Adapt and Thrive with the Autonomous Supply Chain

Abby Jenkins, Product Marketing Manager

October 28, 2020

There have been massive disruptions to supply and demand in the past several years, this year in particular, and the lack of predictability makes it very difficult for companies to operate — it disrupts the business plans, operational plans, demand plans and supply plans they rely on.

And this works both ways: some products have garnered so much demand that businesses can’t produce them quickly enough while others have become obsolete, practically overnight.

The final week of the NetSuite Now On Air virtual conference focuses on supply chain excellence and operational efficiency. Kicking off this week, Laura Maready, vertical product manager for retail, apparel, footwear & accessories and health & beauty, shared some of the new supply chain product enhancements in NetSuite that will enable businesses to be more agile, operate more efficiently and collaborate more effectively in her keynote session.

The Autonomous Supply Chain

“It's difficult in today's environment to keep good customers supplied, optimize both inventory and supply chains and identify alternate routes, vendors and sources of supply without a strong system that provides the insights that businesses need.” Maready said. They all need to work together seamlessly.

An autonomous supply chain that can make those decisions automatically, with little to no human intervention, empowers businesses to act intelligently and ensures they are able to react appropriately. Maready outlined three of the key components of the autonomous supply chain — unified  planning, smart inventory management and efficient execution. Some of NetSuite’s new functionality ensures the right products are available at the right location, at the right time and within budget.

Unified Planning

NetSuite’s supply planning tool has been completely reengineered to support the modern product company. The addition of materials requirements planning (MRP(opens in new tab)) to the supply planning platform gives you the ability to react to events and disruptions to the supply chain in real time, unlike traditional overnight processes.​

  • A holistic view of financial, sales, product, services and people planning lets businesses perform advanced modeling and overlay those results across different departments to understand the total impact on proposed changes across the organization.
  • MRP and supply planning can compare actual demand with forecasts to ensure you have the right materials in the right locations to satisfy your aggregated demand.
  • Advanced Order Management helps aggregate and stage shipments using just-in-time rules and algorithms​ and helps fulfill orders in the most efficient way using geographic location and shipping rules.
  • The planner workbench allows planners to focus on areas that require human intervention, implement alternative strategies, collaborate across all departments and continuously improve their plans​.​​

Smart Inventory Management

NetSuite provides automation that improves both supply chain efficiencies and customer satisfaction at the same time. NetSuite’s Advanced Order Management uses configurable business rules to automate the final step of getting the product to the customer at the right time. For every order that comes into the system, NetSuite analyzes key information to automatically execute the most efficient fulfillment scenario.

  • Automatically select the most efficient fulfillment location for orders utilizing global inventory availability as well as geographic location.
  • Using reallocation functionality, you can re-assign inventory to fulfill priority orders first.
  • Based on prioritization rules, NetSuite looks at inbound shipments that haven’t been received into stock yet and allocates inventory to open orders.

Streamline Execution

With NetSuite’s mobile functionality, users can complete production tasks directly from a mobile device, ensuring more accurate data entry and decreasing the time required to make, pick, pack and ship items.

  • The mobile solution allows you to update work orders directly from the mobile device and walks you through the process of picking the materials required for the build, and prompts the user for confirmation at each step with a scan to ensure data accuracy and record the actual production quantity.
  • The multi-order picking process feature can optimize order picking by allowing users to pick based on pre-defined waves to consolidate shipments. The mobile device item quantities are updated in real time as users scan bins while they pick.
  • With the Quality Management SuiteApp, users can now perform inspections prior to shipment to ensure that the goods going out meet quality guidelines.

What’s Next for NetSuite?

In the future, NetSuite’s allocation and fulfillment engine will be even more intelligent.

Utilizing machine learning, the system will identify strategies to optimize inventory allocation(opens in new tab) based on values like revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction and tactical time frames such as quarter or year end. This will reduce the problem of having too much inventory in some areas and too little supply in others.

The autonomous supply chain works across all functions of your supply chain, from planning to execution, to help you adapt to changing business environments. Using NetSuite’s intelligence and automation, “you’re better prepared to improve your processes and product flows, ensuring you deliver the right product, at the right time, at the right cost” Maready said.

NetSuite Now On Air presentations(opens in new tab) are scheduled throughout October. Simply register to view product keynotes, presentations and customer stories live or on demand.

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.