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July 1, 2021

Partnering with an Intelligent Supply Chain

Mark Pinard

The COVID-19 pandemic gave supply chain transformation a new urgency. Despite strong technological investments, companies around the world experienced shortages, bottlenecks and delays as they struggled to adapt to rapidly changing consumer demand patterns. Companies are increasingly looking for ways to adopt robust supply chains not just in core business activities, but in partner services as well. While no supply chain is 100% disaster proof, partnering with companies who have adopted intelligent supply chain management practices can help you gain ROI, while making you less susceptible to future disruptions.

What is an Intelligent Supply Chain?

An intelligent supply chain is a supply chain that is continuously optimized for efficiency, using cutting edge tech, realtime data, and a robust network of suppliers with redundant capacity. Intelligent supply chain management harnesses technology like AI, machine learning, and IoT to govern a distributed manufacturing network, accelerating production and delivery, cutting costs, and eliminating waste and bottlenecks throughout the supply chain.

How Can I Benefit From an Intelligent Supply Chain?

For companies in industries like logistics, manufacturing, and retail, optimizing the supply chain directly is a high priority. However, for many businesses, the most lucrative opportunities to improve your supply chain is to benefit from a partner’s investments. By integrating with partners who have already put the work into their own supply chains, you can turn modest investments into tremendous gains.

To do this, you need to direct your investments into your business workflow and the software that runs it, rather than your supply chain itself. Modest investments in internal optimization enable you to integrate with your partner’s services, using their APIs and webhooks to maximize your existing tech investments. You can achieve faster delivery, better metrics, and automation that would be very difficult to establish in-house. Additionally, these services give you more value from future tech investments so you can focus on pushing the limits of technology, not catching up. 

How Lob’s Supply Chain Can Help Your Business

To serve our partners, Lob has built the most comprehensive direct mail supply chain in the industry, utilizing a nationwide network of print partners distributed across the United States. When a customer sends a mailpiece, our automated system chooses the right printer for the job, using multiple factors such as type of mail piece, origin and destination. This ensures that mailings are printed as close as possible to their destination, leading to quicker delivery without sacrificing quality or affordability. 

Our system also provides built-in redundancy that is not available for companies handling their printing in-house, or in the context of traditional print vendor relationships. In a traditional printer relationship, the client must negotiate individually with the printer for each job. If your printer is at capacity or you need to scale up quickly, you only have two choices: negotiate with a brand new printer, or wait.

Companies that handle direct mail production in-house are even more restricted. When they run into unexpected problems like equipment failure or IT issues, they have no printer relationships to fall back on. This can lead to prolonged delays as their printing equipment is repaired or replaced and their team struggles to get caught up.

Lob’s system avoids these problems by providing a network of vetted printers with plenty of spare capacity. All the vendor management is handled by us, enabling you to send out direct mail without hassles, delays or cost overruns. Scaling up is effortless, whether you’re sending out 100 mailings or 100,000; our network continuously analyzes production loads at all partner printers and balances volume to efficiently handle the work for your company — no hassles, no delays.

Building on a Solid Foundation

All of this productivity depends on our sophisticated ability to track mailpieces from upload through delivery, which benefits you directly. Our automatic address verification and delivery confirmation make your direct mail program every bit as reliable as digital channels like email. You can even take advantage of direct ROI attribution, giving customers URLS or scannable codes so you can see who is taking advantage of your offers. 

Our tools also enable you to fully integrate direct mail into your digital workflows, which means you can employ omni-channel communication, speaking in one voice across both digital and analog channels. 

We also empower your team to automate sending based on customer actions, dates and other triggers. You can A/B test, and customize mail in any way you see fit — just like you do with digital channels. You can even build on top of our platform, utilizing our robust supply chain and metrics to develop your own cutting-edge applications. 

To learn more about how Lob’s print network can help your company, check out our free ebook, Modernizing the Direct Mail Process