The 7 Questions Interview Series: Logistics and Supply Chain Data Integration
“The 7 Question Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that “enquiring minds want to know”. There is a twist however to these questions. We provide the person being interviewed with a hypothesis for each question. This helps to frame and set context for their answer.
Logistics and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives:
The objective of this series is to establish direct connections with Logistics and Supply Chain experts across the globe and ask them the same set of 7 questions regarding e-commerce data integration in the supply chain. We want to derive insights from their direct experiences and expertise that will help e-commerce companies, both B2B and B2C at all stages of their evolution. We are also curious to see if their answers are similar or different. These interviews will be featured on this website as a series.
Interview with Peter Brereton, President & CEO, TECSYS Inc
About Peter Brereton
Peter is President & Chief Executive Officer of TECSYS Inc. He was appointed President of TECSYS Inc. in 1995 and CEO in 1998 and was largely responsible for TECSYS IPO on the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges. He repositioned the company into the supply chain execution market in 1998 and has led the company strategies to increase market share in the supply chain management software arena for high volume distributed order fulfillment.
Robin Smith: I hear the terms B2C, B2B and now Omnichannel retailing. How are the changes taking place affecting the supply chain and logistics providers?
Peter Brereton: Omnichannel retailing is really about providing a seamless way for consumers to shop and acquire products from retailers. The concept of a linear controlled supply chain is being transformed. Consumers expect to be able to buy whenever and wherever they want and expect to receive their purchase whenever and wherever they want it. Delivery to store, delivery to home, etc., the impact on logistics is substantial. The local UPS delivery people actually know us personally now! I’m an Amazon Prime customer and get free two day delivery on most Amazon products. Why would I visit a mall? While the advantages to the consumer are significant, the logistical capability to make it happen is enormous.
Robin Smith: When would it be appropriate for a web based retailer to think about the benefits of integration?
Peter Brereton: Integration must play a role in your web-based stickiness with your customers. Do they need the confidence of inventory availability? Do they need to know their order is being or has been shipped? Do they want to know the current status of their order with your carrier? Of course, they do! Remember the old mail order days of “Your order will arrive in 4 to 6 weeks.”? That’s been over for years. No longer is a consumer comfortable with blindly placing an order for products in the hopes that they will receive it. In many cases integration also creates automated push notifications to the consumer of changes in the retail interaction. Web-based retailers need to ensure they provide all of these integration levels of service to become a trusted provider versus the purveyor of the lowest priced goods.
Robin Smith: How important is the Logistics provider’s investment in technology and how does it affect the omnichannel customers ability to scale?
Peter Brereton: It’s critically important. But I’m not talking technology for technology’s sake. It’s about the right technology to enhance the customer experience to drive revenue, but also to drive down the cost of operation. Get that right and you not only scale by demand but also by capital to re-invest. I would also suggest that finding the right technology partner(s) is key. Don’t do it all on your own. Leverage what’s been built before by those that have the experience and the solutions already.
Robin Smith: I hear many web retailers are small businesses. What have you seen as indicators of success and the ability to scale versus those that can’t?
Peter Brereton: You obviously have to have the products that people want and the ability for people to find you. But that’s just the beginning and not the end. Those that have proven to scale have created an intimate trusted experience with their consumers and a channel strategy that can support growth. They have also relentlessly driven the cost out of running a highly responsive and adaptable supply chain.
Robin Smith: As a web retailer’s supply chain gets more complex, as they scale, how do they transition to more complex platforms to handle the growth without killing the business, what do you see as the pitfalls?
Peter Brereton: First, don’t boil the ocean. Trying to do too much too fast can create multiple points of failure for your business and it only takes one point of failure to turn off a consumer forever to your business. Define a phased strategy and execute on it in a controlled rollout measuring success along the way. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Second, get ready for change. Current patterns and experiences won’t likely be the same two years later. Stay current with the trends that are occurring and don’t be tied down to a single minded way of doing business. That said, don’t jump too early either to the “next big thing”. Third, get help from those with experience in having done this before. Hire for it and partner for it.
Robin Smith: How complex can the integration requirements become as a web retailer scales?
Peter Brereton: Integration can become very complicated but it will also be a competitive advantage if performed properly. The key is to define those competitive advantages and let a partner help you set up the technical infrastructure to make it happen. Focus on what makes you great and get the help you need to build the technical platform for your success.
Robin Smith: Any advice on the logistics implications?
Peter Brereton: Be fast. It’s not always about the cheapest product or even the best product. It’s sometimes all about the fastest product. It’s also not always about your speed alone. How fast and nimble are your manufacturers and other supply chain partners? In a dynamic omnichannel marketplace you may find yourself as fast as your slowest partner. So pick your partners carefully with an eye not only on how fast they are today but how fast can they be tomorrow.
Peter’s social outposts: LinkedIn
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