Tag Archive: consumer products

Let’s Manage Inventory for Our Customers

May 16th, 2019

inventory managementAmazon is propelling this age-old topic into a new realm. Since the CEO of the Ontario Airport Authority used the phrase “last mile” has become “last minute” on a panel I facilitated last year, I have shamelessly reapplied his brillant quote.

If customers don’t even know what they want, how can we? Interestingly, we have found that many customers, even the seemingly most confused and  volatile ones, have a pattern to their demand. If we take a holistic view of their demand and inventory planning processes from beginning to end and from high level to the minute detail, solutions emerge.     

One strategy that has proven quite effective is to “remove the middleman”, the customer himself. Instead, with access to demand information direct from the customers’ customer or end user, you can not only manage the extended supply chain inventory better for a happier customer but you also can improve margins, efficiencies and cash flow to boot.

In consumer products circles, this strategy often termed, vendor managed inventory is usually dictated by the “big guys”.  In aerospace, it is also expected but termed differently, customer based ordering, min max and other names. It is also common in healthcare as we won “supplier of the year” for two years in a row because of what we accomplished with VMI for Cardinal Healthcare when I was VP of Operations at PaperPak. We decided to make it a strategy for key customers at PaperPak, even though Cardinal is the only one who requested it. Should you consider a strategy like this to get ahead of your customers’ demand?  It is just another aspect in creating a resilient supply chain. Check out our series on the topic.

 



Holiday Sales are Expected to be UP by Double Digits in E-Commerce

December 17th, 2018

Black Friday has already gotten off to a strong start!  According to Coresight Research, holiday sales are expected to be up by 4% whereas e-commerce will be up 16%!   Target had a goal to hire more than 120,000 people for the holiday season which is a 20% increase. UPS planned to hire 100,000 which is up 5,000 from last year (maybe because they had to spent $125 million extra last year to fix delays because they were short staffed).  And FedEx planned to hire 55,000 additional seasonal workers which was a slight increase from last year (and they expect a record-breaking year).

Is your business seasonal?  What are you expecting? Is anyone in your supply chain focused on seasonal business?  Perhaps you should find out!

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Are you prepared for the holiday season?  I find this is somehow a common issue among clients.  The smartest of clients tend to miss holiday season trends.  For example, I worked with one client for several years and key workers took off during the holiday season for extended vacations every year.  Yet, it seemed to be a constant surprise when we struggled to keep up with demand.  Of course, our customer’s demand didn’t decrease, even in a non-holiday industry. Of course, clients focused on consumer products always struggle to predict holiday sales as you cannot start producing in December! When I worked with Coca-Cola Enterprises, employees only got Christmas day off because holidays were always BIG.  

Think beyond your company.  Given the statistics above, do you think your carriers might be a bit busy during the holiday season?  How about your suppliers that might supply other holiday-intensive industries? Your trusted advisors? No matter the supply chain partner, perhaps a heads up surrounding holiday activity and expectations would be a good idea. Holiday season volatility is another good example of why you should create a resilient supply chain to navigate disruption and achieve peak performance.

Check out our new video and article series as well as our soon-to-be offered Rapid Resilient Supply Chain Assessment service.