2016 Challenge: Transform Your Supply Chain into Commerce

Whether you realize it or not, technology is transforming all of us in some way, shape or form. It’s transforming the way your customers act, transforming the supply chain, transforming your business, and transforming you. For the year 2016, we want to challenge you to be on the forefront of this transformation.

We are at the beginning of a great change in supply chain—in fact, the term “supply chain” is incomplete, because supply chain functions for the purpose of enabling commerce.  So truly, we’re talking about commerce. Why? Because now the consumer is empowered and involved like never before. And when the consumer is involved, we’re talking about commerce. And so, the world of commerce is transforming.

A Shift is Occurring

Think about it:

  1. Many of your customers buy from you differently than in the past. In fact, they might even be different customers.
  2. Your competition is certainly different. It might be Amazon; it might be eBay; it might be a distributor or importer disrupting the old business model.

No matter how you look at it, a shift is occurring. The fact is this: customers are interacting differently with you, and you with them, and this change demands that you transform your business and the way you think about your business, your customers, and your industry.


Why is this transformation happening and why do you need to be aware of it? It has to do with the increased connectivity of people, places, things, businesses, and systems has led to an explosion of new information, as our mobile, social world drives waves of new data.

You’ve likely heard of ‘Big Data’ and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), but there is a good chance your business is not yet ready to harness and use these resources.  In 2015, there was a lot of talk about it.  In 2016, your business will need to respond or be left behind.

Here’s a quick look at where all the data is coming from, why it’s here to stay, and why it’s growing so astronomically:

Sensors are everywhere

Social engagement is exploding

The world is increasingly going digital

So What?

So? How does this influx or digital data and social behavior apply to you and your organization? Are there insights in that data that you can use? Will it affect the way you forecast, order, plan or profit? Will it be impossible for technology from the past decade (or worse yet, century) to handle this new wave of data. Yes, yes, and um, yes.

The market is moving fast, and if you’re not moving fast too, you’ll be left behind. And if you wait too long, you’ll be too far behind to catch up. Equally frightening is the fact that while you are not using the data that’s available to you, you can bet someone else is. We are inspired by the possibilities and we want to inspire, encourage and compel you to imagine the possibilities. In 2016, we are going to lead the way in demonstrating what you can do with all this data and point you to the insights you can gain from it.

Participation is Imperative

As the pace of business increases, and more information about what people are doing, thinking, feeling, saying, and buying becomes available, the more that it becomes imperative that you participate in order to keep pace. The question is no longer if an organization needs to use this data but rather how quickly you begin to capitalize on the insights that are available.

You may not recognize it, your company may not recognize it, but you're part of this transformation now. A transformation this disruptive to the status quo requires ignorance. Yes, ignorance.  It requires a certain level of naïveté. This transformation is going to require you to forget everything that you know about supply-chain. The only presumption that you should make is that your prior presumptions are wrong. And when you start thinking about things in that way, you’ll have the right mindset to start to engage in this transformation.


For this New Year, we’re going to ask you to open your mind to new ways of thinking, to embrace a more analytical method because there is so much information available out there, and so much you can do with it, that it will allow you to change. And in order for you to take advantage of it, you're going to have to transform.

Three things that you need to do to get into a transformational mindset:

  1. Question everything.

    Ask yourself “Why do we do things this way?”  How many times do you get the answer, “Well, because that’s the way we’ve always done it”? That answer won’t work anymore. Learn to dig. Learn to look at things from new angles. Cultivate curiosity. For example:

    • Why are we predicting what items will “do” instead of customers?
    • Why does it take so much human intervention to get results from our solution?
    • What if we could optimize inventory for an entire year, not just one order at a time?
    • How can we fulfill demand without constantly creating obsolete inventory?
    • What if we could eliminate markdowns rather than price optimizing them?
    • How would our profit improve if we could increase the accuracy of our inventory, operational, and financial planning?
  2. Simplify.

    Have you heard of Occam’s razor? It’s not a new shave club. Occam’s razor is the precept that the simplest solution is usually the best one. So take the issues you’re facing today and break them down into their simplest format. Find the simplest possible solution, and that will likely be your best solution.  What if you could:

    • Set your business goals and have your technology solution drive planning and action toward them
    • Automate the heavy lifting of your demand forecasting (trends, seasons, events, etc.)
    • Plan your inventories, transitions, purchases, receipts, capacity and financials so precisely that no external modeling is necessary
    • Focus your team on more strategic, and financially-beneficial tasks

    In the coming months, we will show you how to streamline decision-making and make changes that matter. Stay tuned for future editions of our 2016 Pitfalls to Avoid. We plan to share tips, insights, small and significant changes that can lead to big pay-offs.

  3. Pivot.

    Pivot is what companies do when they are working with a sub-optimal business concept and somebody says, “That ain’t gonna work anymore. Find something else.”

    Sony started as a bean curd company; IBM started in typewriters. (Look it up, Millennials).  That’s pivoting. It is dramatically shifting the direction of your viewpoint, plan and action.

    So get ready to pivot. Be ready to change everything. Be ready to:

    • First and foremost, reconsider commerce (supply chain) planning as a profit driver. The more accurately you plan, the more efficiency you’ll see across your enterprise.
    • Change the way you think about demand. True demand is about what motivates your customers to buy…items don’t buy themselves.
    • Accelerate your pace of transformation. Consumers move fast. Your supply chain needs to be responsive.

Primarily, we encourage you to be ready to recognize and accept that things need to change. And then do it. Chances are good that what you’re doing needs to change anyway, so think of change from that perspective and know that this series will give you tips to guide you along the way.  And rest assured that there is a technology out there to enable transformational change.  This is our charge. It’s a pretty bold statement.

The status quo is what is hindering your ability to perform.

Conceding to the way things have always been done is what’s hindering your ability to perform and, ultimately, what could threaten your ability to survive.

At Blue Ridge, we are not content to improve on old school ideas. We’re rethinking the supply chain-consumer connection, concerning ourselves with what drives consumers to buy, rather than a mere estimation of sales. By uniquely analyzing every customer transaction, we power a deeper understanding of demand, and in turn the most precise inventory alignment across the supply chain.

Your 2016 Resolutions

Need help with your New Year’s resolutions? We’ve got your covered. Here they are:

Resolve to:

  1. Capture every possible sale with each customer.
  2. Understand when and WHY demand occurs. That’s forecasting.
  3. Build a continually optimized 365 day replenishment plan.
  4. Achieve inventory alignment across all commerce layers in the supply chain.
  5. Collaborate internally and externally.
  6. Achieve economies of scale.
  7. Optimize the economics of every inventory decision.
  8. Eliminate excess inventories.
  9. Automate
  10. Gain expert oversight to optimize your inventory

Resolve not to get left behind.

Contact Blue Ridge, and get these ten transformational benefits like every one of our customers has. Talk to us about your transformation today. We are proud to do business with retailers, distributors and manufacturers of every industry. Commerce is transforming. Make sure you transform with it.


  1. Mobile devices now outnumber humans: Report. Aaron Mamiit, Tech Times | October 8, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/17431/20141008/mobile-devices-now-outnumber-humans-report.htm
  2. Gartner Says 4.9 Billion Connected "Things" Will Be in Use in 2015. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2905717
  3. http://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/#trend
  4. The Zettabyte Era—Trends and Analysis  (http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/VNI_Hyperconnectivity_WP.html