How data is shaping the future of supply chain
June 6, 2021 – The COVID-19 pandemic forced many changes in our industry’s operating practices, from leaning heavily into ecommerce to an increased focus on supply chain management. The pandemic especially highlighted the value of being a data-driven, consumer-focused enterprise, as data will be the cornerstone of the supply chain of the future and lead us directly to the end consumer.
“While no one saw the pandemic coming, we have all worked diligently and creatively to respond to it,” said Peter Lijewski, VP, Supply Chain of Breakthru Beverage Group. “They say that information is power, but really, shared information creates power. At Breakthru, we and our supplier and customer partners have recognized the power and value in eliminating silos and sharing information to help us all better allocate our resources.”
The supply chain of the future will be designed to move insights and information across tiers and enable a network of responsive partners aimed at eliminating waste and getting things right for the consumer. This starts by pulling data from the consumer rather than pushing product out to them—by understanding and anticipating, we become data and consumer-driven and the supply chain can better serve us all.
“Being demand-driven means we collectively focus on delivering the right products to the right markets in the right quantity at the right time,” said Lijewski. “We, as distributors, must take the lead to inform our suppliers, who must be willing to listen and collaborate with us to serve the end consumer. At Breakthru, we see ourselves as leaders in collaborating with suppliers and customers to continuously improve our business model, proactively address industry challenges and deliver upon our stakeholders’ performance expectations.”
To achieve this, it is critical to invest in supply chain talent and technology, making the data and analytics actionable and accessible for teams across the tiers. At Breakthru, we are taking aim at internal processes that dam information to instead create a flow of meaningful data and consumer insights from our data team to points in the supply chain where resource decisions are made. This means integrating market-level data from account managers into our projections, which are then shared with our producers to influence decisions in scheduling or in the next point of the chain such as packaging material suppliers. It means analyzing forecast errors to understand if there are new trends emerging and quickly sharing these observations to speed response time and proactively understand if there are any constraints to growth. It means focusing on supply dynamics as one flow, rather than as discrete silos.
In addition to expanded access and ease of use, these technology and digital investments convert data to game-changing business intelligence, putting insights to work in every market, for each supplier partner and customer.
Developing end-to-end visibility will reduce blind spots and allow us to be responsive to the needs of a changing market. We are working with suppliers to share information that reduces delays and improves production cycles. Eliminating the scarcity of information available to decision-makers will help eliminate a scarcity of goods by facilitating better demand planning.
This is how supply chains were intended to run. Building more reliable supply networks will not just ensure consumers have access to the products they want but will also deliver a more satisfying consumer experience.
“The models have been around for years, but the pandemic forced us to focus on collaboration,” said Lijewski. “Distributors, suppliers and customers alike have realized the critical nature of supply chain management, and the value of the planning process and the information being gathered every day.”
“At Breakthru, operations, supply chain and logistics expertise support the backbone of the business and these teams drive efficiency standards that produce smart results. Innovation in these areas will ensure that we do more than just keep pace with the commercial successes of the business, but rather that we continue to drive the business to greater heights,” said Arthur Wirtz, EVP, Operations. “Together with our supplier and customer partners, we are truly building the supply chain of the future by moving these discussions from back-of-the-house to the center of our business agendas.”
About Breakthru Beverage Group
Breakthru Beverage Group is one of the leading alcohol wholesalers in the United States and the largest broker in Canada representing a full total beverage alcohol portfolio of spirits, wine and beer. Breakthru is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and supports a wide range of notable organizations as well as local charitable initiatives across its North American footprint. Across all markets, Breakthru aligns a nimble and insightful approach to sales, marketing and operations. Family ownership is active in the business and committed to being stewards of heritage and champions of innovation. For more information, visit www.BreakthruBev.com.