E-commerce driving supply-chain complexity

Logistics concept

E-commerce is forcing supply chains to get smart to cope with rising demand, logistics industry veteran Ingilby Dickson told Logistics & Materials Handling.

“Online offers can’t work without slick and smart supply chains,” he said. “As such, planning has stepped up to be critical in delivering customer-driven outcomes.”

He added that cost-to-serve understanding and technology – whereby business costs are used to calculate the cost of servicing a customer – are not just enablers, but core engine room–driven processes.

“These are in strong demand for the new omnichannel and/or direct online offers, to make commercial sense and create strong customer loyalty,” he said.

Dickson’s industry expertise has been gained over a career working for various major corporations including BlueScope Steel, Goodman Fielder and TNT. He now stands on the Boards of various large organisations in Australia.

Ingilby Dickson.
Ingilby Dickson.

He tells Logistics & Materials Handling that his first exposure to logistics processes happened far from a warehouse. “It all started in the military, with a focus on planning-driven processes to get equipment, food and weapons to the front line” he said. “It was far more than transport, it was true end-to-end accountability.”

Over his career, Dickson has seen the term ‘logistics’ expand to encompass supply chain functions such as inventory, cost, service, and also the horizontal accountability across organisations between sales, and manufacturing and distribution. “It’s now a focus on constraint-based optimisation for the net benefit of the whole organisation,” he said. “The result is that ‘supply chain and logistics’ is now recognised as an important and necessary function in all modern business practices.”

As the logistics task has become more sophisticated, so too have the skills required to lead the business function, said Dickson. “The required leadership qualities have changed considerably,” he added. “Senior supply chain managers now need skills to coordinate and plan across a business and be able to manage internal conflict to ensure customers and shareholders win.

“As such, smart and astute leaders with strong commercial skills are needed – leaders of supply chains need to have courage to challenge across a business and lead the best whole-of-business outcomes.”

Dickson is passionate about sharing his expertise at industry knowledge sharing sessions, such as the Supply Chain Leader Insights events, held this year in Melbourne (17 October) and Sydney (19 October).

“Events like Supply Chain Leader Insights are crucial as we need our leaders to share and help others in traditionally thinking organisations see the light in order to drive supply-chain improvements,” he said.

Find out more about the Supply Chain Leader Insights events, book tickets ($57 using the promo code ‘LMH’) and see videos from last year’s event at the Supply Chain Logistics Insight website.