Supply Chain Management

Supply Chains are all of the organizations, people, and processes that are involved in the sourcing, creation, distribution, and consumption of your product or service. Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the effective design, operation, and improvement of this network of organizations and people that may exist on a global basis.

Most organizations have only given serious attention to their supply chain in recent years. Previously, individual organizations were only concerned about their own operations, those that they owned and controlled. Now it is recognised that the product or service that the end customer receives will be influenced by actions across the whole supply chain, and that the success of individual supply chain organizations is strongly influenced by the actions of the other supply chain members. Supply chain management is based on this understanding and is focused on maximizing the performance of the whole supply chain.

LUSH Cosmetic Retail Ltd. is a cosmetics retailer headquartered in Poole, United Kingdom, founded by Herbal trichologist, Mark Constantine and his wife, Liz Weir in 1995. This UK-based handmade cosmetics firm is one company that now has over 800 stores worldwide and uses factories in more than 40 countries. Lush as a cosmetic retailer has always been a company that uses unconventional methods which have led them to success. Since its establishment, Lush has been inventing and designing its products to reduce usage of packaging, water, energy and also to reduce carbon emission and waste. 100% of Lush’s products are vegetarian, 65% of them are preservative free, and 58% of them are free from unnecessary packaging. Lush also created solid shampoo bars, massage bars and Bath Bombs that do not even need packaging. Lush says liquid soaps and shampoos need to be bottled and that one can prevent over 30 plastic bottles from entering the landfills by switching to solid bars from Lush. From making shampoo bars in solid form, rather than bottled, over 450,000 litres (118,800 gallons) of water is saved every year. The products in the retail store are displayed similar to how fruits and vegetables are displayed in a grocery store without extra packaging. It’s no surprise that Lush’s ethical supply chains and financial success aren’t mutually exclusive.

Damco is one of the world’s leading providers of supply chain management and freight forwarding services. For more than 100 years, They have been providing customers with logistics solutions that support the way they want to do business, wherever they are in the world. Their strategic approach and hands-on services are extensive and tailored; whether it’s a competitive rate for an urgent shipment or a strategic solution to create short-term efficiencies and build up long-term competitiveness.  Damco  is part of the Maersk Group. More information on Damco and Damco services can be found on http://www.damco.com.

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. Amazon.com and its Canadian web-site, Amazon.ca,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.

Watsi is a non-profit crowdsourcing platform that enables anyone to fund life-changing medical procedures for patients in developing countries who might not otherwise have access to healthcare. At the time this case study was written, 22,102 Watsi donors had funded healthcare for 11,559 patients in 25 countries. Patients waiting to be fully funded included Vehn, a farmer from Cambodia who needs a hip replacement, Olga, a single mother from Guatemala who needs treatment for diabetes, and Dah Htoo, a 2 year old boy from Burma who needs surgery to repair burn damage. When Watsi founder Chase Adam was a Peace Corps volunteer, he was traveling through a small town in Costa Rica when a woman boarded the bus. Her son required medical treatment she could not afford; she showed his medical records and asked passengers for money to help pay for his treatment. The town was called Watsi and the idea of developing a platform to crowdsource funding for vital health care in developing countries was born. Soon after the platform launched, the idea gained traction on Hacker News, and eventually led to Watsi being the first non-profit startup funded and accelerated by Y Combinator.

Schaeffler Group is a global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. Highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability represent the basis for the Schaeffler Group’s lasting success. This global company generated sales of approximately 13.3 Billion Euros in 2016. With 22,000 customers and 85,000 employees worldwide, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family-owned companies.  It currently has 170 locations in over 50 countries, its  network is comprised of 75 manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies. This German-based company has earned a reputation for being a leader in innovation. The Schaeffler Group has invested significant amounts in research and development, with 6,700 employees working on new products and technologies in 17 research and development centers all over the world. Schaeffler owns the rights to approximately 24,000 patents and files more than 2,300 inventions for patent applications every year. Schaeffler is continuously adopting leading-edge strategies to improve their supply chain management process. With the objective of delivering high quality products on-time and at reasonable costs, Schaeffler is committed to innovating new ways to be more flexible and adaptable to any real-time changes. It utilizes a myriad of social media strategies in many areas along the supply chain to improve productivity, design and customer engagement.  

According to Wikipedia a supply chain is defined as a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. So what is the supply chain in the sport of synchronized swimming?  Specifically for the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club.

In today’s highly competitive market, organizations must strategize to create avenues of innovation, efficiency, and increased productivity to hold on to their competitive advantage. An area with room for growth for many firms is more effective supply chain management. With a vast array of social media tools available, organizations can improve operations in several ways including but not limited to increased visibility, communication, coordination, and reduced costs. “Although a vast majority of people reference only the most popular social networks – Facebook,  Twitter and LinkedIn when thinking of social media, the true social media experience is much larger for companies. They can engage users through smart phone applications, RFID, IoT, Big Data, business social media (for sharing information between partner groups) in order to help information spread much more quickly.” Ranjan Sinha, Logistics and Supply Chain Management Professional

Up until a few years ago I never gave much thought to where my products came from. I definitely didn’t give a second thought to where my printer paper came from or whether or not it was recycled. To be honest, up until a few days ago I still didn’t think much about my printer paper but then I stumbled across New Leaf Paper. According to their website “New Leaf Paper is the industry’s leader in developing papers with the highest sustainability and greatest impact on our environment.” Not only that, they aren’t afraid to show you exactly what kind of carbon foot print their paper is making on the environment with the help of Office Depot and a tool known as Sourcemap.

Social Media’s Impact on the Supply Chain industry is deeper than you might think.  Many organizations are using the information gathered from social media to predict trends, ensure timely delivery of goods and source where a product is made.

When you ask the question; “How are you using social media in your supply chain management?” many small, medium and even very large companies simply respond by saying “What do you mean?” In fact most individuals interested in how to leverage social media for a business purpose would say that this tool in supply chain management has not been well developed.   Adrian Gonzalez in the article entitled “The Social Side of Supply Chain Management”, argues that social media should be in supply chain management because at its core social media is about people to people communication and collaboration.  He goes on to suggest that since social media use in business purposes is a “new frontier” you need to be willing to take chances, to experiment because at the end of the day “you don’t know what you don’t know”. He offers some practical parameters for this experimentation: “Don’t get caught up with buzzwords. Focus instead on the work that needs to get done, and see if social networking tools are a better, more effective solution than email, conference calls, and other ways you’re currently communicating and collaborating with colleagues and external partners. Encourage young professionals on your team to take a leadership role in finding opportunities to improve existing processes using social networking tools and to train/mentor colleagues who are less experienced using these tools. Develop guidelines, a training program, and a governance structure on social networking use that allows employees to experiment and innovate, but also clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and boundaries.”  

Clearwater was established in 1976 by two very ambitious Nova Scotians; John Risley and Colin MacDonald. Risley and MacDonald started Clearwater as a local Lobster Pound, named for the cove in which they operated, with only a pick up truck and a vision. Over time, their vision grew from its humble beginnings in Hubbards, NS at ‘Clearwater Cove’. Clearwater grew to become Clearwater Seafoods Inc.; one of the world’s leading seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses in Canada. Since its establishment, Clearwater has been a company committed to sustainability through science-based management. As company CEO, Ian Smith notes: “Since Clearwater’s humble beginnings, we’ve continued to invest in science and stewardship of the resource to sustain and grow the wild seafood products we harvest. Sustainable seafood harvesting has always been at the core of Clearwater’s business, and will continue to drive our success moving forward.” Clearwater now exports product to over 40 countries and has over 15 offices and processing facilities worldwide. A crucial component to this continued business growth is the way in which Clearwater manages their supply chain; from ‘ocean to plate’.

Supply chain, a process by which we extract raw materials somewhere in the world and convert it to some form of a manufacturing process and deliver it to customers, this is a classic definitaion of supply chain and as most of us know everything is leaning towards digital, and supply chain does not exempt from this. Salesforce introduced a digital and cloud-based platform for sharing information and allowing all stakeholders to visually monitor and view different aspects of the process from manufacturing standpoint to billing and invoicing customers. In classic definition of “Supply chain” the input in the process is the raw material (in possession of a supplier) whereas in cloud industry or any professional services sector the vital substance is the human capital, and sales force is pioneer delivering a magnificent  and innovative service to High tech, telecom, and so many financial service organizations across the world to monitor and track the chain of supply from supplier to the consumer. Salesforce journey is all about improving access to information through streamlining and automating information delivery and simplifying business process where we are referring to as supply chain process.

When you think of social media, popular networking websites like Facebook and Twitter may be the first applications that come to mind, however many companies are leveraging more robust social platforms to better plan and control their supply chain. Data mining, data sharing and online collaboration are just a few ways that social media can improve supply chain efficiency. The term supply chain management is relatively new and was first published in the Financial Times in 1982.  However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s when the term began to take hold. The term supply chain refers to the process involved in the production and distribution of a product or service. To explain the term further, I will use an example of an Oreo. The beginning of the supply chain starts with sourcing ingredients for the product such as sugar and cocoa. Other points of the supply chain of an Oreo include shipping, manufacturing, distributing, retail sales, consumption and finally waste disposal. Supply chain management strategies requires a total view of the system to optimize business processes. Having control over supply chains are essential for businesses as it impacts costs and risks, and because today’s customers are demanding transparency of it. For example, customers want to know where the foods they eat or the clothes they wear come from, and are asking companies to provide information about sustainability and ethical sourcing.

The supply chain plays a pivotal role in the overall success of an organization, but even more so in the fresh food sector. Restaurants and other food related operations are always looking at ways to cut costs and maximize profits in the most effective and efficient methods possible. Whether it be healthcare, restaurant chains or even small mom and pop type restaurants, GFS understands that managing all those moving parts can be an overwhelming aspect of doing business. GFS is the largest family operated distributor in North America that has been running for over 115 years and services restaurants, universities, healthcare and a variety of other foodservice operations. Logistics and supply chain challenges have been at the core of the GFS company fabric since it’s establishment in 1897, but being able to manage the supply chain and its intricacies in 2017 is a different dynamic entirely. In addressing this fundamental concern, GFS developed “GFS Connect” with the goal of providing the customer total traceability and accountability anywhere, anytime in an easy and convenient way: “GFS Connect Mobile is the companion application to GFS Connect, offering you access to the same information on a mobile device. This one-of-a-kind tool lets you run your business on the go, anytime, anywhere. It’s the first and only mobile application available to food service operators throughout Canada – and it’s easy and convenient to use.”- GFS Canada Website

On the day I read the content of this case study I had a nasty headache. As I reached for my bottle of Tylenol I wondered how does the manufacturing  industry use social media and the resulting supply chain management ?  Having close relatives in this industry and for confidentiality reasons I decided to look into the manufacturing/vendor side as opposed to discussing a large well-known pharmaceutical company.  What I learned at this level of this industry was it has various levels of complexities of graphs, processes and disconnected communications.

As one of the world’s most renowned supply chain managers most people would not question that Walmart has ‘perfected’ their product management, as they have products made in over 70 countries and manage an average inventory of $32 billion. However, during this Halloween season Walmart seems to have dropped the ball when listing a Halloween costume from supplier, Totally Costumes. This highly controversial costume is named, Razor Blade Suicide Scar Wound Latex Costume, it is a stick on latex scar that looks like a fresh wound from the blade of a razor. The wound is designed to be worn on wrists to look as though the individual has attempted to take their own life. Bloggers, Nicole Lyons & Stephanie Bennett-Henry, recently caught eye of this costume while it was posted on Walmart’s online store and responded to the item on, thelithiumchronicles.org, in a letter titled, “Dear Walmart”. In the letter the two go on to explain how if the company would like to do this costume justice they could go on to make an entire line-up of costumes “to make a buck off of one of the most devastating things that could ever befall a family”. They suggest to go along with the latex scars the individual could wear a sash that says, “I finally did something right”, and even have blood that shoots out of the veins after the razor finally cuts through the right vein. They suggest adding a straightjacket and a pail of meds for the individuals who do not “get the job right” and have to live knowing they could not succeed at that either. They also added the idea of a speaker that repeats a permanent goodbye to haunt those they are leaving behind. The idea of a Grieving Mother Costume was even brought forward to add some cash to the corporations pocket that would include, “ a lifetime of guilt, stigma, and shame … some latex wrinkles for the torment of unanswered questions about what they could have done differently, and why couldn’t they see the signs”. The letter goes on to add a Suicide Survivor Costume saying, “You’d add one of those tacky letters you carry, like an “F” for Failure or “D” for Didn’t do it right, or “W” for Walmart is a disgusting corporation who makes money off of the backs of people who battle every … day with their own… Read more »

These days, the image of a company on social media is crucial to its success, and businesses around the globe are having to learn quickly how to use this tool to their advantage. Primary function of social media is to stay connected with customers and to carry an online presence but it can also be used as a way to increase efficiency and improve upon supply chain management. Facebook, Instogram and other social networks allow for a dialogue between company and customer. The customer is able to speak directly with the company, and the company in turn is able to publicly exercise their great customer service for all to see, and to advertise promotions to attract new business. However, social media in industry is not just outward facing, but is being used increasingly within business to help manage supply chains, creating “social business networks”.  These networks are more about facilitating “people-to-people communication and collaboration”, allowing real time transparent conversation between peers groups. This function, in a wide spread, even global supply chain, is proving to be a golden ticket. Ability to monitor the here and now of their supply chain production and needs. Logistical updates can be tracked, data can be shared, and progress can be monitored. All this means that in turn should any problems arise, they can be dealt with quickly and effectively, pooling resource and ideas from across the entire network of suppliers.

The 2016-2017 school year began with a wealth of negative media coverage about school bus providers in the GTA. Children were repeatedly late for school when buses ran behind schedule, and in some cases children were stranded without transportation altogether. Indeed, we are still experiencing these issues (but much less frequently) on our school bus route, 8 weeks later. I’ve lost count of the number of temporary drivers who have covered our bus route (until the bus company fills the role with a permanent driver). Because of this, I’ve decided to take a closer look at supply chain opportunities in the school bus industry. I suspect social media can offer viable solutions to some of the issues we’re seeing. First Student Inc. is the largest school transportation provider in North America. First Student completes six million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, and charter services for 1,300 school district contracts.1

When Lululemon was founded in 1998, it was a yoga studio. As the business grew, it became a brand committed to selling the best yoga wear that the company could manufacture. Lululemon understood that their target market valued sustainability, and they designed their supply chain with that in mind. They strive to manufacture products that are free of cruelty, whether that be human or animal, and they try to keep environmental damage to a minimum. Social media has helped the company monitor the current values of their customers. They then update their practices to stay true to the beliefs of their core consumer base. This not only helps their supply chain stay committed to the company’s values, but also provides Lululemon with a chance to market its product.

If you’re an average social media user like me, you can probably attest to receiving regular requests to like a new page, join a group, or follow a new business. In fact, I receive far more business related requests then I do friend requests (imagine a sad emoji here). It seems the fear for businesses to enter the world of social media is dissipating and instead of being out of the ordinary for having a social media presence, businesses that don’t have these networking tools in place are starting to be the minority. For companies just starting out in the last few years, this is a huge advantage. New companies need not worry about the headaches of converting old methods of advertising, collaboration and supply chain management. Instead, new companies are able to jump right into social media and utilize it to their full advantage. Melissa Laking, owner/operator of A la King Culinary Creations in Beamsville, Ontario did just that and has not only grown a loyal fan base that saw her recently nominated for the Hamilton Spectator Reader’s Choice Awards for catering, but has also used Facebook and Instagram to develop and source out suppliers.

The Halal food industry is a booming industry especially in the Toronto area. The technique of Halal used by Muslims worldwide mirrors the Kosher methods in Judaism whereby Islamic blessings instead, are imparted on the animals right before they are slaughtered. It currently accounts for 16% of the entire global food industry and projected to go up to 20% in the near future according to SGS Solutions Experts. According to SGS, this industry now accounts for CAD $1.87 Trillion in business worldwide on an annual basis with people following the Muslim faith soon expected to represent the largest share of global consumer spending and widespread acceptance of the halal slaughter methods in major grocery chains. In 1971, Ayub Qureshi may have had the foresight of this industry when he brought out one of the first halal meat butcher shops in Toronto on Lawrence Ave called Al-Qureshi Meats. He has since retired, but with growing up around his father’s business and exposure to the retail meat environment at such a young age, son Asim Qureshi has recognized some of the trends of today’s general public and wanted to carry out the family legacy. With this, he and his partner introduced a new line of products that would help families to indulge in the traditional Indian and Pakistani flavoured meats, and at the same time, saving them the long and sometimes arduous process in preparing them. Today’s growing trends moving towards more ethnic dishes due to the high immigrant communities in Toronto, even the demographic that don’t associate themselves with being South Asian are getting on board in the consumption of such spices and delicacies. Time is slowly becoming quite the valuable commodity and so are finances. With people trying to eat more at home and finding ways to avoid eating out at restaurants on a regular basis, Tandoori Oven was the flagship product under One World Foods Asim and his team conjured up to fulfill that particular need. The food has to be fast, Consumers lack the time and the knowledge to develop the flavours at home. You have to balance the authenticity of the traditional flavours, but tone the spice down. It needs to be authentic, but not overpowering. (Asim Qureshi – Toronto Star Oct 12/2012) With an already competitive market, food suppliers that are new to the industry need to find cost effective ways to manage their business and social media has been an effective method. There are many stages of the supply… Read more »

Alibaba, the largest online business company, does not manufacture or stock products on its own; Uber, the largest transportation network company globally, actually owns no vehicles; Airbnb, leading hotel and travel company, does not own any real estate. One thing they have in common is that they all create evolutionary ideas to disrupt and reform competitive landscape. Owning no inventory nor product doesn’t stop Alibaba being the supply chain management guru. In fact, in April 2016 Alibaba Group has officially surpassed Walmart and become the world’s largest retailer.  This set the milestone when the world’s largest retail market shifted from offline to online. “We used 13 years to demonstrate the power of a different business model compared with brick-and-mortar retailers,” the Alibaba Group said. A key success factor for Alibaba is to delivery comprehensive while tailored digital supply chain process to customers.  

There’s no denying that social media has become a part of our every day lives. It has evolved far beyond individual and personal use, and is now a necessity in the business world. You would be hard pressed to find a company without a Facebook page, and any one that doesn’t won’t be around for very long. Even a business like Camp Grounded, a summer camp for adults that is built on the concept of “unplugging” and leaving all of your electronics at the door 1, has their own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts on which they do their advertising. It is used everywhere. And while the primary function of social media among businesses is to stay connected with customers and to carry an online presence, it can also be used as a way to increase efficiency and improve upon supply chain management. One major issue most companies face when managing their supply chain is communication. It’s important that all suppliers and manufacturers work together, but especially if different components are being sourced from different time zones, maintaining efficient communication can be challenging. This is where social media comes into play; it’s all about communication! If used correctly, social media should help the supply chain become more streamlined and efficient.2

Global companies are continuously communicating and collaborating with a broad community of people.1  Social media can help bridge the communication gap and help collaborate information more effectively and more efficiently.  Eyewear By Olga is a luxury eyewear retailer carrying top crafted frames from around the world.  It is located in the heart of Mississauga, in Port Credit.  Olga Trentin, Owner of Eyewear by Olga utilizes social media in every aspect of her business, whether it is for her retail store or online boutique. “Social media has definitely helped my business, from visibility to purchasing to inventory management.” says Olga Trentin.

Social media does not connect just family and friends anymore, but it allows organizations to connect to their customers. It is still a fairly new phenomenon to supply chain management, however companies are starting to learn to adapt it into this part of their business. Many organizations have successfully integrated social media into their supply chain management, creating an efficient and stable supply chain which results in greater customer satisfaction. Social networking can improve the supply chain management of an organization by creating visibility, improving communication, increasing control and reducing operational and labor costs. It is allowing companies to communicate faster and more effectively with their customers.