3 Key Ways Collaboration with Customer-Facing Teams Strengthens the Supply Chain

Supply chain management has traditionally focused on two key components: sourcing and distribution. However, our latest report Aligning the Supply Chain in the Age of the Delivery Economy found that 73% of supply chain professionals say they’re experiencing pressure to improve and expand delivery capabilities as a result of the Delivery Economy – the pervasive sentiment in which customers expect low-cost, fast and highly transparent delivery of goods.

To help alleviate this pressure, customer experience teams and marketing departments can provide essential demand information and build relationships that help improve the efficiency of supply chain operations. In fact, 79% of supply chain professionals believe collaboration with the marketing department is vital to meeting the demands of the Delivery Economy.

So what are the key ways collaboration with commercial teams and marketers can help strengthen the supply chain?

1. Knowledge of Data and Trends for Relationship Building

Relationship building with partners such as suppliers, intermediaries, and service providers is vital for well-oiled supply chain operations. Marketing, in particular, can provide information on products and availability, prices, order tracking, incentives, potential marketing campaigns, and sales information — helping to improve supply chain planning.

This data is helpful, especially as faster and more transparent delivery continues to be of greater importance for consumers and businesses. More than half (55%) of supply chain professionals say they’re facing the expectation to process and deliver goods faster, and 44% say this is the most challenging expectation to meet. Working with other teams and gaining product insight can help supply chain pros drive stronger relationships with their customers.

2. Brand Differentiation by Exceeding Customer Expectations

A key way collaboration with customer experience teams and marketers can strengthen supply chains is through brand differentiation. By communicating with potential customers, customer-facing teams learn what’s important. When this insight is shared with the supply chain, the organization can not only meet but exceed these expectations.

For example, 70% of customers stated they want the ability to track shipments in real-time — meaning minute-by-minute, mile-by-mile. A majority of marketers (82%) thought they were providing this, but our latest report uncovered that nearly three-quarters (73%) of supply chain professionals don’t have the capabilities to provide real-time tracking. Communication between these departments ensures this key customer expectation isn’t swept around the rug.

3. Moving Toward Shared Goals

Operating on the same page isn’t always easy, even between teams working toward the same goals. While 82% of supply chain managers say they’re feeling pressure to improve and expand their capabilities, just over half (57%) of executives say they’re dealing with that same pressure. Furthermore, 78% of supply chain executives say their team works with marketing on a continual basis, but only 55% of managers agree.

By bridging these disconnects, all stakeholders involved — from executives to managers and from the supply chain to customer-facing teams — the organization can work toward their shared goals to make the business successful. In order for things to run smoothly, supply chain professionals must not only be able to understand customer needs but also the needs of one another to continue to grow.

While these tactics aren’t a cure-all, improving communications, support, and collaboration can help ease pressure on the supply chain and make for stronger, more integrated teams. As writer Ian Linton described for Bizfluent, partnering with marketers and commercial teams “helps increase supply chain efficiency and create a single extended enterprise with a strong competitive edge.”

Learn more about how supply chains can they can take on the Delivery Economy.