Consumer product manufacturers encountered unprecedented demands during the pandemic. The normal challenges of monitoring unpredictable demand, product complexity, and multiple sales channels magnified as the pandemic took hold.

These companies soon discovered that navigating volatility and rapid market changes requires an agile and resilient supply chain. They learned that using a unified, end-to-end supply chain planning platform increases forecast accuracy, optimizes inventory levels, improves sustainability, and boosts overall supply chain performance.

The John Galt whitepaper, “Four Planning Imperatives for Consumer Packaged Goods Supply Chains,” shares how leveraging technology to advance four key supply chain areas can help companies operate more agile, sustainable supply chains that adapt quicker and outperform competitors—even during disruption.

#1 Product Life Cycle Management

Consumer product manufacturers must manage product life cycles from design to disposal even during a pandemic. The companies unveil new products, streamline products, and tweak existing ones amid markets rife with continuous supply chain shocks. The better that companies manage uncertainty, the more profitable they become.

Companies that advance demand forecasting capabilities with digital tools can leverage information to identify shifts in consumer buying behaviors, demand, and preferences. With this knowledge in hand, they make more informed decisions and rapidly shift gears in response to market changes.

Product life cycle management software helps consumer product manufacturers measure portfolio growth, development, and maturity. Digital tools that use AI and machine learning sense demand shifts earlier. Companies that combine deeper insights with improved collaboration between sales and marketing fully understand consumer demand.

#2 Portfolio Complexity and Uncertainty

The pandemic accelerates the digital economy and puts pressure on consumer product manufacturers to improve their management of complex product portfolios. Companies must support changing consumer behaviors and market competition as they impact the speed of product launches, retirements, and substitutions.

In this climate, consumer product manufacturers require life-cycle management capabilities that summarize key indicators of product status at different stages of the manufacturing process. Companies must engage in precise planning that uses simulation and optimization capabilities. Consumer product manufacturers also must consider tightening budgets, shifting consumer demand, and new shopping channels.

Digital tools help consumer product manufacturers expect and plan for short- and long-term changes in demand. The tools provide visibility into consumer behavior shifts that helps companies better model new product introductions, improve forecast accuracy, streamline and align sales and operations planning, manage omnichannel strategies, and optimize their inventory

#3 Demand Forecasting

The pandemic also alters how, when and where consumers shop, and what they buy. These shifts make it difficult for companies to rely on planning based on earlier selling periods.

Consumer product manufacturers must be able to detect market shifts during disruption to react faster, reduce risk, and increase reaction speeds for replenishment. External data signals from sources, such as POS (Point of Sale), distributors, weather, and the IoT, offer visibility into patterns and shifts in consumer behavior.

Using digital tools helps companies review all data signals to sense demand and supply changes quicker. Technology allows manufacturers to run real-time, fact-based scenarios that test and evaluate a range of possibilities in a specific combination of trigger events. These “what if” scenarios help companies make confident decisions during disruption.

#4 Sustainability

Sustainability and the circular economy also impact consumer product supply chains. Many investors now require full disclosure on a company’s environmental, social and governance performance. Consumers seek companies that use recycled content in their products and focus on the recyclability of products at the end of their life cycle.

As consumers gain in sustainability awareness, companies must tweak their network designs to align networks with sustainability KPIs. Digital tools help consumer product manufacturers evaluate how they can optimize their supply chains for greater sustainability and improves their ability to report on emissions generated across their supply chains. These tools remove waste by maximizing shelf life and eliminating wasteful overstocks and identifying efficient routes and delivery options.

Learn how digital tools, like Atlas Planning Platform, can boost your company’s ability to manage increasing volatility and pain points in the consumer products supply chain in the John Galt whitepaper, “How to Deal with Increasing Volatility and Pain Points in the Consumer Products Supply Chain.” Click here to download the whitepaper.