AI in Logistics: The Secret Behind a Resilient Business Strategy

Supply chain challenges are accepted by many as being part of the territory. The global pandemic has highlighted the risks that traditional supply chains face, with many companies also feeling the effects of post-Brexit policies on their order fulfilment capabilities.

Some of the world’s biggest businesses have been subject to cyber-attacks, causing major disruptions to their supply chains. And the potential for natural disasters to occur across any continent never goes away. Such challenges have sealed the fate of many businesses.

However, regardless of the challenges the world may conjure up, some companies are simply better equipped to cope than others. This is wholly down to having a proactive approach, as opposed to a reactive one. And in the complex world of supply chains, this is made possible through the use of AI.

So how does building a resilient supply chain work in practice?

 

A proactive approach to business

A proactive approach recognises that the traditional supply chain is the problem, not the external crisis.

The way practical manifestation of this philosophy is a business that's capable of carrier switching on-demand, combined with a decentralised stock distribution and drop-shipping set-up.

With multiple fulfilment options at their disposal, businesses are able to go above-and-beyond the boundaries of rigid, conventional supply systems.

Furthermore, the proactive supply chain philosophy can utilise distributed operations, servers and software as back-up plans, should any event affect a primary provider. And regular stress testing of supply chains can be performed to identify any weak-links in a chain, before they break.

Utilising these functions helps to build a resilient supply chain, capable of operating through any crisis and making the most of opportunities. Let’s look at Walmart for an example.

 

Putting resilient supply chains into practice

As with all the most successful brands, the supermarket giant Walmart abides by an anti-fragility model. The company has the ability to benefit from disruptive events by stepping in to soak up demand that others are unable to meet. This means that, in times of flooding or other extreme weather, Walmart is able to deliver large supplies of bottled water to affected areas. In doing so, they fill the gaps left by less agile retailers, who have run out of stock.

Those faced with supply chain challenges on a daily basis may look at this example and think that such agility must be the preserve of the big players. But in reality, shifting to a more resilient supply chain is simply a change of business strategy.

The 7bridges AI-powered logistics platform enables such agility (by offering capabilities such as dynamic carrier switching, inventory optimisation and AI-powered analysis and decision-making). It does this whilst lowering costs by 30% and delivering a return on investment (ROI) within just four weeks.

 

Adopting strategic resilience

All successful businesses look for new methods to improve their processes and increase their profit margins. Strategic resilience covers everything from ensuring the walls of your physical store don’t fall down, to making sure e-Commerce orders are delivered on time. Building a supply chain resilience strategy is a natural step towards continuous improvement and delivering a better customer experience.

Providing a great customer experience means ensuring that every possible touch-point between business and consumer is first-rate. Given the choice of brands available in the modern era, it’s not enough to simply be competitive on price and product anymore. The only way to compete in such a competitive market is via the customer experience, and order fulfilment forms a valuable part of this.

Those working with conventional supply chains may already have considered the likes of carrier switching and a distributed stock model. Given the logistical complexities of supply chains, many are put off by the thought of adding further layers to their already-detailed procedures.

However, utilising the 7bridges platform actually simplifies your  operations. Connecting to your existing software is achievable in a matter of weeks, and you’ll then have a single interface from which to view, manage, and analyse your processes.

By using automation and artificial intelligence, complex procedures such as carrier switching are made easy. You’ll have instant access to our global network of logistics providers, which enables you to switch carriers (in real time!) if a better deal is available.

The software also enables the likes of distributed stock and drop-shipping, by automating the procedures and bringing them in line with your regular processes. Everything is ready to go, should you ever need to take that option. And by utilising distributed operations and regular stress-testing, your business will be safer from cyber-attacks, no matter where the fault in the chain occurs.

To conclude, business size is no hindrance to having a supply chain resilience strategy. Even conventional methods no longer rely on telephones, paper invoices and physical signatures to push agreements through. Supply chains have been embracing the digital world since its inception, and an AI-powered logistics platform is a logical step towards strategic resilience and staying ahead in an ultra-competitive climate.

Given the consequences of supply chain failures, this agile approach should be a natural part of any modern business strategy.

It isn’t a means of doing away with your employee’s expertise and replacing them with machines. It’s simply a method of enabling those working at all levels of the supply chain to focus on providing the best possible service, no matter what eventualities the wider world may conjure up.

 


 

7bridges’ whole ethos is to enable your business to have a more resilient supply chain and to keep running in any eventuality. To learn more, view our whitepaper here.

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