Sector Spotlight: Supply Chain Software

Pandemics, shutdowns, and shortages have magnified the importance of software and data-driven supply chains that are efficient, collaborative, and flexible. Across industries and geographies, digital transformation initiatives are accelerating as organizations work to build greater agility and resilience into their supply chains. While challenging, such market conditions are ideal for supply chain and logistics software providers.  

Here, professionals from the Harris Williams Technology Group and the Transportation and Logistics Group share their thoughts on why the supply chain and logistics software sector is appealing to buyers and investors, how our recent client Bamboo Rose exemplifies the investment opportunity within the sector, and what investors should look for in potential assets.

Why is supply chain software appealing to buyers and investors?

The complex global trade environment, increasing frequency of supply chain shocks, greater emphasis on sustainability, and heightened geopolitical uncertainty are highlighting the need for companies to make significant technological investments to build more resilient, agile, and collaborative supply chains. According to Andy Leed, a managing director in the Technology Group, the legacy technologies on which many companies depend on cannot provide the visibility and data that organizations need in today’s environment. “Companies are seeking surety of supply. They need the flexibility to source from others if a disruption occurs within a supplier or geography. They want to know they can deliver goods on time and on budget, and they need visibility into their supply chains to make that happen,” he says.   

Another reason: Visibility into the origin and movement of goods, and traceability throughout the supply chain, are becoming board-level priorities, in part due to increasing focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. “Companies are being much more conscious of sustainable supply chains,” says Erik Szyndlar, a managing director in the Technology Group. “Who are their suppliers? What type of materials are they using and where are they sourcing goods from?” Stakeholders and consumers alike want assurances of social and environmental responsibility and compliance, which requires the ability to trace, and report on, sourcing and product movement deep within one’s supply chain.  

In addition, the retail industry has several unique challenges that require supply chain software investment. For example, the explosion of e-commerce and omnichannel retailing is forcing retailers to reshape their order management, supply chain, and service capabilities. Constantly evolving consumer preferences are making retailers and brands invest in technology to become more agile and coordinated within their product design, sourcing, and logistics processes.  

Sylvain Noblet, a director in the Technology Group, points to growing consumer interest in private-label, value-priced, and environmentally sustainable products as examples of shifting preferences that retailers need speed and visibility to address. “When a retailer adds a new private label product, the accountability and traceability of the product back through the supply chain becomes their sole responsibility. The product needs to meet internal and quality standards, as the retailer is putting its brand at risk.”

What makes Bamboo Rose an exemplary asset in this space?

Bamboo Rose, a recent Harris Williams client, is a leading unified product lifecycle and supply chain software platform to the global retail industry. It is a digital platform that serves as the central hub connecting retailers and brands with their network of suppliers and service providers, helping them more effectively discover, develop, and deliver products to market.  

“The company offers a broad portfolio of solutions that address multiple critical customer needs across the entire product lifecycle, which helped make it a high-value M&A opportunity,” notes Leed. “Its suite of solutions span initial product ideation and design to sourcing and global trade management, and it addresses many of the challenges driving greater investment in supply chain software.”  

Bamboo Rose has built a broad community of users globally, which supports greater collaboration between organizations throughout the product lifecycle and leads to more streamlined processes and a single source of information. “All stakeholders have a view of where things are in the supply chain, from design concept until delivery, and that transparency fosters trust between trading partners,” says Ryan Costa, a director in the Technology Group. “The 40,000 retailers, brands, wholesalers, manufacturers, and services providers that collaborate on the platform give Bamboo Rose a substantial barrier to entry against potential competitors.” 

The software helps to ensure supply because of the visibility and real-time collaboration it provides. “Organizations are moving away from single-source supply chains to build greater resiliency,” says Szyndlar. "The multi-enterprise nature of the Bamboo Rose platform helps eliminate blind spots to both disruption and alternative sources of supply. That means companies can make faster, better decisions to ensure products arrive at their destination on time and on budget.”  

Finally, Bamboo Rose addresses specific retail industry needs, such as accelerating the product lifecycle to better meet changing consumer preferences. Through the platform, a retailer and its suppliers can collaborate on product design, costing, purchase, development, and shipment. And once the goods are shipped, the retailer can communicate directly with its inspection companies, carriers, freight forwarders, and others to know exactly where that good is in the supply chain. The design and buying processes are greatly simplified through real-time collaboration, which accelerates speed to market. And, end-to-end traceability helps retailers know that, as they develop or buy new products, they are sourcing sustainably and meeting ESG expectations.

What should investors interested in supply chain software consider?

According to Frank Mountcastle, a managing director in the Transportation and Logistics Group, demand for supply chain software is being driven by the need for solutions that help build flexible and resilient supply chains. “These needs, as well as the complexity inherent in many supply chains, are strong tailwinds for continued growth in the sector,” he says. 

Multi-enterprise networks offer the collaboration capability and visibility to create resilience and agility. They are also critically important in many industries because they can solve pain points unique to the industry. Leed highlights that there are several sector-focused software providers that connect buyers, suppliers, and service providers in one platform to achieve these goals. There are also platforms that focus on an aspect of the supply chain, such as freight movement, removing the friction of phone calls and emails, and improving visibility into capacity.  

“At the end of the day, winning supply chain software companies help their customers tackle their most pressing problems,” says Leed. Solutions that provide visibility into input and material costs are critical as companies work to tackle margin pressures and control costs. Solutions that help companies adapt quickly to changing consumer preferences are in high demand within consumer-facing industries. And, across all sectors, solutions that help trace and report origin and movement are increasingly important as companies further their ESG compliance and accountability journey. 

Conclusion

In addition to supply chain software, Harris Williams has deep expertise in many segments of the business-to-business software, as well as in the transportation and logistics sector. Learn more:  

Technology 
Transportation and Logistics 

Select Supply Chain Software Activity:

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