RELEX celebrated its 10th anniversary on January 28th, 2016 with a special international seminar and party.

Hundreds of supply chain professionals from across Europe, North America and Africa gathered at Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall to hear experts in the field share their thoughts on the future of supply chain management.

George Lawrie, Forrester Research’s Vice President and Principal Analyst, gave the afternoon’s first keynote and offered three principal takeaways; ‘Upgrade to a component view of demand’, ‘implement a dynamic inventory model’ and ‘shorten distance between inventory and customer’.

Referring to his own research he argued that innovations that push up the level of customer service through supply chain efficiency quickly become a general expectation. One example was the way that customers had become conditioned to pay a premium for near-instant order fulfilment. “What interested us was to see how keen people were to get their hands on an item within 60 minutes because of the immediacy of their lives,” he told the delegates.

His thoughts were echoed by another speaker, Vicky Kay, Head of Commercial Operations and Supply at ao.com. “What five years ago was a wow today is simply expected,” she said in a presentation that touched on how the etailer had sought to exert control over the last mile to improve its customer service. “We even had cranes to lift range stoves into customers’ basements,” she said highlighting ao.com’s focus on customer experience.

George Lawrie, Forrester Research’s Vice President and Principal Analyst.

Vicky Kay, Head of Commercial Operations and Supply at ao.com.

Another RELEX customer that has taken a similar approach is South Africa’s leading etailer takealot.com. It partnered with and later acquired Mr Delivery, originally a fast food delivery service, in order to improve its delivery in main centres. “It’s all about fulfilment,” said Takealot’s Retail Division Manager Rozanne Truter.

Tuomas Brunou, Planning Manager of wholesaler Tuko Logistics and Anne-Mari Paapio, Vice President, Commercial of convenience store network Suomen Lähikauppa gave an overview of their work together on the world’s most advanced experiment with Vendor Managed Inventory.

“With only one or two staff on shift in our stores it can take a lot of time for store staff to place orders,” explained Anne-Mari Paapio. “Now that we have RELEX our store staff can focus on the essentials – the customer.”

Tuomas Brunou explained that the collaboration is of as much value to the wholesaler as the retailer. “We have 360 degree visibility inside the stores and are able to provide 360 degree visibility to suppliers,” he said. “We can predict demand and plan our purchases from suppliers much more accurately, optimise the stock values and such.”

Mari Nenonen, Supply Chain Manager of Marimekko and Elina Haavisto, Head of Business Control and Planning of Lumene gave presentations about managing complex international supply chains.

Mari Nenonen talked about Marimekko’s global supply chain and how they have centralised their planning from stores to their headquarters and market specific planners. As a result, Marimekko has witnessed significant savings in working hours, lower inventory levels in stores and less out-of-stocks.

Elina Haavisto from Lumene discussed their S&OP ambition and how they improved planning accuracy, stability in production planning, and work efficiency through automation. The company has also seen hard business results, for example better availability of products and 30% reduction in stock value after renewing their S&OP planning process and implementing RELEX.

Tuomas Brunou, Planning Manager, Tuko Logistics and Anne-Mari Paapio, Vice President, Commercial, Suomen Lähikauppa.

Elina Haavisto, Head of Business Control and Planning, Lumene.

RELEX group CEO Mikko Kärkkäinen’s contribution to the seminar focused on the growing importance of recruiting new talent, of In-Memory Computing and of the cloud to the future of the supply chain. It was a presentation that was widely referenced by delegates during the afternoon’s networking sessions.

“It was great to be part of such a lively discussion,” said Kärkkäinen. ‘It was the perfect way to mark 10 years of RELEX. I wouldn’t have dared predict that we would come so far in so short a time, and it makes me wonder where RELEX will be at 20. It’s going to be an exciting journey.”
 

The seminar was followed by an evening celebration attended by RELEX employees, delegates and their guests.