Q&A: Bamboo Rose CEO on Prime Day
Bamboo Rose is a leading multi-enterprise product and supply chain platform that fosters connectivity in the retail community to help retailers and suppliers bring great products to market faster, more efficiently and at higher margins. The Bamboo Rose B2B platform includes a digital Marketplace, Product Lifecycle Management, Sourcing, PO Management, Global Trade Management, and Financing, all supported by intelligent engines for optimization, costing, and scheduling across the platform.
We spoke to Bamboo Rose CEO Sue Welch about how buyers and suppliers can respond to the stresses and opportunities of events like Prime Day.
Given that Amazon reported revenues of $4.2bn on Prime Day 2018, an increase of 33% year on year, what sort of pressures can the event be expected to put on companies’ supply chains?
Each year, Amazon Prime Day seemingly gets bigger. For instance, this year the sale will be a 48-hour sale with over 1mn products offered and this in turn impacts other companies who want to get in on the action. Some examples of other retailers looking to offer their customers a deal is Wal-Mart, which is offering competitive discounts. Similarly, Target and eBay have announced deals as well. All of these large companies have the capital and the innovation to host these kinds of sales and to not worry about the challenges or the strain it would put on their supply chain. But for those companies who have been watching Prime Day take off, the key is to be prepared months in advance.
As the sourcing process begins at least six months prior to expectant store delivery, retailers must align as closely as possible with suppliers and manufacturers to ensure orders meet regulatory compliance, clear customs, and arrive in stores at just the right time for Prime Day shoppers. This means having supply chain visibility. This requires a level of agility most organizations lack, but actively pursue. By allowing complete transparency through the aid of a multi-enterprise platform, all supply chain partners get a complete, 360ₒ view of each and every transaction made along the way, from design, development, sourcing, purchase order management, sales order management, global trade management, suppliers, inspection companies, customs, freight forwarders and carriers, and banks.
With everyone on the same platform when it comes to supply chain operations, there’s a much better chance of retailers and brand owners getting their products to market at just the right time, especially during a popular shopping day or month. Connecting with the entire community is the way to mitigate the pressure on their supply chain.
How do the challenges of Prime Day differ from the challenges presented by events like Cyber Monday and Singles Day in Asia?
Although Cyber Monday and Black Friday are breaking records in the US, nothing compares to the impact that Singles Day has in Asia. The day of e-commerce deals on November 11, or 11/11, generated more than $4.68bn in sales in its first 10 minutes. Twenty minutes in, sales had surpassed $6.5bn — exceeding total Black Friday online sales, according to Adobe Analytics data.
The challenges to the supply chain remain the same, no matter the holiday. It’s imperative that retailers be prepared for their supply chain to have a deluge in orders and know how to move product quickly through their global supply chain to warehouses and to the correct location. This takes a seamless, transparent visibility into an organization’s operations. It takes all parties knowing where specific items are, how many items are available, where they need to come from, etc.
Would you say that events like Prime Day are changing the way that consumers shop online?
Absolutely. The shopping industry is based on a customer-centric approach and the rise of e-commerce type shopping holidays pushes forward customer’s expectations. While e-commerce has driven consumer’s opportunity to shop at their convenience, increasing sales, it also increases customers’ expectations. This includes pricing and delivery options.
Retailers need to leverage an integrated community, that allows them to plan ahead and prepare for items that might be popular in specific regions and predict when they’ll need them by. This means having full transparency into the product lifecycle. From design, development, sourcing, logistics, supply chain, customs all parts of the back-end need to talk to one another to make this effective. Leveraging a platform that offers real time insights into each step of the product lifecycle, will accelerate time to market. This in turn enables a retailer to keep up with consumer demand.
What can retailers do in order to ensure they capitalize on such events?
The key to great success on ecommerce shopping holidays is to be prepared months in advance and to bring your community online into a seamless platform. We’re seeing companies turn their global supply chains into a differentiator. Giving consumers transparency into their supply chains allows them to provide greater personalisation, better insight into sustainability and to ensure products are on time and to prevent stock outs. They can provide consumers with the real time insight when product levels become low to encourage consumer to buy early. Companies really need to be prepared to capitalize on their supply chains and use them as a differentiator.
What are you planning to buy on Prime day? Or are you just going to check out the deals?
I’ll plan to check out the deals. I love Amazon for everyday items, such as laundry detergent, trash bags and other products that I used daily.
Gartner: Women in supply chain at five-year high
Women now represent a greater percentage of the supply chain workforce than at any other point in at least the past five years, according to a recent Gartner survey.
The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021, conducted by Gartner and Awesome, surveyed 223 supply chain organisations with more than $100m in annual revenue from February through to the end of March 2021.
- Women represent 2% more of supply chain workforce than in 2020
- Women now account for 42% of the workforce
- Number of women in exec-level positions declined by 2%
- Just 15% of top leadership are women (17% in 2020)
- 84% of organisations say COVID-19 did not impact efforts to advance women
It found that women now represent two per cent more of the supply chain workforce than in 2020, accounting for 42%, compared with 39% last year. Dana Stiffler, Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, says the impact of COVID-19 on supply chain was significant, though different to other sectors.
"Contrary to other industries, supply chain’s mission-criticality during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors did not reduce their workforce, but rather continued to hire and even faced talent shortages, especially in the product supply chains," she said. "This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organisations but increasing their representation in organisations. We also recorded a record number of specific commitments and supply chain-led actions and saw existing programs starting to pay off."
Supply chain still lacks women in executive leadership
But the elephant in the boardroom remains. Though the figures present a positive step towards greater diversity and gender equality at all levels, the number of women in executive level positions declined by two per cent in the past year. Women represent just 15% of the upper echelons of supply chain leadership. Gartner did however record a rise in women at all other levels of leadership.
The vast majority (84%) of organisations surveyed said the outbreak had no discernible impact on their ability to retain and advance women. But more than half (54%) admitted that retaining mid-career women was becoming increasingly difficult. A lack of career opportunities was cited as the biggest challenge to this, while other blamed a lack of development opportunities.
Despite these challenges, companies of all sizes are becoming broadly better at gender diversity. Around a third more said they had a targeted initiative focused on attracting women and advancing their careers.
Stiffler said a push towards measurable and formal initiatives is at least pointing in the right direction: “It's encouraging to see that the larger share of this jump was for more formal targets and specific goals on management scorecards. For these respondents, there is greater accountability for results — and we see the correlation with stronger representation and inclusion showing up in pipelines.”