How else is Big Data and AI transforming supply chain? Take an inside look with top execs from Microsoft, Walmart, Shopify and other big players at the 2018 North American E-Tail Operations Summit.

Big Data and Robotics for Supply Chain feat. Microsoft’s David Warrick, GM, Supply Chain

“I no longer think of it as a supply chain but a supply web” – David Warrick

Microsoft outsources their supply chain to 7 disparate transportation management systems which ships 120,000 parcels each day. Some were the best in class but it was hard to get a global view on all of them. As their supply chain grew, Warrick noticed they became somewhat fractured and decentralized. Here are some ways they’ve managed these issues

  • Partnering with CH Robinson to build end-to-end visibility: 
    Microsoft’s built an engine that aggregates the data of air, ocean and road traffic at any time, irrespective of mode or location. Using machine learning, the system can look into individual loads to optimize routes and predict the ETA of a late product.

“Our supply chain data is happening in real time. We understand what’s happening today in order to predict what’s happening tomorrow.”  -David Warrick

  • Goodbye e-mails, hello quicker response-time:
    Customers love to get in touch, and they can get what they need faster when query management is automated.  Microsoft Cognitive Services to pulls information from customer emails, including customer address, name, and dates to auto populate a query sheet. That query is then connected with relevant information and auto populates an e-mail to be sent back to the customer.

“We are 95% accurate in the e-mails we respond back to our customers” – David Warrick

However, automating emails only apply for common questions and more complex request still require a human touch. Read more about the uses and pitfalls of AI from our second bluEPrint.

How Companies are Leveraging Supply Chain Entry points

  • Efficient grocery delivery feat. Walmart’s Roberto Villalobos, Director, Digital Operations
    Walmart delivers 90% of their orders, 9000 a day within 3 hours to their customers. Villalobos is in charge of the grocery division and he describes every Walmart store as a warehouse for online delivery. In some cases, they are delivering groceries within an hour, and the longest case is 3 hours.
  • Managing logistics feat. Shopify’s Maia Benson, Global Head of Shipping Fulfillment
    Shopify is an omnichannel platform that manages shipping and fulfillment logistics for +600 000 merchants, from Kendall’s cosmetics brand to local independent brands. Shoppers are doing their research and ease of returns and reliable delivery speed is on their radar. For more ways companies are optimizing their e-commerce, check out the last paragraph in our first bluEPrint.
  • Taking advantage of deadstock feat. StockX’s Joe Boehm, SVP Operations
    StockX is a startup that takes advantage of deadstock in supply chain, picking up nearly 10 000 customers per day. StockX provides a marketplace platform for an ask and a buy, with full transparency on prices. A consumer requests a product at a price, and someone in the world provides it. Their four areas are never worn deadstock sneakers and streetwear, as well as used luxury watches and women’s handbag. They offer full buyer and seller anonymity, as well as quality protection from fraud.

Looking into outsource parts of your supply chain?
From tracking to trucking to extending the shelf life of fresh produce, check out the latest startups disrupting the supply chain and logistics industry here.

Lessons Learned from how the U.S. Government Shutdown Affected Supply Chain

The U.S. government was in the longest shutdown of history over a 5.7 billion wall, and around 380 000 employees were sent home. Farmers were unable to get loans processed, companies couldn’t verify a worker’s immigration status and National Park maintenance was left to the wolves. How have supply chains been affected by the shutdown?

  • Deliveries delayed and airport security risks:
    The Department of Homeland Security was unfunded, which meant customs clearance of cross border freight took much longer. Logistics planning was also difficult with the lack of real-time information. With the Department of Transportation is calling in sick, airport security was at risk which was ironic because there were greater amounts of illegal entries in airports than the U.S. Mexico border.
  • Farmers in need of resources on hold:
    The department of agriculture provides disaster relief programs, crop insurance, loans for seeds and other critical resources, which are put on pause. That meant banks were unable to process any insurance papers that farmers need.
  • Economic data for business planning is withheld:
    The Department of Finance was not financed, which meant valuable home sales data, revised figures on U.S. building permits and more weren’t available. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security couldn’t handle cybersecurity risks as quickly which raised concerns for potential attacks against government and private sector companies.

Find out more about  impacts of the shutdown on  supply chain here:
Impact of Partial Government Shutdown on the U.S. Supply Chain – Datexcorp

What do you think about these topics? If you have ideas on what you’d like to see or a case study you’d like to share, let us know!