Industry expert claims the new supply chain is 'sexy'
The supply chain was previously the domain of nerdy folk who plan and oversee the movement of goods from order receipt through to production, storage, and distribution. But no more, supply chain management is now officially sexy – yes you heard it here!
Good supply chain managers make the difference between happy customers and irate ones who don’t make return visits. And in today’s demanding times with businesses under tremendous pressure to cut costs, improve service and cash flow there is a shortage of experienced supply chain managers. This is particularly true in global companies with far flung operations and those with an increasing focus on emerging markets.
When people outside the supply chain profession hear the words ‘supply chain’ they start to think about trucks and sheds. They don’t instantly think about the high tech, high-stakes game that involves managing multiple tradeoffs and a rich mix of skills. Supply chain managers need sophisticated technical skills, they need to be consummate diplomats and be experts at everything from business strategy and problem solving. They also need to be able to embrace ambiguity and draw insights out of masses of data. It is the era of the supply chain super person and whilst many of us cannot leap tall problems in a single bound, or use X Ray vision to uncover what is unseen to others, we are all doing some extremely exciting and innovative work.
So let’s start to make supply chain sexy to draw in that much needed talent that will be needed to drive the supply chains of the future.
Dave Alberts is the Director of Supply Chain Consultants Crimson & Co
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.