You’d be hard-pressed to find a Canadian who hasn’t heard of A&W. That’s because their first location opened over 60 years ago, and they have over 900 locations across the nation. They were often the first nationally branded restaurant in a community. And while their frosted mugs are embedded in our memories, they continue to evolve with their customer’s changing needs. From farm to table, the supply chain in the food service industry is under intense scrutiny from customers who not only want to know where their food is coming from, but also the humanitarian and environmental effects. With a demand for transparency, social media can impact the supply chain addressing customers’ desire for better understanding of how products are sourced. And A&W Canada is leading the pack, with quality products that speak to a changing demographic. They’re the first and only national Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) in Canada to serve beef raised without the use of hormones or steroids, pork and chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, and eggs farmed in Canada from hens fed a diet without animal by-products. And yes, they also serve organic, Fairtrade coffee, too.
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.