Transforming the B2B Supply Chain 2/3 – What’s your competitive advantage?


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In part 2 of this 3-part blog series – ”Transforming B2B Supply Chains”, I will take a look at how global businesses are using technology to gain a unique competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage

Question: Is it even possible to gain, and then maintain, a competitive advantage in B2B supply chains today? … Surely the market is so mature and saturated that there is very little left to differentiate your offering over another’s?

Answer: YES, it is possible! But first it’s important to understand how the industry is changing…

As fortune 500 companies around the world continue to get bigger through acquisitions, mergers and international expansion, their requirements to continually grow revenue and improve efficiency have become more imperative than ever before. Even amidst the downturn, these companies have continued to aggressively pursue supply chain (SC) optimisation in order to maximise the performance-per-head and improve customer service.

Retailers are benefiting from technology. But are suppliers?

Many of the leading global companies have already embraced advanced supply chain processes such as vendor managed inventory and are also starting to benefit from new technologies to improve performance such as electronic product codes, e-invoicing and XML messaging. But for the suppliers that ‘sell-to’ and ‘sell-through’ these large organisations, the result has been anything but beneficial… In fact, these suppliers are now being faced with more customisation and diversity, and they are struggling to comply with the unique support services requested by their largest accounts.

Ultimately, no two customers approach supply chain optimisation in the same way, and consequently, suppliers are forced to support a wide variety of different order, forecasting, fulfillment and logistics processes with an even wider array of technology standards for visibility, collaboration and security.

How to use technology to your advantage

The good news is that there is a better way to give your customers what they want, without taking on more non-value added activities in the order-to-cash supply chain, freeing up your people to do what they are best at… serving your customers!

An increasing number of suppliers are enlisting the help of specialised managed service providers and new cloud-based technology platforms, to wage war against complexity. Typically, they look at several attributes to help them gain a competitive advantage.

The 3 core attributes of a competitive supply chain network

Agility, accuracy and responsiveness have become the core attributes of a competitive supply chain network. A high performing, responsive supply chain that focuses on continuous improvement leads directly to competitive advantage.

Suppliers, who are engaged in developing these core supply chain competencies, consistently outperform their competitors, and provide a solid foundation for customer relationship development, trust and growth – at least in my experience. What enables this competitive advantage is typically the supplier’s ability to focus on their customers’ demand for more personalisation by embracing the most robust and adaptable B2B supply chain solutions possible. However, this requires suppliers to embrace diversity and complexity!

Delighting customers: a dramatic shift

Re-designing your business around your customers’ requirements represents a dramatic shift in the design of supply chains worldwide. Suppliers are now moving away from a ‘’push’’ supply chain, built around the needs of the assembly line, to a new “customer-centric, demand-driven model” that interlinks cross departmental lifecycles, and manages demand proactively, rather than merely reactively responding to it.

Business Drivers of the New Supply Chain


Operational Areas of Focus


Creating global supply chain networks that embrace operational innovation is the way forward. ONLY those suppliers who can utilise technologies to overcome the challenges of customisation will be able to delight customers by servicing their unique needs in a consistent manner.

These leaders will not only enhance customer satisfaction, but also differentiate themselves in the marketplace and continue to grow revenue!

In my last post in this series, we will look at our top 15 Tips to start influencing your supply chain today! Alternately, if you simply cant wait, please feel free to download the whole whitepaper.

Until next time

Very best regards

Coreen Head

Coreen Head
Coreen Head is a Client Development Director at OmPrompt, who believes that great customer experience is the most important Competitive Advantage that companies can maintain today. As such, she dedicates her time to educating brands on ways to embrace personalisation and ultimately create world-class Order to Cash supply chains.


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