No matter how slick an ecommerce site looks; how cool its products are; how creative and clever the content reads, behind all storefronts is the messy and complicated network of wires that connect supply chains, inventory, and distribution.
And it’s behind the storefront where bottlenecks emerge and weak links let retailers and brands down. The pandemic has exacerbated the disruptions that come with heavier traffic and greater wants from consumers that puts pressure on supply chains that can be slow to respond.
Staff shortages in warehouses supplying products to both physical stores and online stores; limited staff working in-store who stack shelves with fewer supplies – its been overwhelming for all those involved.
But some companies have been able to swiftly, and comprehensively, shift their operations by modernizing its route to reach the market.
One of these is Land O’Lakes, a member-owned agriculture cooperative based out of Minneapolis, which has a heavy focus on dairy (who hasn’t had Land O’Lakes butter?). The year 2021 will be its centenary while its revenue streams bring in around $15 billion annually.
Land O’Lakes have managed to move fast, especially because it is core to the food and agriculture sector – one of the most important sectors of the economy in calmer times and even acutely more so during times of crises. It was able to transform its global network and nurture growth.
But how did they do it?
In short, they built an agile supply chain with Salesforce’s MulseSoft to connect data in real time across the entire landscape – from shipping and distribution to employees and customers. They don’t only operate across the US but in more than 60 other countries, so their supply chains are long and complex.
Figuring out where in their network the issues were located became a priority: locating areas with big surpluses, those with shortages, and addressing their sales team that had been used to dealing with clients face-to-face.
MuleSoft is Salesforce’s integration platform that makes it easy to connect all sorts of data across systems and devices with APIs, ensuring that they all talk to each other. This broader view is equipped with customer data insights and analytical tools to craft better corrected online customer experiences.
And because all these data stores talk to each other in real time, Land O’Lakes can inform their partners about stock changes, supply movement, and with their customers about shipping updates.
And equally as important, Land O’Lakes took all of these and made the whole customer process easier by growing its B2B into an online shop. Self-service and online ordering capabilities were added.
And they’re also seeing the benefits of its switch to Salesforce: API development productivity has increased 25%. Plus its supply chain now makes up 50% of all its API transaction volume.
“Boosting supplier and customer loyalty and resilience are pivotal to ensuring business continuity in a post-COVID-19 world,” said Teddy Bekele, chief technology officer of Land O’Lakes. “Salesforce and MuleSoft have helped us do just that, increasing agility in our supply chain to ensure that goods consistently arrive on time and that our customers are notified of their purchase progress.”
And Land O’Lakes chief information officer, Marc Carlson, added that: “This information also gives our marketing teams the opportunity for more personalization and intelligence, ensuring that every customer receives the right products and promotions to create a win-win for our brand as well as our stakeholders. So, investing in these new digital capabilities is really driving engagement right across our value chain.”
It’s a smart move by Land O’Lakes: they would have browsed around and done their research before they went with Salesforce. Not that Salesforce has so many competitors that are able to keep up with its highly scalability and adeptness for dealing with high-volume sales. It’s just that it’s a big undertaking to transform any company’s supply chains during a time when supply chains ought to be running at 100% with as little interruption as possible.
And they would have gone through each of the capabilities of Salesforce, which when looked at holistically, has the advantage of being a big happy cloud family that includes Salesforce Commerce Cloud (the ecommerce platform of choice for so many of the world’s leading brands), Salesforce Marketing Cloud, (which provides advanced services for digital marketing and analytics; oh and it’s also known by its other name of Pardot).
The point being: once you’ve stepped into the Salesforce universe, it becomes relatively easy to integrate one Salesforce platform with another, unifying all points of data from your manufacturer to your customers, all in real time, and all capable of being filtered into insightful data for creative and personal marketing campaigns and heightened digital experiences. The possibilities of what you are able to do become greater, far beyond simply the total sum of all its parts.
Put another way, Land O’Lakes – already a leader in its industry – has stepped up into the ecommerce platform big leagues (it’s like if England’s best soccer team, hypothetically, let’s say Liverpool, were to sign the world’s best manager to oversee such a beautiful and historic sports club). Land O’Lakes has doubled down its dominance in dairy (the 4 Ds).
And aside from its fresh partnership with Salesforce, I personally like the setup of Land O’Lakes as a member-owned cooperative; that all those directly involved in the business are also the ones that are taking the decisions, collectively. And given that it’s one of the largest cooperatives in the country, and finds itself as number 212 on the Fortune 500, their business model seems dairy successful – now that’s a lot of cream on top!