In the latest instalment of our supply chain industry executive interview series, we spoke to Patrick Barlow, Senior Manager at Logistics Reply, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, market opportunities, new technology and real-time visibility…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
Logistics Reply has been creating Warehouse Management Systems for over 20 years in the Food / Retail / 3PL / Manufacturing / Automotive sectors, and as a result we now also offer our own agile microserviced Supply Chain Fulfilment software that looks upstream/downstream from the warehouse – with ‘off the shelf’ products such as Yard Management; Dock Appointment Scheduling; Proof Of Delivery; Real-time Stock Visibility; Ship From Store, Dark-Store Fulfilment and Dropship.
What have been the biggest challenges the Supply Chain industry has faced over the past 12 months?
- The ever-changing “Will They / Won’t They” game of Lockdown release/contraction (and how it’s affected people’s buying patterns and the resulting ever-changing Fulfilment challenges).
- Close-proximity working / On-site outbreaks and Isolation / Working from home.
- All with a delicate sprinkling of Brexit’s delightful cocktail of Border Compliance Requirements (outbound and inbound).
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
- The ‘opportunity’ for most Store-only Retailers to have to adapt and go Multi-channel (if they succeeded!);
- One horticultural supplier (Double H) who used to supply only direct to Retailers and were on the brink of collapse, but successfully turned it around by founding their own e-Commerce website and are now doing better than ever.
- And anybody offering agile Warehouse Space has definitely had it all snapped up!!!
What is the biggest priority for the Supply Chain industry in 2021?
- Single View Of Stock (across all players in the chain); and Cost-effective Agile Fulfilment – the one feeds the other.
- To answer the question “Which stock is closest to which Customer, and therefore where should it be picked / fulfilled from – National DC, Local DC, Retail Store, Dark Store, or Dropship/Supplier Direct Fulfilment?”
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?
- Manufacturers/Suppliers, 3PLs and Retailers all working collaboratively to achieve Real-Time Visibility.
What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?
- For More Mature/Established players – End-To-End Real-Time Inbound Visibility; AI for Demand Planning; and possibly Blockchain for Sustainability.
- For Medium-Sized players – it could be agile/cloud-based Warehouse Management Systems;
- For Smaller Supplier/Manufacturers – it’s likely to be Despatch-only software (to provide their larger Customers with the Inbound Tracking/Visibility they need, without actual Stock Management).
In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?
- How to over-correct/re-balance some of the understandably swift decisions taken in relation to Lockdown in 2020-1. (“We need to re-open in some of the store locations we walked away from… How much will it cost us?)
Which person in, or associated with, the Supply Chain industry would you most like to meet?
- We’ve been lucky enough to meet the Ocado team and work with them, which is cutting-edge…
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Supply Chain sector?
- The myriad ways in which people supply different products – differing speeds of movement / supply chain models (Efficient; Fast; Continuous Flow etc.)
- The difference in priorities by different Countries / Cultures (what works in one, won’t work in another).
You go to the bar at the Total Supply Chain Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
- I’m a big fan of red wine (Pinot Noir, Malbec, Montepulciano)
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
- New requests / new requirements that we haven’t thought of: “Can you do this…?”
- Site Visits – seeing how different people and organisations achieve things, and meeting new people.
- I’m personally also always delighted when a Brand-new Customer contacts us and says we were recommended by an Existing Customer… no better feeling!!!
And what’s the most challenging?
- Prioritisation – with 10 products, 4 sectors and perennially vocal clients (whom we love!) there’s never a dull moment!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
- “Don’t listen to the Words People Say, pay attention to The Overall Nature Of Their Behaviour.”
- And easily the best definition of Sales I ever heard: “Sales = Friendship + Expertise.”
(ie. if one of them isn’t there, it will never, ever happen)
Peaky Blinders or Stranger Things?
- Whilst the title of Stranger Things might reflect the past 1-2 years for all of us… it’s got to be Peaky Blinders!