Social Supply Chains

Social media in the B2B capacity

In case you’ve been living under a rock, social media has completely changed eCommerce on a global scale. For the average consumer, its become second nature to follow trends online and searching for the best deals. Social media has certainly thrived in a business-to-consumer (B2C) setting, as online retail giants Amazon and Overstock.com can attest. But will social media survive in a business-to-business (B2B) capacity? Will this strengthen supply chains?

Social media with B2B might predict future inventory needs

A recent example of social supply chain involves global retail giant Walmart. After acquiring Kosmix, a social media platform, Walmart plans to devise and develop social, and mobile, networking capabilities within their supply chain. Kosmix, now renamed WalmartLabs, hopes to enhance Walmart’s communicative collaborations with customers, suppliers, and logistic service providers.

“Social networking and mobile applications are increasingly becoming a part of our customers’ day-to-day lives globally, influencing how they think about shopping, both online and in retail stores,” said Mr. Castro-Wright, Vice Chairman for Walmart, in a statement.

Anand Rajaraman, co-founder of Kosmix, said in the Walmart statement: “Our work has focused on developing a social genome platform that captures the connections between people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through social media.”

So, what does that mean? Simply stated, introducing social media in the supply chain puts people, not documents, in the middle. Facilitating a social supply chain environment allows intuitive growth, design and flow. According to Mr. Rajaraman, social media can even predict customer demands, which helps determine what new products should be added to different stores, “We’re analyzing social information for the neighborhood area of each store,” he said. “How should the interests of a community influence the assortment in the store?”

Here is one example. Perhaps after investigating your data you find an increase of social activity pertaining to “hiking boots” resulted in increased buying activity during fall, but primarily on the East Coast. This saves the company time and money during the following season.

Is it the next step?

Realistically, social supply chain is the next step of eCommerce development. Indeed, as Facebook and Google+ connect personal social circles, social media within the B2B environment creates enterprise collaboration with suppliers. B2B software companies, like Moxie Software and Yammer, can harness how people down the supply chain communicate and collaborate with one another, or improve how companies analyze real-time information to help make smart business decisions. The end goal enables an efficient, money-saving social supply chain.

Green Supply Chain: Changing the Corporate World while Saving the Environment

Our world is currently undergoing major environmental change-researchers claim that the extreme weather occurring of late is caused by our lack of concern for the Earth. We tend to take our resources for granted considering the growing world population, resulting in resource depletion. Legislation enforcing stricter environmental regulations will soon be passed in America. The concern for environmental issues has also caught the eye of the corporate world. Companies are quickly realizing that green supply chains will help them reduce costs while helping save the environment.

Green Supply Chain: What is it, and Why use it?

A green supply chain is the process of using and transforming environmentally friendly inputs through change agents, whose byproducts can be used to improve the environment, or be recycled. Companies in the corporate world are realizing that using a green supply chain can be a competitive advantage in the marketplace; they are coming up with innovative solutions for which a green supply chain will help them save money and help the environment. For example, some companies are focusing on indirect purchases to help prevent environmental issues. Reducing the amount of cardboard used for packaging, and creating “smart packages” will help the company save money, and contribute to the environmental cause. Another way sustainability can be profitable is through the organic food craze- grocery stores charge high prices, and make a large profit off organic food that consumers are willing to pay much extra for. The green supply chain phenomenon also gives rise to a new industry- companies specializing in sustainability training and certification.

Real World Examples

The concept of the green supply chain has already spread to several Fortune 500 companies. General Motors (GM) reduced disposal costs by $12 million by establishing a reusable container program with its suppliers. PG&E has also been supporting green supply chain efforts- it gave its first Green Supply Chain award to Southwire Company. Southwire Company converted 1/3 of its cars to hybrids, thereby reducing landfill waste by 27%. It also eliminated lead activities from its products. Walmart has also begun implementing the green supply chain, and has seen an increase in profits by 7% ever since.

Inmar: Leader in Reverse Logistics Solutions

Interested in reducing your company’s rate of returns and improving trading partner relations while displaying a commitment to customer satisfaction and the environment? If so, implement reverse logistics solutions for your company today. Reverse logistics solutions can benefit your company greatly, and provide valuable data that can better its future functioning. Inmar Reverse Logistics, a company specializing in reverse logistics solutions for over 30 years, guarantees that by using its reverse logistics solutions, your company will receive maximum value.

Types of Reverse Logistics Solutions that Inmar Offers

1) Returns Management: A reverse logistics solution that monitors the reverse logistics process from the initial return authorization to final disposition. This includes facility management, financial management, processing of all physical returns, etc.
2) Asset Recovery: Maximizing the value/revenue of the overstocked, obsolete, surplus products while taking into consideration the brand value.
3) Re-Marketing: A solution that calculates the maximum value from the returned product, and conducts re-marketing strategies, such as refurbishing or repacking, accordingly.
4) Supply Chain Consulting and Analysis: This reverse logistics solution focuses on ensuring the efficient removal of waste, while minimizing loss and risk. This is done through detailed analysis of your company’s supply chain processes.
5) Recall Management: Focuses on liability issues, product reliability and payment, consumer safety, and brand image recovery/management.

Reverse Logistics Solutions Excellence

A leader in providing reverse logistics solutions, Inmar received the Reverse Logistics Operational Excellence Award from the Reverse Logistics Association in March 2011. Inmar won this award due to its exceptional work for their client, ADT. Inmar Reverse Logistics provides technology-driven reverse logistics solutions to a client base of over 300. Their clientele base is spread over a variety of diverse markets, including Toys, Consumer Goods, Footwear and Apparel, Pharmaceutical Companies, etc. Other successful companies specializing in unique reverse logistics solutions include GENCO and ModusLink.com Global Solutions. GENCO’s reverse logistics solutions focus on managing the complete returns management process for its customers throughout the whole of North America, while ModlusLink Global Solutions focuses on integrated returns management, repair, and asset disposition solutions.

Reverse Logistics Process: How to Increase Profits by Sending Products Back

Though supply chain logistics has been the primary focus, an increasing number of companies are discovering the great deal of money that can be made in looking the opposite way, and sending things back. Reverse logistics is a rapidly advancing concept in today’s business world, as Third Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) discovered that up to 7% of an enterprise’s gross sales can be captured by return costs through the reverse logistics process.

What is the Reverse Logistics Process?

In a nutshell, the reverse logistics process is that of removing new or used products from their initial place in the supply chain; this occurs when customers return products, and when there is overstocked inventory or outdated merchandise. The products are then redistributed from the point of consumption to the point of origin, in order to recapture product value. The ultimate goal of the reverse logistics process is to maximize value, or achieve proper disposal of the product to the satisfaction of the customer or consumer, as customer satisfaction is the number one priority.

How does it Work?

The detailed reverse logistics process differs based on the company’s unique products and policies. According to Chuck Poirier of the Computer Sciences Corporation, the reverse logistics process can be broadly outlined in five points:

1)      Reconditioning- when a product is cleaned, repaired, and restored to a “like new” state.

2)      Refurbishing- a more detailed form of reconditioning, particularly in repairs.

3)      Remanufacturing- Requires disassembling and reassembling the product entirely.

4)      Resell- when the reconditioned, refurbished, or remanufactured product is sold again as new.

5)      Recycle- when a product is reduced to its basic elements, which are reused.

A Booming Industry’s Success Stories

The concept of reverse logistics has created the new industry of Third Party Logistics Providers (3PLs), which specialize in reverse logistics applications, customized to fit the size and type of any client’s company. One such company is Unyson, which manages returned/damaged products for clients. They conduct the reverse logistics process by entering the items into a custom built Web-based communication and transportation network, which allows them access to track shipments in transit in an organized fashion, and ensure that they return to a return center for reconstitution or disposal. Companies that benefit from such services include Bed, Bath & Beyond- which, thanks to reverse logistics processing, can provide their customers a no questions asked return policy, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.

Gartner Names Oracle a Leader in Supply Chain Planning

In Gartner, Inc’s., “Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning (SCP) for Process Automation, 2010”, it was reported that Oracle is seen as the new market leader. The annual reports issued by Gartner position vendors in a particular quadrant based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute that vision.

Oracle Applications caters to over 65,000 global customers. These customers depend on Oracle’s integrated enterprise applications to achieve high performance. A secure path is provided for customers to benefit from the most up-to-date technological advances that help improve the customer software experience, as well as business performance. Oracle is committed to its customers through continuous investments and innovations in application offerings.

Oracle’s vice president shared in a statement that the company is committed to delivering industry leading Value Chain Planning solutions for all ERP users. They also believe their position in Gartner’s report is further recognition that their sustained and focused investment strategy is very crucial in delivering the results their customers require.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a representation of marketplace during a specific period of time. It illustrates Gartner’s analysis of how each vendor measure against certain criteria for their marketplace. The Magic Quadrant is aimed toward being solely a research tool and is not intended to be a guide to action.

Gartner’s representatives shared in a statement that the leaders they outline all articulate a strong vision for the ongoing support of process automation requirement and continue to display how they would support a user with the need to select pieces of process innovation as they become more prevalent over time.

AkzoNobel Powder Coatings Selects Quintiq Scheduler for Supply Chain Management

AkzoNobel, a powder coatings manufacturer, has selected the Quintiq Scheduler to support production planning and supply chain management across AkzoNobel Powder Coatings facilities throughout Europe.

AkzoNobel expects the Quintiq solution to help in increasing manufacturing productivity and improving delivery performance. At the same time, this supply chain management solution should also reduce inventory levels throughout the supply chain in AkzoNobel’s complex production environment.

AkzoNobel was facing significant challenges in complexity and flexibility, and looked to Quintiq to help the company to realize the production potential in its supply chain. With the Quintiq Scheduler, AkzoNobel gained access with a complete overview of the supply chain to shorten lead times and reduce inventory.

The Quintiq solution was selected by AkzoNobel due to its proven ability to handle highly complex planning typical to the process and batch manufacturing environment employed throughout AkzoNobel facilities.

Frank van Ooijen, Global Operations Director BU Powder Coatings at AkzoNobel, highlighted that the company really liked the Quintiq supply chain solution and was impressed with the knowledge base of those charged with demonstrating the production planning solution.

Francois Eijgelshoven, Business Director at Quintiq, noted that the complex production processes inherent in the AkzoNobel environment required a sophisticated planning solution to ensure the company could reap the most from manufacturing capabilities.

With the Quintiq Scheduler in place, AkzoNobel can address tactical planning needs and enable the company to optimize interactions between production capacities, raw materials and customer orders. The company can also manage day-to-day planning challenges as it effectively manages the complete supply chain.

CDC Software Partners with OnAsset Intelligence to Bring Supply Chain Intelligence to the Cloud

CDC Software Corporation and OnAsset Intelligence Inc. have formed an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnership. Under this partnership OnAsset will exercise CDC Supply Chain technology to create greater intelligence and bring together wireless monitoring and sensor data with data from enterprise systems.

Since CDC Software Corporation is a provider of on-premise and cloud developments, the supply chain fits well with OnAsset Intelligence’s machine-to-machine wireless asset tracking, sensing and control solutions.

The goal of the partnership is to allow customers who have an accelerating new business to be able to leverage data from wireless devices and other enterprise systems, such as SENTRY. It will also allow a managed service for real-time visibility of high-value freight during all types of transportation, such as, land, water and air travel. Companies will also be able to put their view of the supply chain into effect, by influencing business intelligence information from enterprise systems.

As technology booms, more large companies and enterprises are using it to decrease risky operations and secure the management as global security concerns increase. Companies need to provide quality assurance of conditions during the process of freight and package traveling.

The partnership between these the two companies will ensure real-time monitoring and will allow for the tracking of pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics and computing equipment, consumer packed goods and manufacturing parts like high value equipment.

According to Bruce Cameron, president of CDC Software, real-time asset management is the natural extension to running a smooth supply chain. The combination of CDC’s technology with OnAsset’s products will provide customers with a compelling solution on the cloud that can mitigate the risks that regularly occur during distribution between the warehouse and the final product destination.

Supply Chain Operations Reference Model 10.0 Now Available from Supply Chain Council

The Supply Chain Operations Reference model 10.0 has been released by the Supply Chain Council. This release marks a first for three different elements within the framework for global supply chain management:

1. The introduction of people skill requirements designed to help organizations to build supply chain competency and career paths;

2. Supply Chain Council members can access and use an HTML online format of this model to drive flexible searching and modeling;

3. Supply chain managers working for organizations not yet members of the Supply Chain Council will have the ability to purchase copies of the print edition of the latest model.

According to the Supply Chain Council, these new additions to the model will improve supply chain analysis, while also providing the necessary benchmarking, planning and execution. With this framework in place, supply chain partners will be better suited to communicate. As reference model users increase, everyone throughout the supply chain will enjoy greater efficiency and productivity.

The addition of people skills to the Supply Chain Operations Reference model is expected to help leaders in supply chain and human resource areas to find and develop those individuals who possess the requisite technical expertise and experience to excel in the supply chain space. This will allow supply chain leaders to effectively align the skills of their people with their overall strategic objectives.

The extended access of the reference model for non-Supply Chain Council members will help to improve supply chain management across the board. While membership is certainly desired to ensure the organization has access to the tools and resources necessary to drive excellence, this access provides a great first-step to encourage others to embrace the benefits of the Supply Chain Council.