With customer demands and eCommerce sales continuing to grow at lightning speed day after day, the supply chain is taking on a different—and highly important—role in shaping the customer experience. A late delivery or laborious return process can cause enough dissatisfaction to drive a customer to the competition. In addition to fast shipping and low prices, retail giants like Amazon and Walmart place a heavy emphasis on the customer experience, a China-born concept that is now going global. Widely known as ‘New Retail,’ Alibaba defines its holistic approach as “the complete integration of online, offline, logistics, and technology for a single value chain.” According to Frost & Sullivan, by 2020, customer experience will exceed price and product as the key brand differentiator, further fueling the urgency for supply chain leaders to adapt to this burgeoning trend.read more
There’s a popular narrative the media likes to spin that we are in the midst of a retail apocalypse. It’s a narrative that’s easy to believe. Retailers continue to close shops and even file for bankruptcy at alarming rates. Behemoth brands that were household names mere decades ago now cease to exist. It certainly looks like Amazon and the eCommerce revolution have done more than draw blood; it appears as though they have struck a fatal blow.read more
The supply chain industry is going through its net threshold of evolution where appetite and market demands are driving the selection of approaches that will set the tone for tomorrow’s expectations.read more
We are excited to share with you the latest video from Jim Tompkins, CEO of Tompkins International, supply chain and new retail strategy expert. Anti-Brittle: Succeeding and Flourishing in these Uncertain and Volatile Times focuses on the level of uncertainty and volatility organizations are facing today as a result of the digital era, disruption cycle, commerce, new retail, and technology innovations such as data science and robotics, to name a few. Tompkins’ continues to shape and grow the supply chain industry through innovative ideas, insight and reinvention.read more
During a recent executive Q&A session, Jim Tompkins was asked a lot of questions regarding delivery strategies. Many were interested in the reality of one-day delivery. Amazon is disrupting themselves with one-day delivery. One-day delivery is important in some cases but not all. Amazon already has one-day delivery in most major markets. Tompkins does not believe 3rd tier markets will receive one-day delivery for some time, nor will they expect it. Rather, the next stop on time of delivery will be same-day delivery where density will allow, such as major markets.read more
In Canada customer demands for more rapid and cost-effective eCommerce delivery are increasing daily. Every week I speak with online sellers who, since the dawn of eCommerce, have successfully serviced Canada from one fulfillment operation. Most have fixed national fulfillment operations positioned in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver and are currently rethinking this. However, the days are now numbered for one eCommerce fulfillment operation being a viable customer delivery experience solution for Canada.read more
A group of supply chain executives met over breakfast at this year’s Supply Chain Leadership Forum to share their views, experiences and current challenges. As it turns out, one topic was viewed so serious that it dominated the discussion. The question was, “How are you attracting and retaining top talent amidst the current labor shortage?”read more
Maybe it is a by-product of my chosen career, I have always been particularly intrigued with what the future holds for consumer experiences, particularly as it relates to health products. In the post-scarcity, retail-space-at-a-premium economy that we seem to be hurtling towards, it is increasingly unlikely that buying decisions will be made amid cavernous, row-upon-row depots, jam-packed with products one on top of each other. No one debates this. Rather, the debate is what will come next.read more
Grocery has been a laggard for Direct to Consumer (D2C) but that is rapidly changing and is now considered among the fastest growth category for digital adoption. Indeed, food and beverage forecasts for online sales are expected to increase 700 percent in seven years resulting in 20 percent of the $800B U.S. grocery market.read more
The online portion of the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry has been on a rapid and steady rise for the past five years. Online revenue increased five times since 2013 and three times since 2016. These statistics indicate all is well in CPG sales online. The reality is online sales compared to total sales are still below 5 percent, which is far from the average and levels of other industries. Why is CPG lagging other industries?read more
Negative publicity and speculation that robots will eventually replace humans in the warehouse has circulated quite a bit in the last few years. While it’s true that robots are making their way into more and more operations, the truth is there are not enough skilled workers to fill the number of available jobs. read more
Warehouse robotics are growing at a rate that exceeds manufacturing robotics. As key robotic skills improve and end users are educated in the best applications of robotics, robot adoption for warehousing tasks beyond transportation will become the drivers of growth in warehouse robotics.read more
Strong strategic alignment among the people, processes, and technology components of a firm’s supply chain and across an organization have a huge impact on the success of the supply chain and the organization. This has always been true, but in today’s complex, disruptive, competitive business environment, it is more difficult to establish and maintain this strategic alignment than ever before.read more
Linking, sharing, and synchronizing data from diverse technology sources, also known as systems integration, is a critical aspect of supply chain management and is almost always ‘the long pole in the tent’. In a world of rapidly changing technology integrating business systems, trading partners, service providers, applications, devices, and processes can be a highly technical undertaking, making even seasoned managers and executives feel powerless. The resolution is simple, elevate systems integration to a business discussion.read more
The world has never experienced a single marketplace where shoppers from anywhere in the world can buy from any vendor in the world, until today. This single characteristic has fundamentally changed the complexion of how retail operates. Early vendors knew their customers and provided products desired by their communities. The efficiency of the mall changed the dynamic by forcing vendors to merge into a destination where goods could be efficiently delivered.read more
The escalating trade war has significant transportation strategy and operations implications. Tariffs are a tax on goods imported or exported. The expense is tied to the transportation budget as part of the landed cost for a product or shipment. This is an added complexity for transportation managers as they optimize mode, load size, and transit time, as well as cost.read more
It’s never too early to nurture young talent, so we were thrilled when Jill Hanstein, Robotics Instructor at Teague Middle School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., reached out to us about sponsoring their Robotics Teams in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge this season.read more
It has been a very busy time for everyone trying to keep up with the latest news from Amazon. From the closure of their recently opened pop-up stores to the deluge of changes to their Vendor Central program and subsequent lifting of their restrictive seller pricing policies, the eCommerce giant has been quite unpredictable lately.
Most notably, on March 4, Amazon did something huge and completely unexpected. If you did not hear about it, do not worry, you were not supposed to ...read more
Planning and execution have been more blurred in recent times, as technology is now providing users access to near real-time visibility and data, enabling them to adjust plans to meet reality. One of the most important execution issues is the management of inventories, especially in the new world of demand-driven operations. In traditional execution, inventories are pushed out to Distribution Centers/Fulfillment Centers (DCs/FCs) and business customers with expectations that those customers would need them at some point in time. Thus, deploying the inventory push to the network of DCs/FCs for customers has been the business objective. As business customers have become more sophisticated, and consumers have demanded more personalization and online buying, demand-driven operations have required more ‘pull’ inventory, which means decentralizing only which will be sold in the short term (think ‘sell one, replace one’). Therefore, distributed inventories based on pull for order fulfillment, or inventory flow, must complement the pull inventories at DCs/FCs for larger business customers. This new operating strategy has changed the business objective for the execution of product distribution, and in turn, created many challenges within the supply chain.read more
I am not an economist, but I think it is important to stay informed as the economy has a huge impact on supply chains.read more
Let me begin by saying “steady state” is an obsolete phrase. Corporate supply chains must be able to constantly adapt and evolve in order to survive and thrive in today’s fast-paced, dynamic environment. The frequency and impact of disruptions have grown exponentially over the last several decades, and are forcing companies into a state of continuous evolution.read more
The greatest weakness of supply chain planning has been the overall topic of network design. The current state of the art network design, models a variety of networks in an attempt to define the network of facilities that allows for the satisfaction of customer service requirements at a minimal cost for transportation, inventory, investment, and operating costs.read more
Tompkins Robotics’ t-Sort system has been selected by Modern Materials Handling, Material Handling Product News and Material Handling 24/7 as a winner of their fourth-annual Readers’ Choice Product of the Year Awards. t-Sort was the winning product in the category of conveyors and sortation. Tompkins Robotics is a business unit of Tompkins International.read more
As retailers and brands develop their unichannel solutions, there is a continuing focus on how to improve last mile delivery costs and the customer experience. Last mile delivery consumes a significant portion of the total delivered cost of a product. Retailers are experimenting with lockers, consumer pick-up, and optional delivery solutions aimed at reducing these costs. The real solution to reducing the cost of the last mile is distributed logistics and the distributed inventory flow forecasting that enables supply chains to work best.read more
MonarchFx, a business unit of Tompkins International, has just released its newest video, Initial Results with MonarchFx. This is the second video of the series, Get to know MonarchFx, the first video of the series discusses MonarchFx’s benefits for retailers, brands, and consumers. View the second creative, clever, animated video that explains the sales performance benefits when using the MonarchFx distributed logistics ecosystem.read more
My friend Brittain Ladd wrote an article for Forbes that posted on December 20, 2018, Was Acquiring Whole Foods Amazon’s ‘Bridge Too Far’? Well done Brittain, I have received several questions as a result of your article. The best questions were, “do you think Amazon is happy with their acquisition of Whole Foods and do you think Amazon will invest in growing the Whole Foods ecosystem?” These are great question, but one that goes deeper than the acquisition of Whole Foods.read more
We are excited to announce that MonarchFx, a business unit of Tompkins International, has partnered with Vanguard Software. Vanguard Software is an internationally recognized leader of supply chain planning software solutions.read more
Going into the new year, we expect to see many reports discussing problems faced during the 2018 holidays. We will also see many success stories from companies that learned from their past holidays and have joined the robot revolution.read more
Tompkins International has been recognized as a top leader in the consulting industry by ALM Intelligence Consulting division, previously known as Kennedy Consulting. Tompkins International was selected due to the ability to create impact for clients and overall logistics consulting capabilities.read more
Managing inventories in the digital age is even more challenging than with traditional supply chains. Inventory policies and processes established for volume sales and bulk shipments for a multi-tier network are ineffective when positioning stocks for fulfilling online orders for items, “eaches”. Demand planning and inventory planning systems must be modified to accommodate intermittent, varied demand, and the increasing uncertainties that characterize eCommerce.read more
MonarchFx’s distributed network of fulfilment centers (FC) can boost profits by shifting eCommerce order fulfillment to FCs and away from stores.read more
I read an interesting quote recently, “The truth is you cannot reinvent a retailer on the cheap,” Neil Saunders, GlobalData Retail. It led me to think more about what is really required by all types of retailers to compete in the changing world of The New Retail, which started in China and is now impacting all retail in North America.read more
For brands to succeed in The New Retail world they must seize control of their own destiny. “The New Retail is the complete integration of online, offline, logistics, and technology into a single value chain that places customer centricity and convenience above all else,” stated Michael Zakkour, VP with Tompkins International.read more
What are the technology breakthroughs MonarchFx is bringing to the table that will improve supply chain excellence?read more
What are the top three reasons why sellers should consider MonarchFx?read more
I have already seen projections, predictions, and political oriented statements about Holiday 2018 for both online and in-store sales for the U.S.read more
How can companies deal with the pace of disruptions occurring today? As the pace of disruption has changed in a major way over the last 60 years, therefore too should the approach we use to deal with this change.read more
NextGen Retail Supply chain, is it inefficient, difficult, and expensive?read more
It seems that not a day goes by without seeing news about Amazon or some trendy new start-up trying to disrupt the consumer shopping experience. More soberly, observing neighborhoods and cities now being dominated by empty storefronts and shopping malls. While we live in a country that invented the modern shopping mall, consumers are increasingly seeking out the latest and greatest in Unichannel shopping experiences instead. It does not stop at retail. Traditional retailers are now getting into the health business. Amazon bought Whole Foods, a grocer that began as a health food store and PillPack, an online pharmacy startup. In the biggest retail healthcare deal yet, CVS is buying Aetna for a proposed $69 billion, bringing together a retail chain with nearly 10,000 stores and a major national health insurer.read more
How has digital disrupted supply chains and do these disruptions also impact the supply chains of traditional retail?
Each for eCommerceread more
Benjamin Patipa, MD., Vice President of Healthcare Strategy for MonarchFx, has just recorded a new video The Healthcare Logistics Solution. Patipa explains why the healthcare product supply business as we know it has changed forever, why sellers must switch to a single unified supply chain, and MonarchFx’s healthcare logistics solution.read more
There is a subliminal fear of Amazon because they have so much scale, what are your thoughts? Amazon is very good, no question. They too have challenges.read more
Sellers of products online, when selecting a fulfillment provider, are asking how MonarchFx compares to contracting directly with a 3PL. This article summarizes the critical success factors that should be considered and how the respective solutions compare.read more
Is MonarchFx is a product firm or a service firm?
Consulting firms and 3PLs are service firms, MonarchFx is not. Service firms begin with a client’s requirements and develop a customized solution. Service firms have a project orientation. The customized solution is a one-off application of process, people, and technology to address a certain set of requirements.read more
What are the biggest drivers disrupting today’s supply chains?
Here are my top five drivers creating disruption:read more
There seems to be a big talent gap in supply chain – how can we solve for it?read more
In this discussion, we review those critical activities in managing inventory. We help you decouple the terms and recognize the magnitude of work needed to effectively manage the inventory you invest in.read more
Which company, if any, can challenge Amazon? My answer may surprise you ...read more
Each year the National Retail Federation (NRF) publishes the shrinkage realized within the all aspects of the retail industry. With shrink consistently hovering around 1.4%, tightening margins require that retailers become more creative to sell enough goods to cover this loss. When you apply this percentage against the industry revenue, what appears to be a manageable number equates to an estimated $46.8B in 2018.read more
The rapid growth and expansion of eCommerce has raised and highlighted important questions for all companies involved in online salesread more
With all the hype around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science these days, it’s easy for sellers to feel lost in the mix.read more
As previously discussed, Augmented Fulfillment (AF) is the addition and integration of a specialized suite of technology, flexible automation and forward micro-fulfillment locations which will effectively 'augment' your current fulfillment network allowing you to improve next day and same day delivery to consumers.read more
Augmented Reality (AR) utilizes technology to provide additional insights and abilities in the real world, with one example being the Google Translate app's ability to take a picture of text in many languages and then immediately translate it for you onscreen. An excellent AR app to help you understand signs or menus in foreign countries, or even that fancy restaurant around the corner.read more
When looking through data science case studies, posts, and articles you will likely notice the majority focus on prediction, not inference. Although this is not necessarily surprising, it is important to not overlook the value of inference. The difference between these is significant so it is critical to understand when you should pursue one versus the other.read more
As Amazon concludes another successful Prime Day and begins to report the impressive results of the expanded 36 hours, we at MonarchFx would like to offer some comments.read more
Having been a contributor to many SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analyses for e-commerce service providers, retailers and even CPG manufacturers, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve warned all who would listen that fulfillment automation (or the lack thereof) will be a significant threat to their online business in the future.
Today I’m going even further to state that this threat has now evolved into what I’m coining as simply ‘The Automated Local Fulfillment Imperative.’read more
For many organizations, peak order fulfillment and returns crunch time is only 150 days away or less.
Remember last year? Why are you sweating? Do you remember the process and equipment improvements you were going to implement to make you, your staff’s and your organization’s lives less stressful. Did they get done?read more
At this year’s Tompkins Supply Chain Leadership Forum (SCLF) two executives from a retailer asked me if they could meet for 15 minutes to address a question their board had asked them. We met at 7PM at the Tuesday evening, Night at the Ballpark, event. We grabbed a corner table. After a few pleasantries the CEO opened his notebook, it was clear our meeting had started.read more
Customer Experience is a complex thing. Many companies now spend countless hours focusing on the online and offline journeys of their customers looking for any possible ways to improve and reduce the ‘friction’ encountered by consumers who do business with them.read more
With the historic rate of brick and mortar retail operation closures, the competitive stress of eCommerce is deeply upon us.
Many have blamed the reduction in customer traffic in brick and mortar stores as a reason for the decline. Rather, is this a reflection of the store experience or a real change in the traffic behaviors of the base consumer? At the same time, businesses that offer high customer service (e.g. Starbuck’s, Chick Fil-A, and Apple) have carved out a competitive stronghold with price not being the driver.read more
Can you continue to provide the delivery windows your customers expect? If so, at what cost?
The challenge of satisfying customers delivery expectations becomes more difficult as the requirements continue to change and evolve.read more
1. We are torn between shipping our eCommerce orders fast and expensive vs. slow and cheap, how should this be addressed?
2. In 2016 we were pushing hard to hit two-day delivery for 50% of the U.S. and three-day delivery for the additional 50%. In 2017 we were pushing to hit next day delivery to 25% of the country and two-day to 75% of the U.S. How far can this go?
3. For retailers with brick and mortar, is using stores as fulfillment centers viable?read more
Whether it is a Ferrari vs. a Fiat or a Jet Engine vs. a Propeller, generally speaking, to move something quickly has a higher cost than to move it slowly. The ability to move fast at a lower cost is a challenge that has pervaded the supply chain industry for years.read more
The growth of the beauty industry is staggering. Beauty, whether green, prestige, or mass is on the rise, as is Amazon. It is not farfetched that beauty may be Amazon’s next big play.read more