome to work with. And they already have order management, they're updating their, they kind of went like that they're updating the warehouse management, and then augmenting additional services for order management. So you know, it's just, it's really where, you know, sort of think about today and where you're going today, but also think about what your company will need in the future. And it's different for every company.

Devanshu Sood 37:33

And sometimes, it's very easy, that easy leap, folks get sucked into, we want to transform our systems and they take too much stuff. So I start upgrading their website, they start doing their order management, and we're also at the same time, so it's, it's really critical for businesses to figure out, what do you need first, or where where do small wins come from, because if you start undertaking all these, all these systems, then you have limited folks available who are going to be participating in all those meetings, that's where projects start to run behind. So that that's what we advise customers against, our approach is always to, to do an MVP first and then go bigger, and then maybe start in one place and then then slowly roll out the program as to or to other aspects as well.

Aaron Conant 38:18

Yeah, I mean, that's one of the most difficult parts is picking Which one are you gonna go with first? Right, I mean, it is, you know, under appreciated in the past, and then now is you know, being overworked. I mean, they're their list of new tasks. And I think you nailed it about you including on the direct to consumer side and a website side, you know, they're trying to integrate 15 different suppliers, 20 different, you know, vendors in the back end, you know, get it all plugged in, whether it's, you know, new delivery partners or it's recurring payments or subscription providers or alternative payment methods everything's getting plugged in at once. And you know, I think Yeah, I liked what you're saying is, you know, kind of put them on the table and then pick the one you're going to go after in and start working on that one first. What is the most you know, what's the most important and what's that minimum viable product you can get out there and get working on right away and test and learn on it? I think the only thing that's the wrong step is to not do anything and hope this all figures itself out. Jennifer the story just because they really do give any feeling like is it a year is it two years does this supply chain thing get itself worked out?

Jennifer Clark 39:33

I you know, I've read a lot. Here's the ball. That was at a dinner I think I told you last week with a bunch of retailers and they they're saying 2023 You know, they're saying it's this isn't coming anytime soon. And that's why I said you know, you when you run parallel paths, this is long term and how are you going to manager your business knowing that these shortages may continue to happen whether it's raw material No but I think I told you it's 120 days for denim you know foam is nowhere to be found the you have these raw material issues you have the you know production issues so we talked about Vietnam you know where where these guys are sick and we're not getting the manufacturing you know the shipping not only the shipping that are imports that aren't moving or that are on sandbars but the shipping prices are going up and so you know we have a good at least 18 24 months ahead of us How are you starting to plan for that that's my guess that if I had a crystal ball I think I would be rich but I don't

Aaron Conant 40:48

that I just the the container prices as a whole just you know being up tenfold you know over the course of the past 18 months sometimes you know 13 14 fold and even if you had negotiated contract rates you don't have those containers available because they're selling them there for so much more.

Jennifer Clark 41:06

It's Yeah, I'm sorry I didn't realize there was that unmuted I I actually heard that last week from a retailer and that they're they're not honoring their contracts there's no regulation so that industry so they can do whatever they want to do and so you know they're it's basically a bidding war for this for the supply it's it's unbelievable to me that that's going on

Devanshu Sood 41:31

unless you are like one of those big ones where you own your own ships or or I was reading I think Home Depot or one of those big retailers they own their own ships and container so it's, they've been not affected by it that much. But but for the rest the shipping cost has been gone like six standard times, eight times 10 times. So the only option they have is either they pay more for the week. So and even then even if they're paying they don't know if it's going to be delivered on time so it's quite unpredictable these days.

Aaron Conant 42:02

It's interesting there's there's that pain point on one side. But at the same time what we have from a customer standpoint, the end consumer is I still expect it in a day or two days at the max I don't want to wait any longer for that. And so I think you know, it'd be remiss to just work on you know, the supplier side of supply chain and you know making sure you get that in maybe it's not just in time inventory anymore. May maybe have you know, bigger safety stocks or whatever it might be. But at the end of the day you still need to get it to the end consumer right as quickly as possible and the most efficient way as possible. Are you seeing changes in delivery methods at all I know you were talking about you know maybe using these third party delivery partnerships like Uber and stuff but we'd love to hear you know when we have a question but I'd love to hear your thoughts on you know from a from a delivery you know order management you know getting it in the system but then routing it to the right delivery method. Whether it is you know buy online pick up in store delivery from store over I mean get it right into your your three PL you know there's some cool digital age three pls that are popping up that are servicing a lot of different retailers as a whole like it see that part changing like is you have to have that in place is there like a great place to start on that side? And then we have another question that comes in I want to tackle

Devanshu Sood 43:32

So yeah, I think the biggest thing we've seen is a lot of them have bought the same day delivery piece because initially we started with the same day delivery and but then when some of the feedback we got from the customers was you're calling it a same day delivery to be if I wanted at 10am in the morning will I get it by end of the day because that's technically same day as well. So so so what we've done is after after the first version of implementing CMD delivery we we've we've tried to narrow down the windows v the retailer we're working with is we cut down the SLA on our end on the automatic bid side and on the store and work with the store side so to make sure this stuff is delivered within like three hours so we are calling it as a three hour delivery no because that if you are ordering by 10am and then same day delivery might be like end of day but three hour delivery at least tells you that you're going to get it by one. So that that's the biggest thing with carriers and all an orange Jennifer if you have any thoughts around that we've not seen seen a lot of change except for carriers charging charging a bit more because they are all loaded as well. They are short short on drivers as well. So that's what we've seen but Jennifer, do you have any thoughts on

Jennifer Clark 44:48

that I I sort of echo what you just said I mean I've seen ups come out and do mass hiring. You know just to be able to satisfy the the upcoming holiday demand You know, we saw everything last year Aaron It was like anything that could stick to get orders out the door we were sort of doing it so from everything from curbside to same day dropship marketplaces you name it, we sort of did it and I think that is really sort of unwinding a bit to back to what's it what's the What does the business want to do what's their overall strategy and and we just actually we just came out with a solution that helps put all of that into place it's a nice little plug for me but one of the pieces of it takes into account delivery costs and the business owner can manage the delivery cost automatically and use the vendor that's you know, has the best cost today versus if somebody wanted to order tomorrow so there's there's all of that type of technology that's going on to try to optimize you know, all of those fulfillment opportunities

Aaron Conant 46:00

Yeah, another thread I want to pull there but hey we have a kind of a comment a question that came in and you know what I want to get to is around you know, actual manufacturers brands becoming retailers and how that's changing the landscape of the traditional retailer space but you know, kind of writes it says a I'm in the construction industry and we deal with a lot of made to order product and we're hearing from our manufacturers that there are a lot of labor issues shortages as well which are contributing to delays and we're finding this spilling into the trucking industry as well you know any thoughts on on that have you seen the same thing

Jennifer Clark 46:36

it's really the perfect storm right now and and you know, I think I said I wasn't going to say that but you have your your manufacturing not being able to make it because of raw materials then you try to ship it there's no the log of the long haul truckers are significantly understaffed I think they have one driver for every nine that they need you know, so it is really just an awful ripple effect that's going on man it's

Aaron Conant 47:09

it's a it's across the board and then on the flip side is when it gets to the warehouse, right? We've seen this stack up on the on the Amazon side is there enough people to unload it? There's so many trucks going in there aren't enough people then at the warehouse to unload it. So then it keeps keeps going down the chain further. There, you know, how have you seen you know, brands adapt to becoming retailers, right, the you know, traditional, I'm shipping to a store and they're selling it to now I've got my own direct consumer site weight and I can actually ship other people's product as well, I've seen that pop up is that I think it's a trend that's here to stay. I mean, there's some that doesn't really make sense for the smaller CPG item. But you know, in other spaces, it makes perfect sense. So they you guys seen that the same kind of issues that are they popping up more and more on your radar as well.

Devanshu Sood 48:03

They do and it is especially so so one of the big brand which which perficient works with, they used to sell laundry to luxury departmental store. So So what happened was because, and they were primarily made to be prior to the pandemic. So with stores being closed down, they they saw the company competitors trying to go B to C so they decided to go B to C and so we definitely saw that but other thing which came with it is they actually were on the cutting edge they they started innovating. So our team worked with the with their team in in creating a mobile application which which essentially what it does is it scans your body body and then ask you like three or four questions and based on that, we give you a list of personalized products for for that particular brand. So, so again, so and that was an example of a business which transitioned from pure b2c b2b to b2c because they started selling to the customer directly and but but on top of that, they were able to innovate and get a lot of traffic, or b2c traffic. And it was pretty, pretty widely appreciated throughout the industry.

Aaron Conant 49:17

super interesting. Jennifer, are you seeing the same thing as this massive shift to, you know, traditional b2b to wait a minute, like, well, I just popped my own website and then, you know, you're you're managing, you know, inventory and orders and pricing and everything else in a whole different fashion.

Jennifer Clark 49:33

Right, we're definitely seeing it. It's it's more I think, in the year, you probably have heard this, I'm not saying anything new, pushed by the fact that the business customer, or the end user is a consumer on all of these great websites. So they expect this sort of experience a digital experience that they're not getting from their b2b. You know, A customer or brand so that's really what I'm saying I still don't think it's 100% there yet you know, I think you're gonna see the shift more over the next couple of years. Everything I read said it's here it's here but I'm not seeing it just a little bit here and there. So I do think that it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

Aaron Conant 50:20

So we have a few minutes left here I want to make sure that we kind of get over two key takeaways You know, its thoughts as a whole, you know, the things that came up today or the things that didn't come up today that she thought might that are kind of key takeaways and I'll start with you, Jennifer. And then we'll go to Devanshu as we kind of get to the last couple of minutes here.

Jennifer Clark 50:41

I'm trying to think of I mean, this was super interesting I think you know, much like I've expressed from from last week when I had visited with retailers was that I expected there to be a lot more conversation about inventory and and how you optimize it so this is really interesting for me because it's really about moreso the holistic split supply chain and and what we should or should not be doing or considering so I think that was really good for me, you know, and I I know that I think for me the takeaways as I've sort of been looking at this over the last couple of weeks is you know, the labor shortages this the shipping issues, the raw material issues like this stuff is is is going on and how do we continue to stay focused on it and and try to reinvent ourselves with less so I think

Aaron Conant 51:42

the inventory side is if you can get it exactly right like we got it now let's get it out the door and make some money yeah. Devanshu, we’d love to hear you know, your key takeaways and thoughts here.

Devanshu Sood 51:57

Oh, no. So I think we've covered a lot of stuff. So one thing which which additionally, we've seen a lot is the growing presence of social media and driving brand perception and, and driving trends. So what we've seen is retailers you use Dave been running a lot of sentiment analysis on their brands and the trends and trying to figure out what what what were our customers looking at. And then based on that, asking the designers or manufacturers to make stuff like that and try to get it as quickly as critique the country and out of the door so that so social media is being a big, big presence. Now Yeah, and

Aaron Conant 52:36

that Yeah, yeah, it's been huge and you know, as a sales channel as well. I see we're kind of getting right to time here. I do want to say a quick thank you to everybody who joined today all the great questions that came in thanks for sharing look for a follow up email from us, we'd love to have a conversation with you and things that are going on in this space, other pain points, other topics for discussions we might have, you know, device you Jennifer, thanks so much for your time and your expertise today. If anybody needs any any follow up information on this once a deeper dive discussion on anything that we talked about today 100% we're setting up a time you know, the connect with Devanshu or Jennifer on any of this stuff, they're all around great friends, partners, supporters of the network, working with a lot of brands in the network as a whole and just a great overall contact point is you know, so if you're looking for additional information more than happy to kind of grow the network and do what we do best here which is connect resident experts so whole, so more than happy to to connect you with them. And with that, I think we're gonna wrap it up. I hope everybody has a fantastic Thursday. Have a great rest of the week. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you on a future event. Alrighty, thanks again, Jennifer, Devanshu.

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