Managing a supply chain these days is proving to be quite a challenge with brands expanding their product lines. I was wondering if this is a legitimate threat to small-time distribution companies like mine and if you could provide insights as to how I can work around this obstacle?
Dear Walter M.,
I would start by saying that inventory is the least of your problems. You have to rethink the whole predicament and recognize the opportunities it brings. Look at the big picture and see the problem from a 360-degree perspective. Look at it from all points, be it from your B2C touch-point or your B2B aspect. Essentially, what you are is a bridge for people to improve their lives, or for companies to enhance their line of business. You come in as a provider of solutions. Capitalize on that and work on bettering your services with efficiency and assurance. Here are a few points to consider:
1. Variety is your friend.
Product segmentation, for traditional supply chains, often translates to smaller stock runs, more deliveries, and productivity challenges on their distribution network. What they fail to see are the chances at innovating for the sake of addressing the new opportunities that surface. This is the time to utilize the resources we have at hand and meet the demands the expansive array of products present. Effective planning is crucial in offering cost-efficient ways to meet your commitments, especially now that you have companies like Instacart, that's built on timely delivery of groceries right to the customer's doorstep.
2. Be Disruptive AND Scalable
Disruptive means you're thinking against the grain, and scalable is adopting a model that's geared at massive growth. I encourage entrepreneurs to think big and target a scalable startup right from the inception. Simple goals and a detailed timeline often do the trick, but you have to also consider realistic concerns and real world constraints. Work on it early in the game, not when it arrives. Think foresight and strategy.
Today, there are online retailers with no inventory in existence. These are your websites that serve as platforms for selling their goods by way of internally connecting the consumer to the supplier. Take a look at the largest internet retailer in the world, Amazon.com. While Amazon does sell products at a standard mark-up, it also pioneered alternate retail strategies by acting as the gateway for other retailers and a very robust marketplace for used goods. Airbnb champions disruption by elevating the couchsurfing model into a legitimate venture. Ride-sharing services like Lyft, as well as your crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter, is championing the social premium heralded by the digital age. Understand that what the web did was to completely transform the landscape on a completely unprecedented game-changing scale.
3. Benchmarking is key
With that said, it is interesting to note that we live in a time where online grocery innovations proliferated at an increased rate. We now have your PhilGrocer.com, BayanMall, and CityDelivery for food. There's even a Mercury Drug drive-thru in Greenhills. How's that for benchmarking?
In the age of the creative economy, with the seller marketplace providing avenue streams for retail without the need to stock products, we need to innovate and really dig through what it is that we can do to elevate the way we do business.
Be the consolidating arm for retailers who put a premium on convenience. Product categories allow these retailers to touchbase with consumers from a wide range of profiles, with differing needs and interests. It is in your best interest to leverage on that value and streamline your business to accommodate the shift. It's going to take more than real-time asset utilization systems and agile dispatch tools to evolve, however. You need to think big, think disruptive, think scalable.
A brand’s portfolio expansion offers a wider array of product, flavor, package, and beverage choices. They present more profitable opportunities for the brand, why shouldn't it also be the case for you?
About the columnist
Amor Maclang leads GeiserMaclang, an internationally awarded full-service marketing communications company that steers leading names in a diverse field of industries. For more information and to post her a message, visit Geiser Maclang Network ’s online directory listing here.