SENIOR supply chain professionals heard John Lewis reveal that world class service is unachievable in the omni-channel economy at SCALA’s Annual Logistics Debate.
Speakers from Great Bear, Mondelez International, Shutl and Unilever also debated the topic ‘What is the Key to Delivering World Class Service in the Future?’ in the stunning setting of Coombe Abey, Warwickshire.
The National Distribution Centre Director for John Lewis, Terry Murphy, spoke of the difficulties in delivering consistent excellence across all channels in an ever-changing market.
“We don’t know what the customer will want next year except flexibility and agility,” he said. “Black Friday is just a brilliant example of an extreme event that just adds that extra pressure we’re experiencing with the way the customer proposition is going.
“World class service is something we will never achieve – there are so many variables and there are so many customers. What we have to do is maintain our level of paranoia, our level of dissatisfaction and our level of obsession.”
The audience of around 150 senior industry professionals heard speaker after speaker raise the need for greater collaboration in the logistics sector to cut costs, improve availability and drive environmental efficiency.
Oliver Cofler, Customer Service and Logistics Director for Mondelez International, issued a challenge to the industry. “The logistics sector has to take a lead on collaboration, or it will never happen,” he said.
“We are trying to take that step forward at Mondelez and I ask everybody to take that step forward with us. It’s not going to be easy and we’re going to have to challenge some really core things that we do, but unless we start we’re never going to get there. Let’s start to trust each other, let’s start to move forward and let’s start to think about big collaboration, not small collaboration.”
Sarah Greenfield, Unilever Logistics Director, spoke of the need to develop more integrated transport networks. “A lot of the information that will unlock true collaboration, particularly in transport, isn’t necessarily commercially sensitive,” she explained. “From a manufacturer point of view, we’re very open to having those solutions and those ideas coming to us. We don’t know everything – we don’t know the entire networks. We are looking for people to say here’s an unlock.”
Great Bear Chief Executive Glenn Lindfield stressed the need for greater collaboration between customers and suppliers. “Taking a partnership approach and working in a collaborative manner leads to trust and strategic alignment, and these are the key ingredients to a successful relationship,” he said.
“Contractual relationships need to be equitable and they need to work for both parties. We all have a tendency to over negotiate, which just leads to issues and problems down the line.”
The Head of UK Operations for Shutl, the ‘game changing’ delivery service, delivered some radical thoughts on the need for bricks-and-mortar retailers to think collaboratively in order to fight off the threat from Amazon.
“By introducing Shutl into the consumer proposition,” he explained, “the High Street can compete with the peer players on two key battlegrounds – 1) on range through collaboration across the high street; and 2) on convenience – we’re able to get the items delivered now.”
The SCALA Annual Logistics Debate was held in conjunction with West Midlands CILT and the headline partners were Toyota Manual Handling and Great Bear, with additional support from PD Ports and the Food Storage & Distribution Federation.
SCALA Senior Partner and CILT board member David Grahamslaw chaired what is considered one of the ‘must-attend’ events in the logistics calendar. Opening remarks were made by John Perry, SCALA chief executive, with the debate being brought to a close by Nigel Smith, Supply Chain Director for Tayto.