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New Research – The Need for Customer-Centric Supply Chains

In two days, GXS and SCM World will be announcing the results of a research study conducted this June by Martin Christopher, Emeritus Professor of Marketing and Logistics at the Cranfield School of Management.  Over 800 supply chain professionals from Asia, Europe and the Americas were surveyed for their views.  The research, which focused on complexity in the supply chain and the need for customer-centric approaches, will be unveiled in a live webinar on Thursday September 30th. Below is the forward to the research report which offers a preview of the findings.

The Top 500 companies in the world continue to get bigger and bigger as they grow through mergers, acquisitions and international expansion.  As their revenues grow larger, their quest for efficiency grows stronger.  Amidst the Great Recession these Top 500 companies have aggressively pursued supply chain optimization in order to maximize their performance.

Many of these large companies have embraced advanced supply chain processes such as vendor managed inventory, cross-docking, late-stage postponement, evaluated receipts settlement and supply chain finance.   They are also capitalizing on new technologies to improve performance such as collaborative demand planning, data synchronization, electronic product codes, e-invoicing and XML messaging.

But for the suppliers who sell to and sell through these large organizations, the effect has been anything but supply chain optimization.  In fact, these suppliers are faced with more customization as they struggle to comply with the unique support services requested from their largest accounts.  No two customers approach supply chain optimization in the same way.

Consequently, suppliers are forced to support a myriad of different order forecasting, fulfillment and logistics processes and a wide variety of technology standards for visibility, collaboration and synchronization.   These manufacturers are in a battle against the growing complexity in their demand chains.

But there is hope.  An increasing number of suppliers are enlisting the help of specialized outsourcing providers and new cloud-based technology platforms to wage war against complexity.  And it is those manufacturing companies, which can master the complexity in their demand chains, that will be the long-term winners in the marketplace.

Those suppliers, which can utilize technologies such as B2B e-commerce to overcome the challenges of customization will be able to delight customers by servicing their unique needs in a consistent manner.  These leaders will not only enhance customer satisfaction, but also differentiate themselves in the marketplace and grow revenues at their largest accounts.

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