Tag Archives: Supply Chain Management

Most people consider social media to be platforms for dialogue between themselves and their closest friends and favourite social influencers. Of course, marketers and organizations use social media to promote products and brands, communicate with customers, and gather data from their target audience. It’s not surprising that discussions involving the application of social medias rarely focus on supply chain and distribution implications; however, this function within a business and between businesses can benefit almost infinitely from a strong network of social media and communication platforms. Many companies are beginning to look to other areas of their business to either cut costs or earn more income, and their supply chain has become an increasingly popular source for such activity. One company capitalizing on this newfound value centre is SDVI, a resource management company that helps media and entertainment companies organize their data and information supply chain to improve the agility and efficiency of their media infrastructures (Market Wired, 2016).  

Creating a supply chain that is both efficient and properly managed can be difficult. Between ensuring visibility across channels, product development, customer service and accurate inventory management, maximizing the performance of a company’s entire supply chain can be complicated. For a company like Ryder, though, supply chain management is what the company excels at. Ryder is a Fortune 500® commercial fleet management, dedicated transportation and supply chain solutions company. With over 50,000 customers, Ryder boasts a 99% on-time delivery rate, 80+ years of experience and a fleet of more than 230,000. Ryder has been recognized for its industry-leading practices in third-party logistics, environmentally friendly fleet and supply chain solutions, and world-class safety and security programs.

“There aren’t many organizations globally that source their raw material from their friends and neighbours.” That was how Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services (CBS) opened his remarks during the Queen’s Health Policy Change Conference Series in Toronto last summer. CBS manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). It may seem odd to classify blood as a raw material to be processed, but that’s exactly what it is. And in 2016, those friends and neighbours Sher mentioned supplied more than 1.2 million units of these products. But reaching that level isn’t easy, given that one in every two Canadians is able to donate, but only one in sixty actually does. And every year, almost 40% of donors stop giving due to changing eligibility requirements, attrition and other reasons. With a relatively small pool of ‘suppliers’, every donation counts and every missed or cancelled appointment is a lost opportunity to not only replenish the supply of blood products, but to provide vital data that helps hospitals determine inventories, schedule procedures and ensure an adequate supply of products for emergency use. Social media campaigns have been used in various industries, from pizza producers to newspaper publishers, to collect data and improve supply chain efficiency. In this case, CBS uses data gathered from social  and other digital tools to guide its recruitment and retention campaigns.

Adidas’ and FIFA’s relationship dates back 47years, and since 1970 Adidas has been supplying the official match ball for all FIFA World Cup™ matches. The partnership was recently extended until 2030 granting adidas the Official Partner, Supplier and Licensee rights for the FIFA World Cup™ and all FIFA events until 2030. The announcement was made during a ceremony in Moscow by Thierry Weil, FIFA Marketing Director and Herbert Hainer, Adidas Group CEO. Adidas wants to preserve its position as the number one seller of soccer gear worldwide. In 2010 Adidas, was the first and only outfitter and licensee to disclose the list of suppliers/factories involved with the production of World Cup products of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Adidas Supply Chain Structure Adidas is currently outsourcing most of the production to more than 1,000 independent factories from around the world. Adidas products are manufactured in 63 countries and supply chain is global and multi-layered with different types of business partners, some are directly contracted factories, while others are not. The top five countries per region and by number of supplier sites in 2016 were: The Americas (26%): United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and Mexico. Asia (64%): China, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia and Japan. Europe, the Middle East and Africa (10%): Germany, Turkey, Italy, Spain and South Africa.  The Power of Social Media and Supply Chain Management Adidas has launched a #allin campaign on Twitter. The official World Cup 2014 soccer ball named the Brazuca was given its own Twitter handle (@brazuca) generating over 139,000 followers. The Adidas Football YouTube channel has 350,000 subscribers and is host to various videos showcasing Lionel Messi, featuring the new Battle Pack cleats that were launched in conjunction with World Cup content. One of the videos features the Brazuca that was fitted with cameras into the ball that was sent on a World Journey. In 2014 World Cup in Brazil the Adidas football Facebook page had over 17 million likes, containing pictures promotions, video links. Some of the promotions included signed soccer balls by designated players that could be won by customers by following Adidas soccer related Twitter accounts. This was a way for Adidas to connect to their customer base, fans and anyone interested in Soccer. Adidas is using Social Media to Improve Supply Chain Management The Sports Retail Industry is a highly competitive market and it is very important for companies to… Read more »

It’s the wold’s most valuable sports brand. And it all began when founder Phil Knight decided to start selling track shoes out of the trunk of his car in 1976. Today, Nike is a global athletic shoe and apparel juggernaut, with a brand value of nearly $15 billion U.S. But a string of public controversies in the 1990s and early 2000s over the working conditions at some of Nike’s factories around the world threatened to derail close to 20 years of brand building in one fell swoop. Allegations of child labour, poor wages and dangerous working conditions at various locations in its global supply chain triggered widespread protests and seriously threatened Nike’s very existence. And while the company initially denied any claims of wrongdoing, further damaging its reputation, it eventually responded with humility and transparency. Today, Nike makes its supply chain practices transparent and available online and uses social media in various forms to actively listen to and engage with its stakeholders in order to influence where and how its products are designed and manufactured – all critical elements of effective, and modern, supply chain management.

Innovation is the hallmark of internet startups. When Karl Seibrecht co-founded Flexe, a company that many call the Airbnb of warehouses, he had recognized a problem for many companies and came up with an innovative solution. Clients of Flexe can add empty warehouse space that they may have to a registry and clients looking for space can search to find a good match. This is very similar to the Airbnb model of people renting out their spare room or their house on a short-term basis. Karl Seibrecht commented to Fortune.com, “At any given moment there are many, many businesses out there that have too much space, while other businesses don’t have enough.” (Morris, 2015)

The management of the flow of goods and services is what is referred to as supply chain management. According to Margaret Rouse at TechTarget, Supply Chain Management is defined as “Supply chain management (SCM) is the oversight of materials, information, and finances as they move in a process from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer. Supply chain management involves coordinating and integrating these flows both within and among companies.” Supply chain management occurs in both product companies and service industries.

Sports brings people together. It moves and inspires people in ways that can sometimes be hard to explain. The sacrifice can never be put into words or understood unless you’ve personally gone through it yourself. But yet, regardless of your participation or not, sports can bring a nation together. It can bring us to our knees and can instil a sense of pride. The raw talent, incredible dedication and sheer passion of watching someone give it their all is a great indicator that sport is much more than the result at the end of a race or a game, it tells the story of the incredible team behind-the-scenes that helps a team or individual propel to greatness.

There is no better feeling than having your skin hydrated, cared for and clean while using products that support a value, cause or lifestyle you align yourself with – organic, natural, environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, ethically responsible, or all of the above.

Few condiments hold a candle to this savory-sweet, palate-pleasing treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Ketchup, your pairings are endless: eggs, bacon, bologna, hot dogs, fries, burgers, sausages, onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks…alright maybe not endless. That’s getting pretty close to an exhaustive list, as far as any self-respecting person can enumerate. Yes, this powerful condiment possesses an innate ability to make-or-break your summer BBQ. And it recently showed off some of its unique power to rally social media supporters in a very surprising way. Canadian Connoisseurs Speak Up In March 2016, Loblaws decided to pull French’s ketchup from its shelves without warning, inciting a viral backlash demanding Loblaws re-list the item. The sense of importance associated with this particular product most likely stems from its local origins. French’s ketchup is made with tomatoes grown here in Canada; Leamington, Ontario to be geographically precise. Thus it’s a source of national pride, of small-town Canadian jobs and, ultimately, of significance extending well beyond something squeezed from a bottle. This high level of engagement in the supply chain management process led Globe and Mail food columnist Sylvan Charlebois to declare in his Ketchup Wars opinion piece that “the politics of food distribution are alive and well in Canada”. Many speculated that unfair competitive practices among vendors may have had something to do with Loblaws’ decision to de-list the product. Finding evidence to support this theory is challenging. However, the ketchup story illustrates how the complexities of food retailing are increasingly intermingling with unexpected social media uprisings.  

Recognizing social media is so much more then Twitter, Facebook or an online forum, I took my question to Professor Peter Carr of the University of Waterloo to understand what social media really is defined as; he noted: “There isn’t a generally accepted definition and opinions probably include narrow, which would be restricted to popular public tools (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and broader, including any form of online communications (email, Yammer, SharePoint etc.). I use the broader approach, any online communication between two or more people could be included.” Understanding Carr’s definition on social media, we can really look into how might social media fit into companies – and in what realms? Specifically for the topic of this post, how does social media fit into supply chain? From course material in my Social Media for Business Performance at the University of Waterloo, it is discussed that there are a variety applications for social media in the supply chain, but there are a few I really want to focus on that I find make an interesting case study: visibility, stakeholders and purchasing.

Climate change and environmental accountability are both hot topics in the 21st century. More and more people are becoming concerned about the products they buy and what impact on the climate their production has. It has been reported that also more businesses are increasingly taking environmental performance into account when selecting suppliers. In July 2009, Wal-Mart announced its intention to create a global sustainability index system to keep track of products ratings according to the environmental and social impacts of their manufacturing and distribution. The motivation behind the index is to create environmental accountability in Wal-Mart’s supply chain and to encourage other retail companies to do the same. Wal-mart Stores, Inc., doing business as simply Walmart, is an American multinational retailing corporation that operates as a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. As of January 31, 2017, Walmart has 11,695 stores and clubs in 28 countries. Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue – approximately $480 bln (2016), as well as the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees. Walmart Canada has stores in every province and territory, except for Yukon and Nunavut. Walmart Canada has in total 410 stores (January, 31st, 2017).

Supply chain management (SCM) relies on, at its core, people talking to people.  Working with vendors, coordinating shipments and carriers, buying stock, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels, forecasting what end users may be looking to purchase in the future – every step of the way involves communication between one party and another. “Social networking is not about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of managing and executing supply chain processes.”  “What is needed [in a dynamic business environment] is a supply chain of rapid response…Many people who work in the materials business [and] talk about supply chains and the speed of supply chains [have historically] thought about systems talking to systems across enterprises and about processes. But in reality, the speed of the chain is not really related to the systems used by the various companies—it’s all about people, and people talking to people”

At FlashStock, operational efficiency is key to the growth and success of the company. Our core product is custom images and videos taken by our network of global contributors which is delivered to brands around the world through our machine learning technology. Even with this automation, we need to ensure that the customer is properly managed throughout the customer lifecycle. Having better insight into the process, through the collection and use of data, allows FlashStock to scale resources as needed for all client project sizes, effectively manage the pipeline of business, and ensure the proper management of those resources for optimal productivity. Some say having a well-oiled supply chain is a key competitive advantage. FlashStock views the supply chain as key for tracking and measuring that we are going above and beyond for our clients delivering what we promised.

Budget Marine is the Caribbean’s leading marine chandlery with retail locations throughout the Caribbean.  In the Caribbean, most people use social media to let friends and family know where their latest landfall is, and for obtaining information through cruisers’ nets. Using social media as a tool to improve business performance is a new concept.  However, for companies like Budget Marine, it opens up vast new opportunities.  People may not think of the Caribbean when they think of “multinational companies,” but that is exactly what Budget Marine is.

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.

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

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’.

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 »

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.

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.