In Search of the Optimal Supply Chain Network

6 min Read

E2net - the e2open supply chain network

How can your business gain a competitive advantage while navigating the complexities of ongoing supply chain disruptions? You find a supply chain network powerful enough to connect all your trading partners and logistics providers while reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction. But finding and implementing an optimal supply chain network for your business starts with understanding how a supply chain network works, how it can best work for you, and how it can help you to overcome complicated supply chain challenges.  

What is a supply chain network? 

A supply chain network is a complex network of tiers and ecosystems connecting individuals, organizations, resources, and technology. From the creation of the product to its sale, supply chain networks are designed to enable the precise delivery of products at a minimized cost while also ensuring customer satisfaction.  

Who takes part in a supply chain network? 

Supply chain networks are comprehensive, consisting of shareholders from every ecosystem and tier within the supply chain—ensuring the optimal flow of raw materials, goods, money, and information. The more complex the supply chain is, the more critical it is for businesses to establish solid relationships and utilize advanced software technology to foster collaboration and problem-solving.  

Supply chain network participants may include:  

  1. Suppliers 
  2. Manufacturers  
  3. Distributors 
  4. Retailers 
  5. Customers 
  6. Logistics Providers 
  7. Service Providers 
  8. Technology Providers 
  9. Financial Institutions 
  10. Regulatory Authorities  
  11. Information Systems 

Benefits of establishing a supply chain network 

The benefits of a supply chain network are impressive—from a more efficient and reliable partner network to a strategic, more cost-effective way to do business in today’s global market. While supply chain disruptions are an ongoing reality, an optimal network design can help minimize risks through enhanced collaboration with shareholders and allows companies to respond quickly to challenges that might impact on-time delivery and customer satisfaction. 

Improved partner collaboration 

On a fundamental yet powerful level, an optimal supply chain network facilitates improved partner communication for a clearer understanding of the particulars of your business. By connecting trading and logistics partners across all tiers and ecosystems, shareholders can access a single source of truth. This way, all partners can jointly anticipate supply chain fluctuations and communicate about available goods and delivery schedules. 

Increased efficiency 

Companies should be aware of the tremendous value of an efficient supply chain network. With a network, they can automate real-time data analysis, allowing stakeholders to anticipate delays in sourcing raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation—giving businesses enough time to schedule alternative plans, like engaging backup suppliers, to prevent further delays.   

Cost savings  

An optimal supply chain network helps your organization balance purchasing, inventory carrying, facilities, and transportation costs while simultaneously avoiding risks through improved process efficiencies and real-time monitoring and tracking. Additionally, collaboration within the network also impacts cost savings through sharing and connecting data efficiently.  

Enhanced customer service 

Operational excellence goes a long way toward building an elevated customer experience that promotes loyalty and customer satisfaction. When companies leverage channel and planning applications together, they have access to clean demand data and reliable forecasting algorithms. These aid in planning for an optimized supply chain flow with a greater ability to react quickly to minimize disruptions and, ultimately, improve client relationships. Read how channel and planning applications are driving customer satisfaction. 

 Competitive advantage  

No matter what your strategic goals, an optimal supply chain network gives your business a competitive edge by leveraging technological tools, machine learning, and relationships to streamline the flow of goods and services from suppliers to customers. 

Advantages of an open supply chain network 

There are two kinds of supply chain networks—open and private.  

Private supply chain networks 

Organizations that establish private or independent supply chain networks rely on technology that narrowly focuses on internal processes. Additionally, private networks may not allow access or visibility into the connections needed to expand into larger partner networks. This siloed, limited perspective leaves companies exposed to risk and unable to leverage new opportunities to stay competitive. 

Open supply chain networks 

Open supply chain networks powerfully connect an entire community of trading partners to exchange information, collaborate securely in real-time, improve service, and build effective business partner relationships. Network participants can leverage their shared connections to identify new growth opportunities and avoid unnecessary risks.  

Benefits of e2net 

With over 450,000 manufacturing, logistics, and distribution partners, e2open’s open partner network, e2net, is one of the world’s largest supply chain networks. Across ecosystems and between parties, e2net orchestrates end-to-end alignment, visibility, and responsiveness. With a scalable, multi-enterprise, cloud-based network, e2net empowers businesses to connect all trading partners across all tiers and ecosystems while identifying new opportunities outside the four walls of your enterprise. 

Network of networks  

E2net’s vast supply chain network works with a digital twin model of your business’ physical network to help achieve greater resiliency through bi-directional visibility and insights—leading to a smoother flow of goods across all ecosystems. You can “connect once and reuse” with e2open reusable connections that reach 100% of your partners, regardless of whether they are directly or indirectly accessible.  

Real-time messaging  

Access to real-time information is critical for businesses to respond to any supply chain disruption. E2net’s real-time messaging processes and delivers messages to partners quickly with minimal queuing. This includes large files from customers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that are reliably delivered via e2open cloud-based applications. 

Cloud-based SaaS model  

E2net provides B2B integration capabilities in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, helping businesses reduce cost of ownership and IT complexity by outsourcing B2B connectivity to e2open. Quarterly software upgrades ensure all customers benefit from continuous innovation and improvements on the network. 

Highly available and scalable network 

With a three nines (99.9%) uptime service level agreement, e2net is also backed up by a secondary data center failover infrastructure. This means you have opportunities to grow your network with confidence as you add trading partners.  

Proactive alerts and transparency 

With proactive alerts and transparency built-in, e2net’s secure web-based console gives users and trading partners access to audit information regarding their transactions. Users can subscribe to email alerts, or system notifications can be sent to customer telemetry systems.  

Exploring the power of an open supply chain network  

When you implement e2net’s open supply chain network, you harness powerful tools that create greater efficiencies, save money, and help streamline how your business runs. 

  • Increased collaboration – E2net elevates communication between all partners in your network, allowing for increased collaboration to help solve potential disruptions before they start.  
  • Enhanced flexibility – Ongoing supply chain disruptions mean flexibility is more critical than ever before. With e2net’s open network, stakeholders have the tools and information to adapt quickly and easily to changes needed for on-time deliveries.  
  • Expanded network – Continued business growth means an even greater need for an expanded network. E2net’s vast network spans all ecosystems: downstream channel partners, upstream supply partners, logistics partners for moving goods, and global trade partners for crossing borders. 
  • Agility and resilience Disruptions can cost your business thousands of dollars and throw your entire supply chain out of sync or worse, grind it to a halt. The data-driven open network of e2net allows you to react quickly and plan ahead of disruptions or delays for stronger resiliency.   
  • Cost optimization – To help manage the rising costs of all aspects of the supply chain, e2net helps companies automate the harmonizing, cleansing, and enriching of data. E2net’s data analytics provides users with decision-grade data to identify new savings opportunities around sourcing, transportation, duty, and tax.  
  • Demand visibility – Planning strategies are easier and more efficient to manage with e2net’s planning applications. They give you greater visibility into supply and demand sensing to help you anticipate and plan for customers’ needs. Read more about leveraging clean data and reliable forecasting to predict demand.
  • Scalability – No matter how industries grow and change, e2net’s open supply chain network is designed to help you scale your transportation, manufacturing, compliance, inventory, and fulfillment needs to strategically meet your business goals.  

E2net gives companies the opportunity to work collaboratively with an expansive network of trading partners to effectively bring products to market faster, with lower costs and lower risks.  

Overcoming challenges in supply chain network management 

 A few years ago, the average person didn’t think much about supply chains and how it affects their day to day lives, but the global pandemic changed all that. The paper product aisle in stores was empty, and manufacturers couldn’t access the vital resources they needed, like lumber or semiconductors. Prices rose, as did labor shortages. Ports were congested as many businesses struggled to stay open. And before long, supply chain disruptions were on everyone’s mind. 

With or without a global pandemic, concerns about how and when consumers receive goods remain a daily challenge for supply chain network management, primarily due to: 

  1. Lack of visibility 
  2. Distribution planning 
  3. Lead time variability 
  4. Compliance  
  5. Unforeseen demand 
  6. Limited logistics capacity 
  7.  Raw material shortages 
  8.  Stricter environmental and labor regulations 
  9. Economic uncertainties 
  10. Unexpected delays 
  11. Increase in costs associated with raw materials, energy, transportation, and labor 
  12. Ripple effects from global bottlenecks  
  13. Outmoded logistics infrastructure  
  14. Labor strikes 

No matter what the challenge, there’s a strategic advantage in implementing an advanced network design that provides: 

  • Increased software automation 
  • A collaborative partner network 
  • Greater end-to-end process visibility through tracking and monitoring 

With an open supply chain network, the data analysis enables effective control over the process for greater customer satisfaction.  

Future trends in supply chain network optimization 

Trendwatchers forecast the future of supply chain networks by keeping a close eye on the trends that can empower organizations to create next-level optimization through the latest tech. 

E2open stays ahead of industry-wide trends with solutions that rethink how supply chains are managed –allowing for minimized risk and inefficiencies throughout the supply chain.  

  • Digital twin – Through a canonical-based integrated data model (IDM), e2net helps you run through hypothetical scenarios to determine supply chain optimization that reduces costs and minimizes risk. 
  • Resilient and agile network – E2net’s unifying, end-to-end, cloud-native software helps businesses to monitor, track, and manage all phases of supply chain productivity in real-time while mitigating risk.  
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) This integrated data model is the foundation for e2open’s unified platform—harmonizing, cleansing, and enriching data from all your supply chain ecosystems with decision-grade automation. 

Get started with an open supply chain network 

Staying ahead of supply chain challenges while cultivating a competitive edge is more necessary than ever before. With e2net’s unifying, end-to-end, cloud-native technology platform and interconnected network of manufacturing, logistics, and distribution partners, you can transform how you manage your supply chain while streamlining the way you do business. Having e2net’s real-time data metrics at your fingertips empowers you to exchange information and work collaboratively and securely with all trading partners. 

Wherever you are in your supply chain journey, e2open’s strategic platform can help you meet your business goals through digital transformation.  

Are you interested in learning more? Contact us for a demo or to speak with one of our global trade experts.  

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