Every organization must deal with the management of a supply chain to some extent. Often, the production/distribution of commodities does not operate at the hands of one person or group, but multiple people working together, across different locations and with expertise to produce and deliver a product to the consumer. In turn, with so many people across the supply chain to manage and coordinate with one another, social media has become a powerful tool to successfully organize logistics for any given organization.
Logistics may be defined as “a series of social practices and technical operations that provide the organizational conditions for current systems of production. Logistics manage the mobility of people and things in the name of communication, transport and economic efficiencies. They are an integral part of globalized trade and production.” A prime example of an organization that deals with intense logistics is none other than supply chain management solutions provider united parcel services, more commonly known as UPS. In fact, the company claims to simply LOVE logistic, as evidenced below.
UPS is an organization that showcases how social media is integral to the supply chain and logistical practices. The main ways that UPS uses social media to ensure that their supply chain runs in smooth order include how it uses the social platform of blogging to increase the company’s transparency/visibility. To elaborate, through the platform of a blog, UPS publishes case studies and stories about various employees across the supply chain. Consequently, the sharing of often “concealed” practices on the platform of a blog allows for increased understanding of supply chain activities, not only for UPS customers, but more importantly UPS employees across the supply chain. Evidently, the blog has proven to be an invaluable resource for the company to increase supply chain visibility and further effective management of the supply chain, through increased understanding of how it functions and the people working “behind the scenes.”
Another way the company is using social media to ensure that its supply chain and logistics run smoothly include a Facebook strategy which works to support the company’s internal management. For example, UPS’ Facebook strategy focuses on creating a space to facilitate discussions based around innovative solutions “and possibilities in the logistics sector as well as the supply chain to attract and create a community of small businesses that can all contribute to discussions.” In turn, this specific Facebook strategy allows the UPS supply chain to be managed in a more efficient way because the social media platform creates a space for increased levels of communication amongst all members, which makes the whole elaborate process of managing a supply chain much easier, not to mention organized. An additional way social media enhances the management of its supply chain is through its involvement within customer service. UPS utilizes both Twitter and Facebook to oversee complaints and provide solutions to them. Using social media platforms to provide customer service simultaneously allows UPS to collect business intelligence on problems that may be occurring in the system. Overall, access to this information makes it easier for the company to improve the different facets of the supply chain and increase levels of performance for UPS.
Lessons for Others
UPS showcases the importance of implementing a multi-faceted online social media strategy. UPS proves that social media allows for the creation of online spaces where open communication with smaller businesses and logistics managers may take place, which in turn, allows the company to obtain essential data on how to better its supply chain practices. Social media also helps companies/organizations discover new logistical innovations and solutions, and facilitate “a sustainable community of B2B businesses where a variety of industry-related issues can be addressed” no matter their position or ranking within the supply chain. In sum, social media proves once again that it is a valuable tool when it comes to organizing operations across the hectic schedule of a supply chain like UPS.
*** A member of the organization was contacted, but no comment was offered by the time of submission.
Industry: Parcel Services
Name of Organization Contact: David P. Abney, CEO
Authored by: Danielle Brubaker
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Neilson, B. (2013). Theorizing Cultural Work: Labour, Continuity and Change in the Cultural and Creative Industries. Routledge. https://books.google.ca/books/about/Theorizing_Cultural_Work.html?id=ouJXAwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y
Tech XB. (2012). UPS Social Media Case Study. Tech XB Blog. http://techxb.com/ups-social-media-case-study