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Creating an agile and sustainable supply chain

In a fast-paced, ever-changing consumer world, innovation, agility and sustainability are key to strengthening supply chains, writes Mark Lancaster, supply chain operations manager at Bergen Logistics’ Newcastle site.

The rising cost of living, higher inflation and energy price hikes are contributing to businesses seeking new ways to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Third-party logistics are helping reduce businesses overheads and supplier bases by keeping as much of the order process under one roof as possible.

Technological advances are now re-engineering manufacturing, enabling flexible value chains, and creating much more reliable, agile and sustainable businesses.

Due to rising customer demands and expectations becoming clearer, B2C companies are under pressure to provide a proactive service that is a personalised and connected experience.

This is not something a medium-sized business can solely offer anymore.

Outsourcing, for many, is the only viable option for businesses looking to reduce costs, scale processes and expand operations.


Collaboration is key to success

True collaboration is the new competitive advantage.

By outsourcing certain elements of their operations, brands can leverage the expertise of their partners while focusing on their core competencies.

Whether that is print and packaging, fulfilment, storage, picking and packing or inventory management, you can pretty much guarantee outsourcing all, or any, of these activities will improve efficiency and save money.

This symbiotic relationship allows for the creation of tangible value.

It’s all about building an ecosystem where each entity contributes to the overall success, which is something right at the core of Bergen Logistics, and something we really excel at.


The role of intelligent tech in raising the bar

Intelligent technology – which is the application of scientific knowledge to perform decision-making functions that formerly required human intervention – is the backbone of forward-thinking business operations.

It enables automation, streamlines processes and provides valuable insights.

But its importance goes beyond just efficiency.

Intelligent technology is a catalyst for innovation. It creates new possibilities, helping businesses stay competitive.

At Bergen, we use a bespoke warehouse management system called CloudX Systems, which is completely in-house and very flexible to clients’ needs.

It allows maximum control, especially useful for brands with products in multiple regions or locations.

Because intelligent tech brings so much potential for competitive advantage, we are constantly researching and developing ways of adopting it and working with partners that have it, to service our clients.

For example, we partner with intelligent data specialist Penny Black, which allows us to offer a memorable unboxing experience.

We work with Penny Black to send and track personalised marketing inserts, which are added to customers’ orders.

This innovation helps drive repeat purchases through a channel many of our clients’ competitors aren’t using.

We are always looking for ways to apply continuous improvement and streamline processes.

We use sustainable energy through on-site solar panels and invest significantly in our people and technology, to enable faster delivery times and lower costs for customers.

We are all about going the extra mile to exceed customer expectations and be right first time.

We want our clients to grow, and we have the expertise and know-how to achieve it.


Agile, sustainable supply chains are the only option

Because consumers are relatively fickle and economic conditions can change very quickly, having an agile and responsive supply chain is paramount for any business that wants to thrive and survive.

Firms need a system that responds quickly to market changes or customer demand.

The changes in demand can be caused by all manner of factors, such as peak shopping seasons, celebrity-endorsed lifestyles and trends that go viral, or major life events like a pandemic or war.

Rigid processes and structures of traditional supply chains mean almost certain death for a B2C business.

Flexibility, adaptability and speed in supply chains are characterised by short lead times, low inventory levels and frequent communication between suppliers, partners, manufacturers and distributors.

The future is seeing more of us use sustainability as a strategy to mitigate disruption to supply chains.

Research shows sustainability can help us optimise and reduce costs.

For most organisations, energy costs are high and sustainability initiatives – like our push at Bergen to generate our own energy on site – helps reduce costs in response to disruptions, in turn creating increased resilience and agility.


In conclusion

The global supply chain has been under the microscope in recent years because of growing concern around climate change, and corporate and social responsibility.

Supply chain sustainability is mainly driven by consumer demand, investor pressure, resource availability and legislation.

As environmentally-conscious consumers continue to grow in number, and corporate investors increasingly want to support businesses that take ESG seriously, it’s the organisations that go beyond the tick-box exercise that will prosper.

For example, sustainability is not just about reducing carbon emissions, it’s about unifying and analysing data across the complete supply chain of an organisation to gain the overall visibility an organisation needs to improve sustainability reporting and track the insights needed to make smart decisions for long-term business transformation.

It’s likely a more holistic approach to sustainability and defining impact – beyond reaching net-zero carbon – is needed.

This could include focusing more on environmental factors such as waste production and recycling, water use, land use, biodiversity, pollution, and social considerations such as looking after your people well, paying them a fair living wage and the community impact of your business.

May 23, 2024

  • Business & Economy
  • Technology

Created by North East Times