In the freight transportation, supply chain, and logistics sectors, there may not be a single more important thing to ensure success than strong relationships. To be sure, there is always going to the upmost focus on operational efficiencies, throughput, productivity, and, of course, turning a profit, but again, at the end of the day, is relationships drive all of that and more.
That was made very clear at this week’s SMC3 Connections conference in Palm Beach, Florida by Rick DiMaio, vice president of distribution, fulfillment, and international logistics, for Office Depot.
“Supply chain is a people business,” he told attendees. “In reality, there are hundreds of people in our group, and we manage thousands of employees who touch millions of customers in our supply chains. If we think for one second that we are not in the people business, then we are sadly mistaken. I can read white papers but nothing really transmits information like sitting down with someone one on one.”
Managing and exceeding customer expectations through supply chain efforts was a key theme of a presentation given by Greg Smith, enterprise consultant, for Tech Mahindra at the SMC3 conference.
“With some macroeconomic forces at play that spur the need for ongoing supply chain innovation, it creates a situation where there is a changed expectation coming from customers that are, in turn, going to provide the incentive to continue to innovate, as well as result in new products and services that are going to evolve,” Smith said.
As for what steps are required to innovate, Smith pointed to what he called the “6 Ps,” which include: productivity, personalization, prediction, prevention and prevent, perfection, and possibilities.
Productivity, he explained should be thought of within companies, as it relates to not just people but also reinventing things like processes, locations, packaging or anything relating to business.
“With slower economic growth, meeting the needs of your current customers is critical,” said Smith. “Shifting customer demands also drives shorter supply chains. You are seeing this with Amazon and start-ups leading some of these forms of economic disruption. That said, hang on to your customers, there is always something new to be looking at. The customer experience is everything. Everything starts with the customer experience.”