Company Name: Dimplex North America
Industry: Consumer Goods, Electric Heating
Contact: JoAnne St. Louis, Senior Manager of Finance
References: dimplex.com, researchgate.net, pinterest.com, supplychaindigital.com, twitter.com/@scmr (Supply Chain Management Review), linkedin.com
Mention “supply chains” to a business professional and they will typically conjure up images of global networks, linking vast numbers of organizations, in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, buyers, all connected in a seemingly linear supply and demand relationship. Or so has been the standard dynamic for businesses since the industrial revolution, where natural resources were used to fuel the industrial processes that fed the evolving consumer markets.
But flash forward a couple of hundred years and you will find a new movement some believe is altering the world to a similar degree – the arrival of social media networks. And while one, unto itself, may seem distant from the other, the combination of social media and supply chains is reshaping how business is conducted today.
As Ed Rusch stated in his post Using Social Media in the Supply Chain, “Companies can enhance communication with customers, generate demand, reduce operating costs, mitigate risk, increase productivity, and enhance marketplace intelligence. If companies aren’t participating in social media, they could be at a disadvantage because most of their customers, suppliers, and competitors are.”
And while there is little doubt as to the impact social media is having on supply chain management, just how companies are integrating the two together is a matter of great debate. The video below looks at a few of these concepts and discusses their application in the business world:
The intent of social media in any realm is as a medium for the exchange of information. It allows for people, and/or organizations, to share information with like-minded parties, which fosters communities based on these thoughts and ideas. It is through these communities that businesses stand to benefit most from social media, although the breadth and depth of these virtual meeting places vary hugely.
In the case of Dimplex North America, it is most prominently found in the dialogue that exists between residential and commercial construction companies and the Dimplex wholesale division.
Dimplex North America Limited (Dimplex) is the world leader in electric heating, offering a wide range of residential, commercial and industrial products. They employ over 8,500 people worldwide with sales in excess of $3.0 billion. In recent years, in the North American market, their range of residential electric heating and fireplaces have become a mainstay in the luxury home builders’ catalogue.
The challenge constantly facing construction companies is securing materials in a timely and cost-effective fashion. Delays can mean contractors having to work overtime to meet challenging deadlines, minimizing margins and undermining customer confidence in the process. Where Dimplex excels is in being able to supply these companies with last-minute requests and emergency orders, based on their capacity to keep large amounts of inventory in centralized locations. While at one time this represented an inventory headache, Dimplex decided that they would use this as a way to differentiate themselves within the marketplace, instead choosing to position themselves as a nimble, agile, adaptive company that can supply construction companies with industry-leading turnaround times and delivery options.
The challenge facing Dimplex was finding a way to create and leverage relationships with the construction companies in order to be top-of-mind when a quick turnaround situation arose. This was done by establishing a presence in social media platforms such as Twitter (@dimplex_na), LinkedIn and in industry forums.
The risk that Dimplex took, and continues to take, lies in possessing and maintaining inventory levels above those of their competitors. While this does not follow traditional approaches to supply chain management, where just-in-time delivery is based on production efficiency, not inventory storage, it is absorbed by the competitive advantage that is created by having product available exactly where, and when, it is needed.
Senior Manager of Finance at Dimplex North America, JoAnne St. Louis, comments on this supply chain approach:
With their strategy in place, Dimplex now mines the social media landscape to build awareness of their product availability and create relationships. Through their followers, they are able to leverage successes like endorsements and reviews, and convert followers into clients.
— Dimplex (@Dimplex_NA) October 15, 2015
It is through these established relationships that Dimplex has garnered the most success, as they’ve been able to build the trust and competency expectations that govern supply chain management relationships. By adapting to, and assimilating with, their social media followers, Dimplex is now able to both, identify and generate, potential opportunities and it is changing their traditional sales function within the organization as a whole.
Key Lessons to be Learned from Dimplex
- By examining how Dimplex was able to work with their supply chain management strategy and turn a seeming challenge into a key differentiator, we have witnessed how a change in positioning and mindset can help align workflow and processes.
- By recognizing that the key to their strategy was the timeliness of their turnaround, from order to delivery, Dimplex has created a system of communications and interactions that place them in the proverbial, right place, at the right time. Through the use of social media to maintain relationships, and the sharing of their stories via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, Dimplex has injected the power of social media with their story, and it is now paying immediate dividends.
If there is one takeaway to be garnered from Dimplex, it lies in really knowing your processes and systems, and in understanding how these systems can be leveraged to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Through the use of social media to keep customers and clients abreast of these advantages, Dimplex is only starting to heat up.