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Elanders Value Recovery service – Generate 30% extra revenue from your old IT assets

By Elanders

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We help companies increase the value of their old IT Assets by up to 30%.  Elanders’ offer is completely transparent regarding market value. We have a certified & secure supply chain for recovery of assets, data deletion and refurbishment.

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The importance of demand planning in the digital age

By Jörg Junghanns, Head of Europe – Digital Supply Chain for Business Services at Capgemini

In today’s volatile commercial environment, where customer expectations are at an all-time high, supply chain flexibility has become paramount for any business looking to edge ahead. Recognised as the key enabler of any truly adjustable supply chain, this race for agility is placing increased pressure on businesses to strengthen their demand management capabilities. 

Whilst previously viewed as a reactive process involved in responding to changing market conditions, advances in technology are forcing demand planning to take on a strategic role. No longer seen as just a fulfilment function, demand planning is now expected to be a growth enabler that underscores a business’s ability to drive profits, impress customers and stay ahead of competition. 

So, as the demands of the digital era drives heightened expectations around demand planning, just how can they keep up? Here are three ways demand planners can harness the latest technologies in order to seize their new strategic opportunity…

Dedicating time to decision-making

Through the adoption of AI, traditional and labour-intensive tasks within demand planning can be automated. This is of immense value when it comes to analysing and interpreting data. Not only is AI able to do this more accurately and quickly, but this allows human teams to redirect time previously spent on this task into more strategic business efforts. 

What’s more, AI can give demand planners back precious time previously spent creating short-term demand plans or triggering stock replenishment. With these tasks firmly in the hands of AI, teams can then concentrate on progressing higher-value business objectives that will have a greater impact on the organisation. With AI taking on menial and time-consuming tasks, demand planners can dedicate more hours on investigating how to improve operational efficiency, identifying new ways to increase profits and take on a more holistic role within the business. 

Improving forecasts

By 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth. As this wealth of data grows exponentially, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to detect customer purchasing patterns. Here, AI can be deployed to process this data and excavate subtle patterns that a human might not be able to detect. By aggregating datasets from Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and IoT systems – and analysing this against external variables and contextual data such as a calendar of events, seasonality and the weather – AI can provide an extremely accurate forecast. 

To take a truly holistic approach, AI forecasts should then be linked through supply and inventory planning in order to automate replenishment triggers, so that organizations consistently have the correct number of products in stock. In turn, this drives sales by improving order fill rates and shelf availability. 

Rapidly responding

Historically, external factors such as natural disasters or shortages of raw materials have seriously impacted demand forecasting, leaving supply chains vulnerable. Instead of using legacy data, AI and machine learning tools use real-time calculations to react to supply chain disruptions. On top of this, automation enables rapid responses to changing consumer demands, leading to boosting profits and enhancing consumer loyalty. 

When it comes to retail, for example, weather can trigger significant fluctuations in consumer demand. Creating rules based on the relationship between demand for a product and elements such as rain, hours of sunshine and temperate can be a laborious task. When these processes are automated, retailers can proactively plan for increases or decreases in local demand. Quicker reactions to external factors such as these can boost the accuracy of demand planning and limit monetary losses.


As a result of growing demands and evolving technologies, the role of the demand planner is rapidly transforming. With many of the operational functions they were once responsible for now automated, their remit has broadened outside of their historically transactional role.

By leveraging AI and automation, demand planners can now be seen as partners to their business, working in real-time and collaboratively with other disciplines in the organization such as production and planning systems, and of course ultimately with customers. 

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How real-time visibility of the supply chain can help mitigate food waste

In today’s market, consumer demands have not only driven supply chain efficiencies for greater speed and convenience but are increasingly now forcing retailers to address expectations of improved sustainability.

The consequences of keeping up with customers’ wishes aren’t always easy and may have an adverse effect on short term business plans and processes, especially if your supply chain isn’t as seamless and transparent as it should be. Even the smallest of inefficiencies can add up and lead to all manner of waste during production, transport and even disposal.

Over recent years, the grocery market has come under scrutiny and intense pressure to re-evaluate its approach to tackling food waste, with around 88 million tonnes worth being generated yearly across the EU, a staggering 40% of food doesn’t even make it to the market. 

The problem is, without real-time insight into the exact status and condition of product and inventory within the end-to-end supply chain, what options do companies have to address waste and improve customer engagement? Amir Harel, General Manager of Visibility Solutions at Zetes, explores how complete real-time, intelligence-driven visibility of the supply chain can help mitigate food waste…

The Lack of Supply Chain Visibility 

The world is ready for change. According to REFRESH, an EU research project acting against food waste, resources being lost and wasted in Europe would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world twice over. It’s a message that consumers around the world are taking to heart. From reusable bags to paper straws, and bottle-free toiletries to meat-free diets, people are taking real steps to reduce waste, and they expect the businesses they buy from to do the same.

In the UK, for instance, grocers have encouragingly pledged to halve their food waste from ‘farm to fork’ by 2030. Whilst we commend large retailers for deploying innovative ideas such as the introduction of ‘wonky veg’ – vegetables that do not meet the aesthetic requirements of supermarkets due to shape or appearance – are now being sold in supermarkets to help combat waste, it is analysing the production of waste on a more granular level that will achieve a positive environmental impact at a far greater scale and have more effect. 

Yet, recent research from Sapio, on behalf of Zetes, reveals that the current levels of supply chain visibility are far from perfect, with a staggering 94% of organisations surveyed saying they lack transparency throughout their supply chain.

Unlock Capability

To implement an appropriate resolution, it is imperative that the cause of waste is understood. There are so many contributors – from the excess inventory that arises from poor and/or delayed forecasting and orders, to time lost during the distribution process coupled with inefficient transportation models can be devastating for any short shelf-life products. Just 30% of organisations have full visibility of goods in transit. As a result, addressing the food waste that occurs at every stage of the supply chain is a complex task.

Research highlights that 79% believe that improved visibility would have a material effect on cutting wastage. As a taste of the potential savings, it’s estimated that supply chains could reduce food waste alone by €240bn.

For example, reducing empty miles, improving first time in full delivery, minimising unnecessary stock movement between stores, avoiding forecasting or ordering disputes and achieving far more intelligent routing, are all critical components for an efficient supply chain that minimises waste.

Real-time efficiency 

Having complete visibility and traceability of products is also key to a resilient supply chain, which is especially important when recalls and faults in production can cause crisis situations and disruptions. When retailers are able to share data throughout their supplier ecosystem in real time, they can create the foundations for better collaboration based on stronger connections and highly effective dynamic forecasting.

It is also essential that companies understand how technology can be deployed and utilised to address each challenge – whether that is waste reduction through improved transportation or more accurate and dynamic levels of stock availability.

So, where to start?     

Environmental consciousness in the digital age will continue to have a huge impact on retailers. The vision to transform ‘farm to fork’ and remove food waste from the supply chain is big. To succeed, retailers need to start small, identifying priority areas first, where quick and impactful wins can be realised. As they start to see results, they will be able to scale fast and ultimately achieve full end-to-end intelligence-driven visibility.

Zetes’ Supply Chain Visibility Research Report surveyed 451 respondents in the UK, France, Germany and Spain. All interviews were conducted in December 2018 and January 2019.

Image by Jasmin Sessler from Pixabay


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INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: So what is Transportation and Logistics Management?

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) defines logistics as ‘the process of planning, implementing, and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services, and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements’.

This definition includes inbound freight management, outbound, internal, and external movements.

Often, outsourcing logistics to an expert provider, who can not only offer software, such as a transportation management system, but also integrated services to deal with accounting, claims, transportation routes, documentation, custom clearance, transportation including sea, air and road transportation and building custom inbound freight programs will allow the internal logistics team to have more meaningful collaborations with others in the supply chain and company at large.

Rather than focusing on all of the details and complexity of both transportation and logistics management, it allows the logistics team to really focus on results and strategy for further logistics optimisation, as opposed to tactics. When you can focus on results, and have a trusted partner help you, often both hard and soft costs savings are realised at a much more efficient and quicker pace. But how could this help you and how do you choose a partner? Well we thought we would ask one of our valuable customers what they think.

Lionvest is one of the UK’s largest independent wood flooring wholesalers and is currently use Meachers for all of their supply chain needs International and across the UK. They have a full supply chain solution from International import, custom clearance, container movement, warehousing, stock management through a WMS system and delivery across the UK and Europe. 

Mark Warrington, Shipping Manager at Lionvest Trading, said: “Meachers’ dedicated and knowledgeable team can always be relied upon to provide an efficient and friendly service. They provide a tailor-made service, offering the flexibility that we need to cater to the demands of our customers. Their excellent attention to detail combined with their modern warehousing, latest bar-coding and picking technology, enables the highly efficient despatching of over 200 of our product lines.

“Meachers’ management, administrative and warehouse personnel fully understand our products and logistical requirements and frequently go the extra mile for us enabling us to shine in the eyes of our customers.”

If you would like to look at outsourcing your supply chain management or any part of your supply chain then please contact Meachers at or call us on 023 8073 9999

GUEST BLOG: Data holds the key to food sustainability

A raft of new sustainability and food wastage initiatives is undoubtedly focusing the attention of food service and hospitality providers. Otherwise wasted food from kitchens is increasingly being repurposed by a number of great charities, which is a great start but should not distract from the bigger issues within the end to end food production supply chain.

In addition to improving the measurement and monitoring of food production within kitchens, it will be the sharing and analysis of data from manufacturers, 3PLs, processors and hospitality that will be key to achieving the ambitious targets in reducing wastage, Peter Ruffley, Chairman of Zizo explains…

Front Line Responsibility

There has been a plethora of recent initiatives to tackle the £3bn of food wasted in this food service and hospitality sector every year, from ‘Step Up to the Plate’ which encourages organisations to make commitments to measure and reducing their own food waste, to the ‘Guardians of Grub’ from Wrap and ‘Food waste, Bad taste’ from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

While the target to halve food waste by 2030 may seem ambitious, its goal is to get half of the 250 largest food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste this year under the IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap that will require a very significant change in mindset. Right now, many of the companies in this sector looking at food sustainability have passed the buck to those on the front line: signing up with any one of the excellent charitable organisations, such as FareShare, which repurpose and redistribute surplus food.

While this is clearly an important step in ensuring this food is used wherever possible, it does not address the reason for that waste in the first place. Companies are not actively monitoring and measuring the entire food preparation process to better understand the causes of waste.

Data Driven Reduction

Clearly attitudes are changing; the idea that wastage is an inevitable biproduct of food production is being challenged. Given the economic challenges facing the issue, the financial benefits are also compelling: according to research from Wrap, the average benefit-cost ratio for food waste reduction was 7:1 over a three-year time frame.  And key to achieving this benefit is data driven understanding; from measuring food waste, to rethinking inventory and purchasing practices and reducing food over production.

Some steps are easier than others. Food waste is highly visual – and with the right approach companies can quickly map trends. Are some menu items routinely uneaten? Can portion sizes be reconsidered? Clearly it is easier to impose control within those mass market organisations with ubiquitous, often microwaved, food products. In many ways the trend towards fresh, local and healthier eating has made it more difficult to manage and reduce wastage. But measuring trends in food utilisation and consumption can quickly reveal opportunities to reduce portion size, tweak menus and rethink supply.

Changing Attitudes

Cultural shifts in this area will also pay dividends.  Change customer expectations by reducing the extensive menus, for example. It is far easier to predict demand and ensure consistent quality with a smaller product set, which will reduce waste; and publicising the sustainability goal will resonate with the customer base.  

Companies also need to look beyond the kitchen and consider the end to end supply chain – and this too will require a change in attitude from the industry to achieve transparency and understanding.

Right now, an organisation with a supply chain that stretches around the world will typically have no information from multiple manufacturers or third-party logistics (3PL) about wastage or fuel consumption. To achieve any meaningful insight into environmental impact will require a collaborative approach to data sharing if food overproduction is to be addressed right from the beginning of the supply chain.

Image by Lars_Nissen_Photoart from Pixabay

GUEST BLOG: Four steps to achieving successful demand forecasting

By Guy Cuthbert, CEO, Atheon Analytics

The Grocery Code Adjudicator states that suppliers to UK grocery retailers deserve to receive timely and accurate forecasts. Its GSCOP code of practice defines what is expected, and its latest annual report states that all regulated retailers achieved compliance.

Despite this, forecasting remains one of the top three issues suppliers face. The report highlights suppliers reporting poor forecasts from retailers, significant variations between forecasts and orders, and penalties for failing to meet service levels.

In part, the problem lies in the lack of definition of ‘a forecast’; even GSCOP does not make clear what it means. Consider the following forecasts:

  •       An annual prediction of the volume of every product which will be purchased from a supplier (a joint business plan?)
  •       A 3-month prediction of weekly product sales in store (a seasonal forecast?)
  •       A 6-week aggregate weekly order prediction
  •       A 14-day daily prediction of short-term product sales, allowing for weather and promotions
  •       A 7-day demand forecast (not the same as a sales forecast, and more important to a supplier). Is this by depot?
  •       An order, for delivery tomorrow

Which of these is the ‘forecast’ that GSCOP requires retailers to share with suppliers? Which of these is the most useful to the supplier? Which should be measured against actual orders to determine ‘forecast accuracy’?

Furthermore, the GCA June 2018 publication states that:

“It was found that retailers adopted a range of approaches, and used the word “forecast” in a variety of ways. Some made a clear distinction between a forecast and an order; others did not see forecasting as a discrete activity but rather, as an integral part of supply chain management, often proceeding close to real time;”

So how can retailers and suppliers move forward?

The GCA’s Best Practice Guide makes 17 recommendations to improve the current process. These include:

  •       Closer collaboration between retailers and their suppliers
  •       Regularly reviewing forecasting performance
  •       Ensuring that suppliers are able to get access to supply chain or buying teams to share intelligence and discuss forecasts or orders
  •       Ensuring that retailers have adequate systems and processes which learn from and take account of known or past issues
  •       Ensuring that suppliers are able to access adequate sales data

The 17 recommendations in the GCA Best Practice Guide are all achievable – only if both sides can make better use of available data, and are willing to share and discuss insights in an easily accessible way.

As such, there are four critical elements to accurate demand forecasting that will help retailers not only comply with GSCOP and the GCA recommendations but, as a result, help transform supply chain efficiency, availability and waste.

  1.   Data at a granular level

A forecast’s purpose is to help ensure suppliers meet order expectations, therefore it is important they receive forecast order volume at a granular level of detail: 

  •       By product (not by category, and not a total)
  •       By day (important for short-life goods and/or just-in-time logistics)
  •       By depot (essential for appropriate inventory in the right part of the country)

Without this, any other ‘forecast’ is at best a guide to what might be required and when, but won’t help the supplier ensure that appropriate inventory is in the right location at the right time so that orders can be fulfilled to high service-level targets (typically 98% or above).

  1.   The ability to quickly interpret data

Some suppliers have hundreds (even thousands) of products going into multiple depots each day. Not only do they need accurate data, but they need to be proactively alerted to changes in forecast.

Analysing changes is time consuming and opportunities can easily be missed.  Instead, suppliers need to be able to react quickly to rectify predicted stock-outs, poorly performing promotions and despatch issues.

The data that is supplied by retailers on a daily basis does not include alerts, analysis or trends.  As a result, many suppliers have developed complex spreadsheets to extract the data and provide some analysis, but generally this relies on the knowledge of one or a few people at the supplier.  Those complex spreadsheets, by their very nature, are open to error.

Data warehouse or BI software provides an alternative to spreadsheets, but the views of the data have to be specified, built and maintained, and often the knowledge is – again – held by one or a select few people in the supplier’s business. A system in place whereby state-of -the art visual analytics are presented, daily for anyone in the business to see and interact with, allows key interventions to be made with confidence and ease.  

  1.   Consistency of definition

Forecasting at SKU level by location is critical to most suppliers, but forecasting at the category level may be enough for some retailers.  Even those who forecast to SKU level often don’t distinguish between locations or even channels, so a forecast to a retail buyer may simply be a quantity over time, whereas a “good” forecast for suppliers is much more granular. 

Retailers and suppliers may use different coding for the same SKU.  Suppliers may supply in different units of measure to that used at the retail end. (Cartons instead of units, for example). Suppliers and retailers could even give different names to the delivery depots and branches. All of which make comparing retailer data difficult – both across retailers, and also with your own internal metrics and reports.  

It’s really important, therefore, to be able to transform the data provided by retailer into a format that is clear to the supplier.  It is only then that the business can make smart and informed decisions that will impact their business.

  1.   The ability to challenge forecasts and collaborate

Suppliers can be subject to penalties for not providing the right goods at the right time to the right place.  But if the retailer forecast is so short-term or inaccurate that the supplier cannot react, then both parties have an issue. It is imperative that suppliers and retailers forge trusted partnerships which encourage mutually beneficial collaboration.

Similarly, under GSCOP rules, the “retailer must fully compensate the supplier for any cost incurred by the Supplier as a result of any forecasting error in relation to Grocery products”.

So, how should that collaboration take place?

In order for any discussions to take place between retailers and suppliers, there first has to be a trusted source of common data from which to work. In addition, that data should be “humanised” – in other words be presented in a format that is easily understood by both parties. Finally, there has to be a means of sharing that data online as the retail buyer and supplier are likely to be in different locations, which would ensure both parties are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

With this shared view of the data, the supplier can help the retailer to:

  •       Make tactical proactive decisions and interventions on orders and stock levels
  •       Plan and optimise promotions
  •       Review forecasts based on accurate analysis

The net result of this can be seen as:

  •       Fewer stock-outs, improved sales for both parties
  •       More accurate forecasting leading to less waste for both (particularly fresh produce)
  •       Improved service levels and availability


When it comes to achieving successful demand forecasting, we need to eradicate the concept of the supplier vs the retailer. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, both need to realise that it is only through fostering a mentality of genuine collaboration, that everyone can benefit. A platform which both supplier and retailer have full visibility of SKUs and access to key daily information with ease is a must. In doing so, genuine relationships can be built and changes in forecast reacted to with minimal disruption.

By using best-practice visual analytics tools and techniques, supply-chain and sales data can be blended to highlight indicators for demand (such as sales spikes, low-depot stocks etc.), and provide an easily understood picture of recent and historic sales patterns. 

In an increasingly competitive retail environment, those retailers that can provide accurate forecasts to their suppliers, will benefit from more efficient supply chains, lower costs, better availability, and happier customers (and a happier Grocery Code Adjudicator).

References – 

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

Can blockchain bring the supply chain into the 21st century?

By Richard Shakespeare, Opus Energy

The supply chain has existed since the industrial revolution, and little has been done to streamline its processes, particularly in the last 50 years. It has also become more than simply moving products from A to B. In today’s industry, supply chains are now more fragmented, complicated and in some cases geographically dispersed. 

The 21st century has enabled more dynamic networks than ever before, with seasonal products facing a higher demand than ever, which are transported further than before. Because of this, the traditional supply chain has become outdated and can be difficult to manage. This is a problem for businesses of any size as their success will often correlate with the success of its supply chain.

So, how can blockchain change this? 

Blockchain is everywhere. It was the buzzword of 2018, and so far, that doesn’t look set to change as we continue through 2019. However, there is still plenty of uncertainty over the technology and the benefits it can bring to different sectors and businesses, including the supply chain – a vital element for numerous organisations.

Originally developed to power bitcoin over ten years ago, blockchain is a surprisingly straightforward concept. In a nutshell, it’s a system that records change and movement of transactions. It’s maintained across several systems that are linked to a peer-to-peer network.

When it comes to the supply chain, blockchain acts as an immutable ledger within a decentralisedlocation. Meaning that any changes in ownership or possession of goods, along with their movements from each end of the supply chain, can be recorded instantly for the greatest possible accuracy, which is essential for businesses.

This increased transparency across the chain can allow for a clear understanding of the value of goods, as well as a more succinct idea of a fair and reasonable cost of each individual product. It also allows for more detailed traceability in goods from across the globe, which gives an insight into the environmental impact of products, as purchasers can follow the entire journey of their orders.

How can it reduce costs? 

Many retail businesses are dependent on global supply chains for transporting their goods via the logistics industry. This market is controlled by freight brokers who can charge a huge mark-up for assisting in the transactions of loads through shippers.

Blockchain can be effective in resolving this issue through the use of smart contracts, which are automatically triggered when a specific action takes place, removing the use of intermediaries, therefore saving money across the chain.

As well as cutting out unnecessary and often expensive admin, the features of blockchain can help improve inventory management, reduce costly data errors and delays, and shorten resolution time when disputes occur. It also allows producers the ability to accurately track capacity and costs, estimate delivery times for multiple routes, and make smarter decisions. 

How can it promote tracability? 

Blockchain ensures that the data it records is permanent and easy to share, giving supply chain players more comprehensive track-and-trace capabilities than ever before. The public ledger means it is possible to trace each product to the very origin of the raw material used. Companies can use this information to provide proof of legitimacy and authenticity. It even allows people to see if their purchase has been ethically sourced and if it has been stored in the correct conditions.

By having a clear and concise understanding of exactly where a product has come from, businesses and their customers are able to have a better understanding of the routes taken and transport options used to deliver their goods. In a society that is becoming more environmentally aware, those who can show improvement or have a clear and transparent policy to their own emission production, may be looked on more favourably.

The future? 

Blockchain has the potential to transform the supply chain and disrupt the way we produce, market, purchase and consume goods. The added transparency, traceability and security to the supply chain can go a long way toward making our economies safer and much more reliable, by promoting trust and honesty and preventing the implementation of questionable practices.

Businesses, especially those in retail or those who rely on supply chains, should consider the benefits of blockchain and not be afraid to step into a different world, which on the surface may appear complicated, but in reality, can offer measurable benefits. 

Why crunching data is not the same as making decisions

By Ed Crawford, Product Manager at Atheon Analytics

Many retail businesses feel that they are drowning in data, but also don’t have information in the right format to make it easy to use.

For many individuals in sales or supply-chain roles within the retail sector, much of their job involves downloading, manipulating and formatting data. But is this where the most value to the business lies?

Whilst obtaining and manipulating the data is just the first step,  it is probably what takes 90% of the time and effort – just to put a sales or supply-chain manager in the position where they can then start to apply their domain expertise.

Historically, the technology to automatically collect and manipulate data has been either difficult to use or financially unviable for many businesses, which meant that learning the basics of Excel was the only answer for most people. The ‘best’ analysts at the time were probably those with the best Excel skills rather than those able to interpret the data in the best way or make the best recommendations off the back of the data.

Even today, we hear endless stories about Category Managers spending their Sundays downloading data from retailer systems, just so they have enough time at 6 am on a Monday morning to get the bare minimum of insight together for retailers in time for 9 am meetings.

However, tools and techniques are now available that automate data collection and transformation, taking away all of the pre-analysis pain, leaving domain experts to do what they are paid for, making decisions with confidence.

Automated data collection and transformation means less time wrangling data, whilst combined with visualisation tools and techniques enables faster and deeper analysis. Because this complex data can be articulated quickly, in a way that can be easily understood – especially important when communicating to retailers – this can elevate FMCGs as category experts and build important collaborative relationships where all parties benefit.

Embrace change – I’m old enough to remember the sweet chimes of my 56k dial-up modem connecting me to the internet, something long passed and replaced by 1Gb fibre-enabled broadband – they both will connect me to the internet but I have no desire to spend time waiting to stream my favourite TV show or film.

Yet, in today’s age of 1Gb fibre-enabled broadband, traditional retailer data download processes are the equivalent of using a 56k dial-up modem. It is time to apply this same logic to FMCG data analysis. Let’s free our retail analysts to be able to analyse, not slow them down with tasks that in this day and age, are pointless and most definitely not necessary.

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