The pandemic drove retailers to take customer experience to the next level with seamless online shopping, AI-powered personalization, fast customer service, and impactful marketing campaigns. But many of these innovations will fall short of delivering a successful customer experience if retailers don’t ensure that their sales forecasts are in sync with the supply chain. Since an efficient supply chain is responsible for bringing the end product to the customer, it’s important not to forget about this key piece of the customer experience that happens behind the scenes.
An accurate sales forecast is dependent on a complex and tight-knit web of purchasing, manufacturing, shipping, inventory tracking, and order management. Advertising and marketing efforts also play a heavy hand in assessing what customer demand will look like. In addition, social and economic factors such as the pandemic have shown retailers that the supply chain can be very vulnerable to disruption. Now more than ever, retailers are looking towards modern cloud-based ERP solutions to integrate and automate supply chain management so that sales forecasts can be informed with a clearer picture of resources, costs, and delivery times.
It’s common for different functions of the supply chain process to operate separately, spread across various business units, each with different systems and formats for reporting. However, a report by McKinsey says that “a degree of centralization has become an accepted practice in supply-chain organization design.” Retailers are now seeking to drive business strategy by integrating these functions and improving project management of their supply chains. Although separate functions may be accustomed to operating independently, integration doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavor. For example, many business units in the supply chain are already using Microsoft 365 for internal operations. Retailers can look to cloud-based ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 to readily integrate process design, compliance, and data and analytics across various channels while remaining configurable to address the customized processes of each business unit.
With improved project management, retailers can look to track resources in real-time and create automation tools that interplay with workflow and metrics within the entire supply chain. Applications like Velosio’s Advanced Project Accounting can be built within the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central suite to help retailers better calculate sales forecasts that are based on an engaged understanding of resource utilization in the supply chain. Bridging this gap will help companies ensure that the supply chain meets customer demands, and that other investments in improving customer experience are not impeded by shortcomings in product quality, delivery time, or supply.
Investing in technology that drives smart sales forecasts and automates supply chain processes will tighten the link between marketing and operations, shine a light on hidden costs through the supply chain pipeline, and create less guess work for resources and budgets. This will enable supply chain management companies to maximize their investments in delivering quality customer experiences.