Beefing Up the Customer Experience
As the economy recovers and manufacturers hope for increased demand, it's just as important to remember that supply chain execution impacts the customer's experience. When I went shopping online to replace my 10-year-old Lexus, I found just what I was looking for on the car maker's Web site: a LS430 with ecru interior and cutting-edge GPS technology.
But when I went to my dealer, I was told it would be impossible to get what I wanted.
So I went to Audi. I found a nice car and the features I wanted were available, but it would take a few weeks to get it, and the GPS technology was primitive. So I ended up buying a Lexus on the lot. I had to pay for features I didn't need or want, but I got the GPS technology and I didn't have to wait.
Without a commitment to supply chain execution, companies like Lexus and Audi lose customers: Lexus will lose those seeking fast execution — in other words, availability of styling and features in a car advertised now. Audi will lose customers seeking innovation — that cutting-edge technology worth having at any price — even though it can deliver a car more quickly.
Manufacturers must resolve to slim down their supply chain operations to become agile, one-hour enterprises. Until they do, they will continue to plump up inventory with products that may not have customers, and their profits stand to grow alarmingly thin.
About the Author: Pamela Lopker is founder, chairman and president of QAD Inc., a provider of enterprise software for manufacturers.