Reuters Supply Chain Execution: 3 themes from leaders at Wayfair, Mondelēz, Pfizer, and others that your transportation team should be thinking about

Couldn’t attend Reuters Supply Chain Execution 2022 in Chicago? We’ve got you. 

On June 1 and 2, more than 800 Fortune 500 shippers, logistics providers, government officials, and industry heavyweights descended on Chicago to discuss how working together can help transform the industry by focusing on unlocking capacity, driving innovation, and revolutionizing supply chain execution. 

Convoy also attended, participating in a panel discussion on achieving sustainability goals and reducing waste in freight alongside Volvo Group and Bayer. When we weren’t discussing how the supply chain can help the planet, we were jotting down notes and taking names. We didn’t want to miss out on those insights, and we don’t want you to either. 

Across a jam-packed two days of panels and fireside chats, a few themes kept arising that we’re obsessing about at Convoy and believe other transportation teams should be too. 

No. 1: Achieving data visibility and the journey to digitization 

Every company aspires to have end-to-end visibility of their supply chain, and many Reuters attendees, like Wayfair, Bayer, and Mondelēz, have embarked on their journeys to get there. 

In his keynote, “From Cost Center to Brand Differentiator: Enhancing Efficiency & Speed in Logistics,” Sean Halligan, Wayfair’s global chief supply chain officer, shared his team’s ultimate goal: providing consumers at point of sale a 30-minute delivery window for two weeks out. The only way to reach this precise delivery experience is with full visibility, something they’re “constantly working on.” It starts with going digital. 

For Bayer, their digital transformation began six years ago, when the team started implementing a new transportation management system at remarkable scale — across 74 countries.

Facing a digital transformation project of similar scale? Johnny Ivanyi, global head of distribution at Bayer, shared his advice in “How Bayer’s Digital Transformation Journey Brings its Logistics Operations to the Next Level”: First, get your stakeholders engaged and leadership aligned. Break the larger project down into smaller chunks. And change management is hard, so keep people inspired. For instance, they created opportunities for employees to become “super-users,” who get to travel the world inspiring, teaching, and training their coworkers in other countries. 

For Mondelēz International, COVID accelerated their journey to digitization, recognizing that digitizing the supply chain helps unlock better quality data in real time. “It’s easier when you can see [the data] and react to it in real time,” said Andrea Turner, SVP of global customer service and logistics, “and that’s still a hurdle.” Andrea called for more data sharing across the industry in her interactive panel, appropriately named “Balancing Relationships and Technology in Logistics.”

“It’s great to have data, but it’s better to be able to partner with others to use their data too,” she said. “How do we really share that data? How do you move it together? Understanding truth is an opportunity in the collaboration space. That’s a daunting task among our providers.” 

No. 2: Building a more sustainable supply chain 

“The mentality has shifted,” said Perry Jones, president of North America Supply at Diageo. “How do we leave this Earth in a better position for the next generation? It’s a social responsibility, not an economic one.” 

Waste is a problem that every company has today – and must take action to solve. Leaders at Convoy, Bayer, and Volvo talked about how they’re working to be part of the solution, in their interactive panel called “Collaboration: The Path to Greater Success in Achieving Sustainability Goals & Reducing Waste in Freight.”

Ryan Gavin, chief growth officer at Convoy, cited that heavy trucks run 175 billion miles moving truckload freight in the U.S. every year. Of these, 61 billion are empty miles — miles driven by a truck without a load — that contribute more than 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually. Every year, 35% of all miles driven are empty miles.  

Gavin talked about how shippers partner with Convoy to reduce empty miles and achieve their sustainability goals: first, by bundling their shipments together for drivers, which reduces empty miles by 45%, from the industry standard of 35% to 19%. Also, shippers that can be flexible with their appointment windows help fit their shipments into carriers’ schedules, reducing carbon emissions by 36%. 

The industry can continue to make larger and more meaningful impacts for our planet by working together. 

“The one thing to take back is not to operate in a vacuum,” Jones said in “The Path to Net-Zero — The Role that Logistics Has to Play,” Diageo’s keynote. “There are partnerships out there, and people are willing to work with each other to solve this. We should be collaborating to get to a better outcome for that next generation. The folks in this room could lead that legacy.”

No. 3: Improving your supply chain resiliency

Dow Chemical, Pfizer, Cardinal Health, Macy’s, and others touched on resilience. In moderating the keynote, “Building Resilience, Agility and Sustainability into Your Global Supply Chain for a Better Customer Experience,” conference host Ryan Patel said resilience has become a buzzword. What does it actually mean?

Dow Chief Supply Chain Officer Greg Jozwiak started with a joke (“I wish I had a dime for every email I received offering me resiliency”) but went on to answer: “It’s about how fast you can recover and convert learnings from past events into your playbook. We will have disruptions. We don’t know what the next ones will be — hurricane season, floods, strikes, trade wars, wars. You can’t anticipate it, but you need a way to recover from it.” 

To be more resilient, Dow invested in its planning capabilities by creating playbooks that help everyone both tenured and new know what to do if a moment calls for a pivot. 

Others talked about being more resilient by avoiding single points of failure in their supply chain. In the keynote, “Resilient Network Design for Peak Season and Beyond,” Megan Evert, SVP of Operations at Flexe, recommended running an analysis to help identify and avoid any single point of failure to maintain business continuity. “All of your eggs in one basket is a huge risk to your network,” she said. “Find your plan Bs.” 

Others recommended avoiding single points of failure across the supply chain by diversifying networks and expanding provider bases.

In the keynote, “Drive Quick & Efficient Fulfillment in the Face of Unpredictability,” Jerry Mujica, VP of America’s Regional Supply Operations & Customer Support, says Pfizer manages two types of unpredictability: fluctuations in demand and routing challenges like weather or damaged products due to temperature sensitivity (you may recall Pfizer manufactures the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine). For the Pfizer transportation team, the key to resilience means working closely with their carrier partners to flex and reroute at a moment’s notice.

Here’s how we at Convoy are thinking about these three themes and how you can too

Achieving data visibility. Building a more sustainable supply chain. Improving your supply chain resiliency. 

At Convoy, we believe building resiliency into a transportation network centers around five operating principles, starting with two of our themes — visibility and sustainability — as well as reliability, flexibility, and efficiency.

We’re constantly working to deliver real-time visibility throughout the shipment lifecycle, most recently announcing on-demand access to next-gen facility insights to drive performance and control costs. Shippers partner with Convoy to reduce empty miles and achieve their sustainability targets — companies have saved more than 8 million pounds of carbon emissions by shipping with Convoy.

You don’t have to make trade-offs to get it all. It comes down to having a freight partner that can help you achieve all five, for optimal performance in any environment. Drop us a note if you would like to learn more, and let’s collaborate on making our supply chains as efficient as they possibly can be.

Amy Beth Frye
Amy is senior content marketing manager at Convoy. Prior to Convoy, she served in marketing or editorial at Hyatt Hotels, Coyote Logistics, Groupon, and The Knot weddings magazine. Amy received her journalism degree from Indiana University and digital publishing certificate from Columbia University. She lives in Chicago with her husband Luke and their black lab, Herbert.