How a small chocolate business is unwrapping the importance of digital supply chain management

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Sophie Jewett, Managing Director of York Cocoa House. Pic: York Cocoa House
Sophie Jewett, Managing Director of York Cocoa House. Pic: York Cocoa House

Related tags Supply chain Supply chain management Food safety

York Cocoa House, like many confectionery businesses, has taken steps to diversify its supply chain to combat recent and future market uncertainty.

The company operates from a small retail space in the city centre and imports most of its cocoa beans from Latin America. It works with farmers and traders directly to create shorter supply chains to establish direct trade transparency, increasing shared value along the production process.

Sophie Jewett, Managing Director of York Cocoa House says: “As a confectionery business we are focused on the celebratory moments of indulgence for our customers but we must increasingly consider agility, waste and rapidly pivot for seasonal and changing consumer demands. It’s essential to focus on value added activity and to consider resources wisely and being able to work with effective and reliable data to make smarter strategic decisions, save costs and identify emerging trends as quickly as possible​.”

But without a strategy to manage this shift to a diverse number of new suppliers in the day-to-day operation of their networks, businesses potentially face more confusion, instead of increased flexibility, says industry logistics expert. Saurabh Goyal from Phlo Systems.

Getting on the right track following the last few months of crises requires purging any business practices that prevent quick response to volatility – such as addressing the use of clunky legacy systems, like Excel spreadsheets, filled with outdated data.

“Messy data has become a weed that many businesses have grown accustomed to, but by adopting a digital transformation strategy, they can turn those neglected weeds into a lush garden of supply chain opportunity​.”

He says that once companies have started to do this they can then move onto stage two of their digital transformation and begin fine-tuning better data into actionable business insights. This can be done by aligning data on suppliers, customers, processes and technology all in the same place to create advanced predictive analysis.

Jewett agrees: “Managing differing and sometimes outdated supply chain systems are part of the growth phase challenges of startup businesses. Particularly when technology and consumer demands require innovative approaches that are often not compatible with the status quo. Businesses can quickly find themselves using tools that are not fit for purpose that need to be able to evolve with them​.”

Her company has been working with Phlo Systems and says “its understanding of the confectionery businesses is far more effective and allows for easier tracking of data from beginning to end.”

She says in today’s world and operating online, York Cocoa House has to be a 24/7 business that can engage in multiple geographies … “finding effective, timely and reliable ways to record, store and share information throughout the product life cycle is becoming more and more critical​.”

Goyal says: “Digitising the international supply chain is very much like turning it into a digital Swiss army knife – the right tools at the right time – to cut through the uncertainty and react with synchronised agility that can quickly balance cost and variability in the face of real-time demand. Your business can even action corrections at the touch of a button.

“The ability to pivot your approach with live data is an essential component to diversifying your supply chain so, if one supplier falls short, you can shift your approach quickly to remain ahead of the game.”

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