Optimising the supply chain

Issue 6 2021 Transport (Industry), Integrated Solutions, Logistics (Industry)

VSC Solutions has joined forces with Frontline Market Research to augment its strategic supply chain optimisation services with route-to-market and territory expansion capabilities.

“Covid-19’s disruption of global markets requires that companies review their supply chain strategy and its effect on their route-to-market and expansion objectives,” explains Grant Marshbank, CEO at VSC.

Due to South Africa’s skills gap, companies will be hard-pressed to assemble the required talents for this initiative. “VSC’s partnership with Frontline assures them access to a full complement of scarce expertise for a successful transition,” says Marshbank.

Supply chain optimisation

Covid’s impact has dramatically changed buying behaviours to the point that existing supply chain strategies are no longer effective. This demands urgent and sweeping review and overhaul of current models to meet new market requirements.

“Key trends include consumer attraction to high-value offerings, digital engagements and a major increase in remote working and e-commerce,” says Lukas Potgieter, COO at VSC. Global digitalisation has leapfrogged by five to 10 years across the board.

Vendors should determine the impact of digitalisation on their brick-and-mortar supply chain through extensive route-to-market analysis. This allows them to reconfigure and optimise it for new markets, segments and channels of operation.

They must then develop a comprehensive supply chain strategy that: realigns their sales force, sales objectives and sales performance metrics; implements distribution and other transport services tactics that cooperate seamlessly with sales processes; evaluates how current supply chain resources are affected; and creates a clear roadmap to the new model, logically and cost-effectively. It must also facilitate ongoing calibration and continuous improvement.

Opportunistic expansion

Following supply chain optimisation, companies must explore new markets for growth. A 2019 study listed two African countries in the top five fastest growing economies and five in the top 10. Economic growth is strongly linked to population growth. Africa has the fastest growing population in the world, at nearly double the rate of the next fastest growing continent. These pre-Covid statistics remain relevant to vendors seeking opportunities in a dormant global economy.

“It is imperative to perform in-depth research and market analysis up front to develop a robust route-to-market strategy and an effective roadmap,” says Steve Johnson, Growth & Innovations director at Frontline’s Strategic Projects division.

A good route-to-market strategy unlocks product and brand growth potential by establishing optimal market reach in terms of distribution and supply chain, executing a coherent channel strategy, achieving competitive point-of-buying execution and maintaining profitable customer management.

An effective route-to-market roadmap therefore demands integrated strategy formulation and cross-functional teamwork in execution. Marketing, sales, key accounts, logistics, supply chain and distribution must collaborate closely to achieve the business objective.

Most importantly, once established, organisations must commit to ongoing supply chain optimisation, as with their existing networks.

To improve their position during Covid, suppliers must remodel and optimise their supply chain strategy and expand opportunistically into untapped markets. However, the expertise needed is in short supply in Africa.

“Our partnership with Frontline provides these essential competencies, giving suppliers the intelligence and resource to win,” says Marshbank.

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