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.

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. 

Hear ye, hear ye! It was in 1670 that Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II, and friends acquired the Royal Charter which granted the lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” It was the start of the Hudson’s Bay Company – the oldest continuous running company in North America. It was once the largest landowner in the world owning 15% of North America. For the first century of operation, natives travelled by canoe to trade animal skins for manufactured items. The supply chain was basic relative to today. By the end of 19th century people had cash and not fur to trade, fashion tastes were changing too and so did the HBC supply chain. They have outlived many of their major competitors and have battled social and economic change. But, social media has put the pressure on many retailers including HBC to change.

As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of health care products, Johnson & Johnson’s complex supply chain processes are discussed in detail on their web site. Information about sourcing ingredients, creating products, distribution and consumption of products is demonstrated through info-graphics, web links to other organizations and direct links to many forms of social media. It is interesting to look at one product with essentially one main ingredient to really focus on one supply chain process and its reciprocal relationship with social media. From quieting squeaky floor boards, applying temporary tattoos, removing oil stains to wearing patent leather, baby powder has so many uses other than the obvious. Classic Baby Powder made with talc is one of Johnson & Johnson’s oldest products. This is a product that has gone through a lot of controversy in the media and in social media since it was part of most of our daily diapering routines a generation ago. Baby powder is just one example of a Johnson & Johnson product that has seen huge modifications in product supply chain in recent years as a result of research, media exposure and changes in consumer trends. In turn, Johnson & Johnson is using social media to its advantage in three main areas of the baby powder supply chain: ingredient research/sourcing, product innovation/trends and consumer relations/consumption.

How it all Began Today, Stonyfield Organic is a New Hampshire based organic dairy brand specializing in the production of yogurt, smoothies, frozen yogurt, milk and cream as well as some lactose free soy based products. The mission of the company is to provide healthy organic options to everyone that are free of pesticides, antibiotics, artificial hormones or GMOs while helping family farms survive and doing it all in a sustainable manner. However, 3o years ago the two founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg didn’t think it would be their dairy products changing the world. Stonyfield began as non-profit organic farming school where the two men shared their love of healthy eating, protecting the environment and family farming. They needed a way to fund their school so they started to make organic yogurt with the 7 dairy cows that they had. They knew that they were staying true to their values by producing the organic yogurt they just didn’t know how much everyone else was going to love it! 30 years later and only 30 miles East of the original farm, the business is stronger than ever providing a plethora of tasty and healthy options with the same goals in mind from the start.

Amazon is a corporate behemoth that dominates e-commerce and e-fulfillment. What started out as an online bookstore is now a complex online ecosystem that involves thousands of moving parts, including employees, suppliers, and shippers. As Amazon expands and grows, the need to innovate and streamline their supply chain becomes paramount. One of the ways that Amazon innovates their supply chain management is via technology like mobile apps and social media. Their increasingly automated systems alleviate costs, and improve overall speed and productivity.

If you live in Ontario, have eaten in a food court, local restaurant or pub or ordered room service then chances are Flanagan Foodservice helped make your meal possible. Although they didn’t help prepare or serve the food, they did make sure that it arrived on time, fresh and ready to consume through their vast distribution network. From small operations to iconic food chains with multiple locations, Flanagan services over 6000 customers across Ontario. Let’s take a small step back for a moment to discuss this network before we get into how Flanagan is taking an innovative approach at social media and supply chain management.

The clothing brand Zara is world renowned for its affordable yet trendy, high quality products. With over 1,770 stores, Founder and CEO Amancio Ortega has grown his small store in Spain into a well-recognized fashion brand in more than 86 different countries! Fast Fashion Trends The secret to all this success? Zara has managed to keep up with the constant change in fashion throughout the world – whether it’s in Japan, Italy, Canada or the USA. Like a chameleon, Zara has been able to quickly adapt to the fast fashion trends. As a result of keeping up with constantly changing consumer trends, Zara ends up producing approximately 450 million items a year for their stores. Just walk into a store and speak to an associate. If you ask them when they expect new product, they always respond with something along the lines of “We’re getting new shipments in every day.” Are you now looking for that dress shirt you were thinking of buying last week? Chances are your size or that style is gone! If you get to the store a week too late, nearly half the products will be completely different.

If you’re looking to get things done around your home or yard, many turn to the quintessential home improvement store – The Home Depot. The entire essence of their company is helping YOU, the customer, get things done. But they really have a knack for getting things done FOR you as well. Let’s take a step back. Supply chain management (SCM) and social media have a rather new connection. As Ranjan Sinha points out in his post on LinkedIn on the subject: “There was once a time when companies were adding policies that discouraged their employees from using social media while on the job. Over the course of the last few years, this notion has taken a turn for the opposite.” Of course, we already know this – there are jobs in all sorts of fields these days that completely revolve around social media. Managing a Twitter feed, Instagram account, or blog could be someone’s primary function in his or her employment. The marriage of SCM and social media is what has changed.

Born in 1937 under the name of Trans Canada Air Lines, Air Canada is the results of the fusion of many Canadian airline companies. Serving customers from coast-to-coast and even abroad, the largest Canadian airline has built a strong and efficient supply chain management through the years. Did you know that Air Canada has put in place the first computerized reservation program in the world? The computer system ReserVec was introduced in January of 1963. Already making sure it is using the best technology possible, AC continues its growing supply chain on social media.

Dow Chemical is a global monster when it comes to manufacturing chemicals and plastics. In one year Dow procures over 100 billion pounds of raw material from over 1000 suppliers and manages around three million product shipments. With operations like these Dow faces challenges managing such a complex supply chain.

As a loyal fan, I have been using iPhones for 5 years, never thinking about to look at other brands. I fell in love with Apple products right after I received my first iPhone in 2010 as a gift from my husband. It was also in the same year, I learned about Foxconn (Apple’s most important manufacturing supplier) Suicide on Sina Weibo (China equivalent of Facebook). A spate of worker suicides highlighted the conditions at its supply chain led to the worst public relations scandal in Apple’s history. In 2010, from January to June, 18 Foxconn employees attempted suicide with 14 deaths at the Foxconn City industrial park in Shenzhen, China. Their ages were between17 and 25. The way they chose to end their lives were jumping from their factory dorms. The company was pilloried in the media over allegations of poor working conditions and bad management, including long hours, crowed dorms, involuntary labor, record falsifications, improper disposal of hazardous waste, under-age worker. Another brand name “Apple” was being mentioned in every article and sometimes was put on the headline purposefully to drive attention. Foxconn was described as “Apple’s sweatshop” in massive social media posts. No matter that Apple wasn’t the only company that hired Foxconn to build its products, success made it a target.

Utilizing social media and technology is an excellent way to ensure solid communication throughout the supply chain. Without communication, the chance of an error (or a perceived error) greatly increases. Such is the case with Purolator. Think about it—customers are entrusting their goods with the company, so it’s only right that the customer remains in-the-loop throughout the entire process. As you can see in the video below, Purolator is well-aware of just how important it is to simplify the supply chain process for customers.  

To infinity and beyond. Why the desert, and not outer space could be the next great frontier for a company looking to push it’s supply chain into HYPERDRIVE!

Okay a show of hands… who doesn’t like chocolate? Anybody??? Didn’t think so. Perhaps one of the most loved foods in the world, chocolate comes in so many forms it’s virtually impossible to find someone that doesn’t like chocolate in at least one form. I don’t actually have any data to back that up, just my own theory that you’d have an easier time finding a unicorn or a Sasquatch. Perhaps I’m letting my own love of chocolate cloud my judgment but I can’t be that far off considering that the average Canadian consumes 5.5 kilograms or roughly 12 pounds of chocolate each year. Ferrero SpA is the fourth largest manufacturer of chocolate and confectionery products in the world, behind only Mars, Mondelēz International (makers of Cadbury, Oreo and many other brands) and Nestlé. The Italian manufacturer is probably most recognized as the makers of the famous Ferrero Rocher chocolates but are also responsible for bringing us Tic Tac, Kinder and Nutella. Ferrero is responsible for using about one quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply and have almost single-highhandedly caused the hazelnut industry to soar.