AFFLINK: Smart Knowledge Portal for Supply Chain Management

AFFLINK: Smart Knowledge Portal for Supply Chain Management

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Dennis Riffer, President & CEO, AFFLINKDennis Riffer, President & CEO A sea change is occurring in the supply-chain arena with the rise of e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment dramatically impacting the supply chain process in recent years. Amidst globalization, market volatility, and mounting consumer demands, past strategies are failing to resolve today’s increasing supply chain challenges. Gartner’s studies reveal that the success of any business is inextricably linked to the performance of their supply chain since customer satisfaction hinges on delivery performance. Creating a strategic advantage amidst these dynamic environments requires real-time insights from operational data to improve performance visibility and insight. Set against this backdrop is AFFLINK, a supply chain management company that empowers organizations to make efficient business decisions by offering complete knowledge about their end-to-end supply chain process. “We live our mission of being on the cutting edge of ‘what’s next’ in our industry by innovating technologies that drive efficiencies in, and costs out, of our clients’ supply chain systems,” says Dennis Riffer, President and CEO of AFFLINK.

"Regardless of the industry segment, we’re able to customize supply chain solutions based on specific business needs. We do not provide a one-size-fits-all solution"

Founded in 1977, AFFLINK was a pioneer in offering eCommerce to the B2B world. When the first eCommerce platform was unveiled in the mid-nineties, customers who had multiple locations across the country could place orders from any branch, with agreed-upon national pricing, and have those items delivered by the local independent distributor in their area. It was truly revolutionary at that time. Today, the innovation continues, “We’re not just focused on the products to perform a task, but look beyond to identify savings in procurement, ordering, inventory, and labor usage,” says Riffer. AFFLINK streamlines procurement practices by consolidating vendors, rationalizing stock keeping units (SKUs), and centralizing procurement to drive down the total cost of operations. For over more than three decades, AFFLINK has been a dedicated procurement partner to its customers by positively impacting their company image, operations, and their bottom-line. Over the years, AFFLINK has connected more than 300 distributor members and 250 preferred suppliers of packaging, food service, healthcare, safety, industrial and office products to a myriad of customers, worldwide.

Supply Chain Optimized

“We have amassed volumes of information from our manufacturing customers across various market channels to create an online consulting tool called ELEVATE,” says Riffer.

AFFLINK’s goal with ELEVATE is simple: to provide consulting services to clients looking to maximize their indirect supply chain.

We live our mission of being on the cutting edge of ‘what’s next’ in our industry by innovating technologies that drive efficiencies in, and costs out, of our clients’ supply chain systems

ELEVATE also uncovers enterprise-wide savings through an evaluation process by aligning product acquisition with corporate goals and objectives to seamlessly identify efficiencies in possession and application costs that may normally fall below-the-waterline for some companies.

The firm also takes a unique supply chain optimization methodology that includes proper consultation and a series of standards to follow. To help organizations resolve these intricacies, AFFLINK delivers a no-risk, no-cost online consultation. It is a proprietary five-step strategic approach that helps clients uncover new opportunities that drive inefficiencies and costs out of their system.

An initial engagement starts with client discovery. The firm leverages the Elevate solution to identify and verify the client’s unique business priorities. A dedicated group of consultants is employed to directly pose a series of questions to uncover the client’s needs and then rank them in order of importance. In the explore phase, clients are able to then peel back the roof and perform a “virtual audit” of their entire facility. A guided, room-by-room tour allows users to view recommended solutions that align with their priorities outlined in the previous section. “This second step is a true knowledge portal, where visitors can gain insights on thousands of products that have been selected based on their specific needs.” The third phase, deep analysis of the customer’s supply chain process.

Once the supply chain analysis is performed, the fourth phase of workload analysis begins. Using the customer’s sensitive data, the proprietary algorithms within ELEVATE highlight potential cost savings in ordering, invoicing, warehousing, and even labor usage to ensure that they are making decisions that take into account the entire spectrum of the supply chain. In the final phase, clients can view a recap of the recommendations made, and then either request an on-site consultation with one of AFFLINK’s experts who will advise them on how to implement the ELEVATE solutions, and recommend a set of solutions based on their basic requisites, along with the detailed description of the quantitative impact it has on their business.

“In the end, ELEVATE does just as its name suggests— ‘elevates’ the client’s expectations to focus on complete supply chain optimization,” explains Riffer. Focusing on indirect costs from healthcare and hospitality to industrial and commercial, AFFLINK serves companies across various market verticals. “While these industries are vastly different in nature, they share some commonalities, most notably the rising costs associated with their supply chain,” comments Riffer. Most businesses today are focused primarily on direct supply chain costs, such as raw materials, freight, and logistics.

AFFLINK’s ELEVATE solution helps clients understand the indirect, commodity, and consumable products as well. It’s these items that too often fly under the radar but can make up a significant amount of spend for the client.

AFFLINK has also launched ELEVATE Marketplace, where clients can purchase business supplies online at an affordable rate. The marketplace offers a unique process that recommends everyday solutions aligning with client’s goals and objectives to suggest the right product for the right price on all business items.

The Visibility Driver

“Our research shows that while all businesses may share similar needs, their order of importance will vary from industry to industry or even company to company,” adds Riffer. In a manufacturing plant, productivity may be of utmost importance, while in a healthcare facility, the focus may be on hygiene and safety. “Regardless of the industry segment, we’re able to customize supply chain solutions based on specific business needs. We do not provide a one-size-fits-all solution,” he adds.

ELEVATE has helped many of its clients drive out costs and increase efficiency. One of AFFLINK’s clients, Zodiac Aerospace, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of aerospace equipment, to help manage and lower their supply chain costs turned to ELEVATE software. The ELEVATE tool is designed to give clients the ability to manage, evaluate, and improve their strategic sourcing initiatives. ELEVATE system uncovers hidden purchasing opportunities and analyzes supply chain decisions and purchases. This way, the client saved more than $650,000 across five manufacturing facilities last year. Similarly, Sun Country Airlines required solutions which would not only provide but excel in national service with expertise at a local level and solve for inefficiencies within its supply chain. With AFFLINK onboard, a nationwide plan to increase supply chain efficiency for the regional jetliner was established.

Recently, the company has collaborated with The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) to provide its members with greater access to the commercial marketplace making the purchasing process compliant, easy, and economical. Such success stories and collaborations power the AFFLINK’s journey ahead. The company is helmed by Riffer, who leverages his three decades of experience in the supply chain management field by solving end-user problems with innovative solutions. With this expertise, Riffer has developed AFFLINK into an industry frontrunner while solidifying true relationships between each key link in the chain.

AFFLINK prides on its unique capability of acting as a critical link offering clients innovative products, market expertise, and improved profitability, all of which is fueled by the firm’s leading-edge information technology. Forging ahead, the firm plans to take its rich legacy forward for optimizing client’s supply chain processes, simultaneously making better inventory decisions and promoting overall cost savings. AFFLINK will also stay true to its philosophy of truly understanding the customers’ business and also ensure that its global network of distributors is able to reduce acquisition and possession costs, by providing continuous improvement practices, and achieving synergies and economies of scale with quantitative results.