Alyssa Futterer, Senior Marketing Technology Manager at Blytheco, has over 12 years of digital, communications and content marketing experience with 5 years in software tech specializing in the ERP, EDI, and SaaS space. Alyssa leverages her relevant experience to create content that educates and informs customers and industry professionals, and helps to improve their businesses through innovative software technologies. Connect with Alyssa on Linkedin.
The Role of CRM in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
How organizations have managed their operations has evolved over the last 100 years. What was once viewed as best practice in the early 1900s is now considered archaic. Companies no longer track the progress of their operation with pencil and pad. Since the 1970s, companies have leveraged computers and software tailor-made to handle one aspect of a business's operation. Today’s technology allows for oversight of virtually every facet of the operation from a centralized source of truth. An essential component of that centralization is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Not only can a CRM integrate seamlessly with an ERP solution, but it can also have a profound effect on logistics and supply chain management.
Modern Supply Chain Challenges
Today’s supply chain requires more than pad and pencil oversight. Modern supply chain management must be meticulously organized using digital tools to handle large amounts of data shared with decision-makers across multiple channels. With complex supply chains expanding globally every day and logistics requirements pushed to the limit, digital tools must oversee challenges in sourcing, procurement, production, distribution, delivery, and customer service – all while providing visibility into every facet of the supply chain. Additional challenges modern supply chains face include ever-changing requirements for inventory levels and forecasting in ways that accurately meet customer demand with little to no waste.
At the heart of supply chain challenges lies the customer. Companies' relationships with their customers will determine the success of producing and delivering products and services. If providing the right product or service at the right time the way the customer wants, companies will be successful. If there is misalignment with customer expectations, profits are squeezed, and revenue is at risk.
A robust CRM solution can help mitigate a number of these challenges stemming from customer misalignment by simply capturing and analyzing essential customer data that provides insight into what they truly want.
What is a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)?
Inherently understanding customers truly begins with developing a relationship with customers. An essential step in doing this starts with leveraging a CRM solution. Properly deployed, a CRM solution enables the company to identify existing and prospective customers, engage with those individuals and businesses, cultivate relationships, and foster trust and affinity that leads to initial and repeat sales.
In addition to cultivating relationships, a CRM solution provides keen insight into customers. Discussions, event participation, inclinations to make a purchase, unique needs, barriers, and just about every other data point are captured within a CRM. The data that arises can then be analyzed to anticipate future orders and plan manufacturing capacity.
A CRM is a conduit in which customers and prospects convey specific wants and needs to a company.
What is Supply Chain Management Software?
In addition to a CRM, supply chain management (SCM) software is used to better manage multiple components of the supply chain. Whether tracking and managing sourcing, procurement, shipping, delivery, and more, an SCM ensures products and services move smoothly throughout the pipeline to meet customer needs.
Several SCM solutions are integrated into other systems and blend seamlessly with ERP and CRM software. When working together with other solutions, an SCM system can provide a 360-degree view of a company’s total operation.
Customer Relationship Management and Supply Chain Management Integration Considerations
Because customers are one of the essential components of the supply chain, there are several issues to consider when looking to incorporate a CRM solution. Decisions made by those managing the supply chain are influenced by the opinions and values of customers who want products and services delivered according to their specifications.
Customer demand impacts the supply chain in several ways, from finding suitable suppliers to disaster-proofing the chain. Highly competitive companies take customer demands into account in virtually every aspect of their business.
Keeping customer requirements and preferences top of mind is why a CRM comes in quite handy when managing the supply chain. Many SCM systems either contain a built-in CRM solution or are integrated easily with third-party CRM solutions.
It’s also important to remember what a CRM can do as part of an SCM solution. Companies can track customer preferences and buying patterns, providing the intelligence necessary to deploy resources and raw materials properly.
Integrating CRM and SCM solutions can enable predictive analysis, giving the practicing organization a competitive advantage leading to more significant growth and better overall performance. A capable CRM solution can leverage captured customer data to help supply chain managers make better end-to-end supply chain decisions when joined with an SCM.
Combining CRM, Logistics and Supply Chain Management
A CRM solution is designed to enhance any supply chain management solution, enhancing production, logistics and delivery, buyer-supplier relationships, and successfully meeting customer needs.
Contact one of our CRM implementation experts for more information on how Blytheco can help your company successfully integrate a CRM and SCM solution.