Manufacturers of consumer products — including packaged goods, food and beverages, and life sciences — face both opportunities and challenges. Product sales figures are on the rise, with the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector realizing 10% growth in 2023. But much of this growth can be attributed to price increases. Consumer companies also need to achieve volume growth.

However, a number of challenges stand in their way. First among these challenges is supply chain disruption. Whether caused by more frequent extreme weather events, blocked shipping routes and geopolitical events, or labor shortages, disruptions have the power to throw the most carefully defined demand and supply plans into disarray. We all know the frustration of knowing demand is out there — but simply being unable to move products from point A to point B to capture that revenue.

Equally frustrating for consumer products companies? Market volatility. Continuing inflation, unyielding interest rates and other economic trends affect consumers’ buying behaviors and preferences, sometimes in surprising ways. While some shoppers switch to private labels, others indulge in “little luxuries” during tough times. Adding to the confusion, robust job growth means many consumers have increased spending power. Consumer products manufacturers want nothing more than to accurately predict future demand. But the incredibly unpredictable nature of today’s business landscape, coupled with dynamic consumer behaviors, represent significant obstacles.

When market volatility and other disruptive forces cause consumer products companies to get the delicate demand-supply balance wrong, the costs are high. They can include product shortages, excess inventory, lost sales, markdowns, and damage to both retailer and consumer relationships. It’s never been more important to achieve accurate demand and supply plans, but it’s likely never been more difficult.

What can consumer products manufacturers do to achieve more certain supply chain performance — and financial results — amid all this uncertainty? The answer lies in achieving a more dynamic match of demand and supply via integrated planning processes, enabled by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

At Blue Yonder, we call this approach Integrated Demand and Supply Planning, and we’ve seen it create truly transformative results for our customers in consumer packaged goods, food and beverages, and life sciences.

Transformed Planning, for Transformative Results

What exactly is Integrated Demand and Supply Planning? It’s an approach that involves aligning supply chain functions across the value chain seamlessly with changes in market conditions, as well as eliminating functional siloes and replacing them with end-to-end planning orchestration. Achieving a unified demand and supply plan across the entire value network is at odds with the traditional siloed approach to supply chain management. But this more fluid, dynamic approach is quickly becoming imperative for manufacturers who want to weather the storm of constant disruptions and ongoing market volatility.

Processing demand information in near real time, at high levels of granularity — then dynamically and fluidly re-planning across the supply chain — requires a complete digital transformation. It demands the most advanced AI, ML, analytics, and a technology architecture that works in real time and can support massive computational needs. The great news is that Blue Yonder delivers all these capabilities, and we know exactly how to help your organization achieve this ambitious vision based on our work with consumer products companies.

How can you quickly digitize your demand and supply planning processes — while tightly integrating them for improved speed, agility and responsiveness? Blue Yonder offers three key advantages that drive a rapid transformation and an early return on investment:

  • Industry expertise. Many of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and life sciences companies rely on Blue Yonder solutions to power their demand and supply planning processes. Blue Yonder understands consumer products manufacturers’ real-world challenges, daily processes, and opportunities for revenue and margin growth. That means Blue Yonder can jump right in and start adding value, without a lengthy learning curve.
  • Preconfigured workflows for consumer products companies. Based on that deep industry experience, Blue Yonder has developed preconfigured workflows that not only result in a rapid solution launch but enable customers to capitalize on the full capabilities of our demand and supply planning solutions. We know the best practices that have enabled our customers to achieve a more accurate demand-supply match, even amid disruptions and volatility — and we can help customers enable those best practices in their own planning organization. By leveraging the preconfigured roles, workflows, analytics and decision insights customers can significantly reduce time to value (TTV) and implementation errors.
  • A composable architecture for a dramatic, but achievable, transformation. The days of investing in monolithic, disconnected, on-premises point solutions are over. Blue Yonder’s software architecture is based on cloud-native, composable solutions that deliver the robust power of advanced AI and ML in a way that’s easy and seamless to consume. Blue Yonder’s interoperable demand planning and supply planning solutions, residing on Luminate® Cognitive Platform and fed by the same data, create the ideal environment for Integrated Demand and Supply Planning. But they also become part of an extensible, flexible ecosystem that easily connects with other Blue Yonder solutions, third-party software, internal systems, and trading partner networks. For many customers, Integrated Demand and Supply Planning is the first step in a more far-reaching supply chain transformation.

Traditional Planning Approaches No Longer Apply

At Blue Yonder, the most common challenge we see in consumer products companies is that planners are still relying on outdated processes that are manual and slow-moving, which makes them ill-suited to today’s fast-moving, volatile market environment. They’re also using consumer-grade technology tools that aren’t built for the complexity of today’s supply chains — or the size, scale and real-time nature of modern data streams. And their planners are working in disconnected functional siloes that don’t enable shared real-time awareness and responsiveness.

Building resilience to today’s ever-changing, disruptive business landscape means integrating demand and supply planning at an unprecedented level. As market conditions shift in real time, supply planning and execution activities need to respond immediately. Static plans are no longer relevant. Neither are functional siloes, where planners focus myopically on their own priorities without seeing the bigger picture.

It might sound impossible to create a connected, real-time planning environment where demand and supply are seamlessly and dynamically matched, maximizing both cost and service outcomes. But Blue Yonder has already helped leading consumer products manufacturers achieve this vision, leading to improved forecast accuracy, on-time delivery, inventory turns, revenues and margins. The time is now to adapt your planning approach for today’s transformed world.

Ready to learn more about the promise of Integrated Demand and Supply Planning? Reach out to us today, or meet with us in person at the upcoming Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ 2024 conference in Orlando May 6-8, 2024.