What if you had a technology solution that creates a real-time link between the customer demand signal and what's happening on the ground? What if plans that are being steered centrally could  finally be connected to every shipping lane, while simultaneously, creating cost saving carrier adjustments?

SAS and C.H. Robinson are joining forces to provide a unique solution that allows companies to make real-time fulfillment decisions regarding shifting consumer demand when plans on the ground unavoidably change as inventory is still moving. Learn more by viewing the video below.

In retail and CPG supply chains, consumer demand planning and carrier route optimization have remained siloed when it comes to overall strategy, digital integration and inventory visibility. When 2020 happened,  erratic demand patterns and widespread supply chain disruptions made the need for more agile planning  crystal clear.

As retailers and consumer goods suppliers encounter business disruptions, the SAS and C.H. Robinson partner offering will help them select the best transportation routes in hours instead of weeks. The partnership brings together the industry's leading demand forecasting technology, machine learning and agile business planning analytics with global transportation management and execution services.

In the announcement and in interviews with FreightWaves, as well as a recent video released during a major annual industry retail meeting, C.H. Robinson and SAS officials spoke about the initiative, calling it “first-of-a-kind” and unprecedented.

How it works

Within an integrated data loop, SAS triggers a demand plan which feeds into C.H. Robinson’s dynamic transportation procurement tool. In turn, that connects into the world’s largest supply chain management platform, Navisphere, to provide real time visibility of inventory, which then links back and informs SAS’ Intelligent Planning suite. This means a retailer or maker of packaged goods, for example, can connect its corporate demand plans to products and freight on the move. They then can better react to real-time changes in demand, such as surge in consumer interest, and real-time changes in transportation factors, such as inclement weather. See Figure 1.    

Figure 1: Demand Powered Supply Chain Integration Dynamic Transportation Execution.
Figure 1: Demand-powered supply chain integration and dynamic transportation execution

Five years ago, this partnership would not have been possible because of the lack of elastic cloud analytics and storage, but advances in AI, machine learning, cloud analytics, virtualization and microservice APIs have made the impossible possible. Retail and CPG companies can now perform “what if” planning that simulates and suggests ideal shipping route and lanes while optimizing the cost of those choices from the item to the local market to supply chain-wide visibility.

The scale and magnitude of this end-to-end offering has never been available before. The combination of transportation management expertise with best-in-class commercial grade analytics makes this offering unique. Data insights generated by this solution will open new ways to optimize, innovate and provide real-time services to customers.

The process executed by shippers, carriers and transportation management providers has not changed in the last decade. The C.H. Robinson plus SAS offering has the potential to revolutionize transportation management, costs and contracts.


The integration of these technologies will help retailers and CPG companies:

  • Gain real-time visibility to standing and in-motion inventories.
  • Reduce raw material and finished goods costs,
  • Align capacity to specific demand plans, improving customer service.
  • Dynamically match demand planning data to transportation options to align freight needs, increasing savings.
  • Synchronize demand forecasts and transportation strategies into a unified, agile process, improving efficiencies across the end-to-end supply chain (see Figure 2 below).
Figure 2: Demand Powered Supply Chain Benefits.
Figure 2: Demand-powered supply chain benefits.


This partnership creates a data link between the major variables impacting whether products get where they're needed, when they're needed, and in the most efficient way by taking into account changes in order quantities driven by demand, and ever-shifting changes in transportation markets. Closing the data loop enables precise, agile supply chains and shorter planning cycles while reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and improving service. Retail and CPG companies in North America will benefit first from this integration, although it's designed to eventually fill the gap between business and logistical planning across all industries.

““Our work with C.H. Robinson and others at the MIT FreightLab has shown that the freight transportation industry needs innovation in procurement and demand-planning to reduce cost, minimize risk, and increase the level of service for shippers,” said Chris Caplice, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) and FreightLab. “This partnership helps move the industry forward in the right direction of a more responsive and agile transportation procurement solution.”

To learn how you can create a demand-powered supply chain with C.H. Robinson and SAS, visit SAS.com/chr.

Let us help you get started on Predict and Plan Consumer Demand on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.


About Author

Charlie Chase

Executive Industry Consultant/Trusted Advisor, SAS Retail/CPG Global Practice

Charles Chase is the executive industry consultant and trusted advisor for the SAS Retail/CPG global practice. He is the author of Next Generation Demand Management: People, Process, Analytics and Technology, author of Demand-Driven Forecasting: A Structured Approach to Forecasting, and co-author of Bricks Matter: The Role of Supply Chains in Building Market-Driven Differentiation, as well as over 50 articles in several business journals on demand forecasting and planning, supply chain management, and market response modeling. His latest book is Consumption-Based Forecasting and Planning: Predicting Changing Demand Patterns in the New Digital Economy. To learn more, please see his Author page.

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