Throughout history, battles and wars have been won and lost based upon the strength of ones supply chain. How strong is yours?
It could be said that much of today’s thought relative to supply chain management is rooted in the history of human expansion. In fact there are many examples of how expansion which many times happened or was planned in conjunction with the conquest of others was either successful or failed based on the ability to keep supplies flowing to the expansionists or armies associated with them. If you are a growing retailer with your own expansion plans some careful thought as to your supply chain and the necessary contingencies may be your most important activity
According to Wikipedia in military science, maintaining one’s supply lines while disrupting those of the enemy is a crucial—some would say the most crucial—element of military strategy, since an armed force without resources and transportation is defenseless.
Obviously this takes us back to our opening question; are you winning the supply chain battle? What would you do today if one or more of your current suppliers were to go out of business or enter bankruptcy (a real possibility)? Have you made plans as to how your company would replace the goods or services provided by these suppliers?
A recent example that may come to mind happened during the recent H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak first detected in the United States during April of 2009? Drug store chains during that time of panic became the first stop for much of the population in search surgical masks or other anti bacterial supplies. Many retailers ran out of stock and many suppliers were unable to meet the increased demand. Most retailers were not sure where else to turn for additional supply based on the increased demand. The trickle down effect of this could have gone on an on well beyond the impact of surgical masks or anti bacterial product shortages.
The obvious follow on question is which back orders would suppliers fill first and where would your consumers go to get them. The answer is probably not at your stores. The obvious reason is because hospitals, governments and large retail companies like Wal-Mart buy more of these products than you do.
Is winning the supply chain battle important? You bet it is! Do you have the right tools in place? This author believes the answer is absolutely not.
Ask your solution providers how they would help you in a situation like this.
We appreciate and look forward to your comments.