The Ice Cream Supply Chain Begins with a Rural Route (RR)

Sauble Trading Post    October 25, 2014


Title of Post:  The Ice Cream Supply Chain begins with a Rural Route (RR)

Organization Name:  Sauble Trading Post – Ice Cream Parlour and General Store

Industry: Tourism Sector Retail

Name of Contact:  Kim Mizen, Owner

Web References: Sauble Trading Post Facebook

When I first started researching this blog I was thinking of supply chain in the sense of the start of the ice cream process with a cow and the end of the supply chain with my end consumers at the Sauble Trading Post.  I found a great case study prepared by the BYU Ice Cream Supply Management – which, in fact shows a guy going out to a dairy farm.

BYU Ice Cream Supply Chain Management

This could have been fairly straight forward – a trip to the dairy farm about 2 km from my house, get a cow to moo….

and interview the dairy farmer about how the milk truck shows up and gathers the milk, takes it for processing, distributes to Chapman’s, Chapman’s dairy creates the yummy flavours, our ice cream distributor picks up the ice cream and voila – the Sauble Trading Post gets 100 tubs to sell for the week.

But how can the Sauble Trading Post use social media to collaborate with this supply chain? Research  conducted in January 2014 by Adrian Gonzalez found that 62 percent of supply chain professionals reported that their companies have not yet implemented a supply chain networking solution.  The research also showed that 30 percent of supply chain executives block access to social media sites.  Business to Business (B2B) uptake of social media is very low.  The reason the Supply Chain industry is slow to embrace the potential of social media, according to Gonzalez, is because “many supply chain executives and companies are stuck on the starting line because they can’t get past the word ‘social’ and the perception it creates. Perhaps there would be better up-take if the collaborative solutions were called “Networking Technologies”.  So if research shows a high percentage of non-participants in collaborative supply chain, how can a small business utilize collaboration in supply chain to add business value?

I started thinking about the products delivered to the store on a daily and weekly schedule. The Sauble Trading Post is more than an Ice Cream Parlour.  We are a General Store that sells newspapers, bread, milk, rent movies, sell wood, propane, etc.  We have daily suppliers, like the Owen Sound Sun Times, and other major daily newspapers, and Weston’s Bakery.  We have milk delivered twice a week, and ice cream  delivered every three days.  We already use “social media” to place our wood orders by text message. So what networking technologies can we look at to take advantage of social media?

The Government of Canada has a report on optimizing your supply chain.  The article provides some ideas on how a small business can  begin using supply chain to improve efficiencies.  Some of the suggestions are to keep the inventory levels low by: 1) using “just-in-time” product orders,  2) investing in technology that will quickly transfer product requirements to suppliers, and 3) using customized software solutions to help manage the supply chain system process.

Lessons Learned:

The Sauble Trading Post had a fire in July 2014. All of our equipment was destroyed by flames and / or water including the point of sales equipment.  Based on some high level research, the opportunity to engage in supply chain collaboration is via  a new Enterprise Retail (ERP) solution.  It is an end to end retail solution that integrates point of sales, supply chain, business planning and customer loyalty programs all in one software solution.  The supply chain component will optimize ordering, replenishment and stock management, it can be integrated with suppliers to make next day delivery, it can streamline order processing by reporting inventory in against sales, and control cash registers to track orders, invoices and cash payments.

I reached out to Locking Business Machines to discuss options for implementing an integrated inventory solution.  I interviewed Mark Fling, Sales Consultant and discussed options for a small business.  According to Mr. Fling, “The Sauble Trading Post could look at a full retail system that would allow you to scan products into inventory as they arrive at the store and then the cash register automatically subtracts the inventory as it is sold”.  Mark sent a link to the product called KUSOFT, which is a ‘vision based software’ and invited me to come into Locking’s to look at the demonstration system set up in his store.  I was also given the name of local small business that is successfully using the KUSOFT retail system.

This may be the first step to implementing a supply chain collaborative solution, but given the size of our store and the length of our season, we really need to think carefully about the investment required for a fully integrated solution. I am not sure my ‘full retail system’ qualifies as a “supplier collaboration via social media”. We operate in rural Ontario – our social interaction is face to face and for us “social media” means meeting at 8:00 AM with the “coffee club” to discuss the national “news media”.  And to be honest, many of our early morning coffee drinkers are the suppliers delivering our orders!  Am I concerned if we are not ready to embrace social media for with our supply chain? Not really…..  60+% of Fortune 500 companies have NOT embraced social media either.


Are You Ready for the Social Supply Chain?, Forbes

BYU Ice Creams Supply Chain Management, Global Supply Chain Council

Collaborating with the Crowd in your Company’s Supply Chain, Crowd Companies Council

How Retailers Compete and Grow in 2012, Columbus Retail

Improving Supply Chain Collaboration with Enterprise Social Networking, Supply Chain 247

Letting small businesses and social enterprise into our supply chain, The Gaurdian

Optimizing your supply chain, Canadian Business Network

Small and Medium Business Best Practice Can Come from Germany, The Ferrari Group

Social Media and the Logistics and Supply Chain Industries: Why Not Participating is a Risk You Can’t Afford to Take, Fronetics Strategic Advisors

Submitted By:  Kim Mizen, Sauble Trading Post

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