IBM: five ways supply chains can prepare for Christmas
Before the holiday ru...
Before the holiday rush begins, supply chain heroes spend months testing and preparing for significant increases in sales volume and unknowns related to key holidays and events. Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at IBM's five ways to prep supply chains for Christmas.
Align business and IT
Supply chain heroes engage with key stakeholders throughout the year to review issues and concerns from the previous peak period to ensure they are addressed and have an action plan. They start asking questions early to determine if changes are planned, such as new sales channels, partners or functionalities.
Lay the groundwork
Supply chain heroes address security updates, patches and software versions efficiently throughout the year. This allows spare time to focus on critical holiday readiness tasks as peak periods approach.
Test the limits
Performance testing is primed around two things: starting early and putting their OMS through their paces. Supply chain heroes start testing in September so there is lots of time to resolve any issues and develop a stable environment prior to the holiday rush.
Avoid unforeseen risks
It isn’t just about performing flawlessly during peak periods. Supply chain heroes also think about and test for failure scenarios and the ability to respond gracefully and recover quickly.
Remain alert during peak periods
Supply chain heroes prepare for months for key holidays. However, it’s important to keep in mind that glitches do happen. This has meant that their monitoring, alerting and notification processes and tools must be up to the challenge. Some of the best practices include:
Regular standups to quickly identify and address any new issues.
Proactive monitoring to detect early signs of trouble.
Backlog mitigation with teams designated to prioritise and handle cases before they have an impact.
Mobilisation 24x7 with cross-functional teams equipped for rapid engagement.
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Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.