To stay ahead of the trends—and ahead of the competition—many shipping managers are seeking to upgrade their company’s warehouse technology. In fact, 80% of shippers cite the need for new technology as a challenge in their workplace. However, only 16% of companies have multiyear strategies in place to achieve supply chain excellence.
Even when shipping teams know that a tech upgrade will improve operations and have created a plan for implementation, they may struggle to present their ideas to the executive team. To bring about the changes you’re considering, you must first learn how to effectively communicate with these top decision-makers.
Read through the three tips below to help you make the best business case for warehouse technology upgrades.
Speak in a way that will resonate with executives. 1
Whether you’re hoping to upgrade your warehousing technology to fix specific supply chain problems interfering with day-to-day operations or simply want to help ensure your business can stand out from the competition, it’s crucial to communicate with executives in a way that will resonate, speaking to issues important to them. This will help encourage your higher-ups to further explore the tech upgrades you’re proposing and will instill confidence in your ability to lead the change.
Supply chain and logistics managers are more than twice as likely as directors to describe themselves as “analytic.” While to you, it may seem most logical to point to numbers-based data and lay out very detail-oriented, supply chain-based arguments, executives tend to think in less technical terms.
Use business-oriented phrasing that will grab their attention.
Focus on return on investment (ROI) and broader value propositions, and remember: While it may seem intimidating pitching a tech upgrade to your higher-ups, keep in mind that you all have the same overarching goals—to improve company operations while ensuring success for your team members and the company as a whole as you move into the future.
Spend some time practicing your pitch and write down any questions executives may have. Laying out how you will address any concerns and familiarizing yourself with key financial concepts will help you feel confident and prepared as you step into meetings.
Emphasize big‑picture gains. 2
In today’s complex marketplace, supply chains are no longer thought of solely in terms of procurement and logistics, and many executives are well aware of the importance of end-to-end optimization.
A holistic approach is paramount to supply chain success. So, when approaching your company’s executives, emphasize the value that a technologically sophisticated, well-managed supply chain can provide to all shareholders, rather than just the ways it can be used to control costs. Framing your argument in strategic terms will be most effective when speaking with the executive team.
Warehouse tech upgrades can boost a company’s bottom line in more ways than one.
These transformations can improve customer experience, enhance end-to-end visibility, offer real-time data, boost brand reputation, improve regulatory compliance and help mitigate risk.
Speak to these benefits in business-centric terms, citing easy-to-understand, real-world examples whenever possible that show how the upgrades will help. It’s easy for executives to dismiss opinions and speculations but illuminating case studies and industry success stories—including competitors’—are harder to argue with.
Unfortunately, many executives are still unaware of the significant role supply chains play in business. In one study of 50 private equity firms, executives ranked supply chain functions as “relatively unimportant” in terms of driving revenue and growth. This is a missed opportunity.
As e-commerce and consumer technology continue to alter the business landscape, warehousing operations must not just keep up, but adapt. The most successful companies will implement solutions that allow them to stay nimble far into the future, and executives are always thinking ahead; emphasizing the big-picture points above will help drive your case home.
Focus on customer experience improvements. 3
When pitching warehouse upgrades, using business-oriented, big-picture lingo is important, but it’s also crucial to zero in on specific concerns. You may be focused mainly on the technical supply chain issues disrupting your workers’ day-to-day duties, but company decision-makers typically have different concerns.
Executives will be more interested in how an upgrade could improve customer experience.
With reverse logistics playing an increasingly important role in supply chains, excellent customer service is no longer just an option—it’s a necessity to continue thriving in today’s ever-shifting retail landscape. Today’s customers expect transparent and easy communication, quick, efficient fulfillment and seamless returns. By streamlining processes, reducing overhead and harnessing the power of data, warehouse tech upgrades can help your company remain relevant in minds of today’s savvy consumers.
In one survey of U.S. shoppers, more than half of respondents said that just one bad experience with a brand would stop them from returning.
When meeting with the executive team, explain clearly how the upgrades would enhance the customer experience—and, ultimately, what that means for the bottom line.
Creating a Future-Forward Warehouse
As supply chains become increasingly complex, warehouse technology upgrades become increasingly important. But before any changes can be implemented, the executive team must be on board and in full support of the transformation.
Speaking in business-oriented language that resonates with executives will strengthen your argument from the get-go, and specifically emphasizing big-picture gains will help grab their attention. Finally, remember to show the long-term value of the transformation by focusing on customer experience enhancements.
Keeping these simple tips in mind will help you feel informed and prepared as you approach your higher-ups, increasing your chances of achieving a warehouse tech upgrade that will keep your company nimble, competitive and future-ready.
- “Warehouse of the Future,” SIS International Market Research, 2019.
- “Driving Shareholder Value with Your Supply Chain: Insights to Help Unlock Value Across Your Supply Chain for Competitive Advantage,” Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, sponsored by Maine Pointe, April 2019.
- USPS proprietary research, 2019.
- “2018 Private Equity Survey,” Maine Pointe, April-May 2018.
- “Experience is the new loyalty,” Klarna, Aug. 2019, as cited by Lucy Koch, “More Than Half of US Shoppers Will Abandon a Brand Following a Bad Experience,” eMarketer, Jul. 28, 2019.