Plat­form helps firms keep tabs on sup­ply chain

CaseS­tack com­piles va­ri­ety of data to form big pic­ture

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - EMMA N. HURT

CaseS­tack, a sup­ply chain man­age­ment and re­tail con­sol­i­da­tion provider, has been work­ing on some­thing new in Fayet­teville.

What started as an in­tern’s project has be­come an en­tire divi­sion ded­i­cated to Sup­plyPike, a new cloud­based sup­ply chain man­age­ment plat­form that con­nects all the in­for­ma­tion in a com­pany’s sup­ply chain into one in­te­grated sys­tem.

CEO Dan Sanker said that to do their jobs, to­day’s sup­ply chain pro­fes­sion­als “have to some­how in­ter­act with 15 to 100 dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies on a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent web­sites and maybe even make some phone calls. It’s a pain, but more im­por­tantly they lose vis­i­bil­ity as to what’s go­ing on.”

“With Sup­plyPike,” he said, “you’re go­ing to be able to see it all and man­age it all di­rectly.”

Sanker com­pares what the plat­form can do with what Zil­low did to the real es­tate process, adding vis­i­bil­ity and trans­parency be­tween buy­ers, home­own­ers and real es­tate bro­kers. Sim­i­larly, Sup­plyPike pro­vides one syn­chro­nized place for in­for­ma­tion from th­ese dis­parate sources, he said.

CaseS­tack saw the mar­ket need for this be­cause in sup­ply chain man­age­ment, its em­ploy­ees deal with the prob­lems of a dis­jointed sup­ply chain all the time. “With CaseS­tack we see it all,” he said. “We see where they should con­nect but don’t, so that’s what we want to fix.”

“We field the text mes­sages, emails, the chats, to fig­ure out what’s wrong. That’s what we do all day: How do we fig­ure out how to do it bet­ter? How do we fig­ure out what’s wrong with what­ever’s bro­ken? And the rea­son we have to do all that is you can’t see all of it.”

Many other trans­porta­tion, lo­gis­tics and sup­ply chain com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing J.B. Hunt, have rec­og­nized the op­por­tu­nity and de­vel­oped sim­i­lar sup­ply chain in­te­gra­tion plat­forms.

What dif­fer­en­ti­ates Sup­plyPike, Sanker ex­plained, is its open­ness. Clients can use the plat­form and plug in any other non-Sup­plyPike ap­pli­ca­tion for things like trans­porta­tion man­age­ment, prod­uct cat­a­logs or an­a­lyt­ics.

“We don’t need you to use our ap­pli­ca­tion,” he said. “We’ve got a suite of ac­tual ap­pli­ca­tions, but more im­por­tantly, we’d rather you use the one that is the best for you and make sure you use it in con­junc­tion with all the other stuff in the plat­form.”

This fits with what he called the driv­ing theme of CaseS­tack as it has grown into a $200 mil­lion busi­ness — col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“I be­lieve that if ev­ery­one can share in­for­ma­tion, share risks and re­wards on projects and busi­nesses, and if you do that across com­pa­nies and teams, there’s no way you’re not go­ing to have a bet­ter out­come,” he said.

He said Sup­plyPike could re­struc­ture how sup­ply chain jobs are or­ga­nized. “Right now ev­ery­one in the in­dus­try looks at this stuff as a spe­cific task. They don’t re­ally link the tasks,” he said.

“I think the tasks need to be linked, and you would all save a lot of time and do your job bet­ter if you re­al­ize you aren’t a re­tail per­son or truck­ing per­son, but you’re just a sup­ply chain per­son. So you all need the same stuff across this big ver­ti­cal.”

He said Sup­plyPike will not re­place jobs with soft­ware au­to­ma­tion. Rather, he be­lieves the short­age of qual­i­fied sup­ply chain pro­fes­sion­als per­sists.

“You need all the peo­ple,

but they will be able to do more and make it more pro­duc­tive. Sup­ply chain is so dra­mat­i­cally in­ef­fi­cient, it’s mind-bog­gling,” he said.

“You want to arm them with the best pos­si­ble tools, tech­nol­ogy and more in­for­ma­tion, so they can do more.”

“There’s so much copy­ing and past­ing go­ing on in the sup­ply chain in­dus­try,” he said. “That’s the stuff that should go away so those peo­ple can do higher level work.”

Sanker said he can see a time when Sup­plyPike spins out into its own com­pany with CaseS­tack ser­vices of­fered

on the plat­form. CaseS­tack em­ploy­ees have al­ready been of­fered the choice to use Sup­plyPike soft­ware.

“This is the first time that a plat­form com­bines real time ware­house data and lo­gis­tics in­for­ma­tion with re­tailer point of sales data that we’ve ever seen,” said Shan­non Be­dore, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Sight­line Re­tail in Ben­tonville.

Sight­line Re­tail of­fers small- and medium-sized ven­dors the ser­vices of a re­tail divi­sion that they don’t have the abil­ity to man­age them­selves. It has been us­ing Sup­plyPike for about six months.

She said that nor­mally,

they have to man­u­ally con­sol­i­date data an­a­lyt­ics from the re­tailer, ware­house and trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics.

“Sup­plyPike com­bines them to­gether and for the first time clients can have full vis­i­bil­ity of what’s hap­pen­ing,” Be­dore said. “It’s al­low­ing us to make bet­ter, more ed­u­cated de­ci­sions so our clients can man­age their cash flow bet­ter.”

An­other fea­ture of Sup­plyPike is that it has been de­vel­oped in Fayet­teville, she added. While CaseS­tack is tech­ni­cally a Cal­i­for­nia cor­po­ra­tion, about half of its 350 Amer­i­can em­ploy­ees are in Arkansas, its fastest-grow­ing lo­ca­tion.

“I think it’s in­cred­i­ble that the plat­form is be­ing built here in Arkansas with Arkansas em­ploy­ees,” said Be­dore. “Nor­mally you would find a plat­form like this be­ing built in Sil­i­con Val­ley. I think it’s a real trib­ute to North­west Arkansas as a mecca of re­tail and [con­sumer pack­aged goods] ex­per­tise.”

“In Los An­ge­les we post a com­puter sci­ence po­si­tion, and we’ll get 3,000 re­sumes in a day,” said Sanker, a na­tive of New Jer­sey who lives in Goshen. “Here, we will get 30 a week, but the 30 here are more rel­e­vant on av­er­age.”

“Peo­ple un­der­stand sup­ply chain here,” he said. “It’s in peo­ple’s DNA.”

NWA Democrxat-Gazette/ ANDY SHUPE

Dan Sanker, pres­i­dent and CEO of CaseS­tack, speaks in his of­fice in Fayet­teville in June.

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