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3 Key Things to Know

In this Video, Rob O’Byrne from Logistics Bureau talks about the 3 key things you need to know about your Supply Chain.

“What is supply chain about?

For those who don’t know much about supply chain and logistics management, I would like to highlight three key areas to keep an eye on. I often call these my three things a CEO needs to know about their supply chain. But first let’s understand why a company’s supply chain is so important. A recent study focused on identifying the impact of supply chain glitches on over 800 companies over a 9 year period, the usual things like shipping delays, production delays, stock outs, and the like. The average fall and shareholder value is 8% or 180 million dollars. How can that happen? You might well ask. Well sadly within many businesses, the key performance indicators being used often don’t tell the whole story.

So let’s move on to the three things, and these are:
1. Is our supply chain efficient?
2. What does our supply chain really cost our business?
3. Where can we improve our supply chain to gain competitive advantage and improve the bottom line?

Simple questions, I know, but many businesses don’t know the answers, so be prepared to ask them or maybe it’s you who need to have the answers ready.

Question one, is our supply chain efficient?

Many people think they might need more  buzz words, such as lean, agile, CRM, CPFR collaboration, more IT systems, I’m sure these may be needed, but a lot can be achieved by getting the right people focused on the right processes. Quite simply ,your supply chain needs to provide the right products at the right service at the right cost. Quality is a given. You really need to understand your customer’s service needs, and they’re not all the same. Most companies over service some customers and under service others. So your customer service requirements need to be identified and measured. We also need to make sure that the customer service offer is realistic, because as we all know, in most businesses once the customer service performance reaches 92 or 95%, service costs increase exponentially. So getting customer service right is really about understanding your different customer needs, the needs of your products and services in terms of how they’re delivered and the underlying cost drivers. If you hear some of these types of comments on your business, get worried because these are real examples.

All customers get two deliveries per day, why? I’m sure they don’t all need it or want it. We deliver to the north on Monday, the west on Tuesday, the South on Wednesday, the East on Thursday, and on Friday, we do emergency deliveries. Just don’t have an emergency on Monday, that’s what I say. Only accounts that spend over a thousand dollar per annum get free delivery, but if anyone complains about poor service, we give them free delivery.

Question 2, what does my supply chain cost?

You probably know the high level numbers but you could be losing money on certain mixes of customer product and geographic location. Well certain processes may have a much higher than expected cost. Costs can be measured in terms of supply chain cost as a percentage of sales or cost per order, or pallet, or carton. And cost needs to be visible as total supply chain costs, inbound costs, and storage costs. As an example, I have a customer who’s a distributor, they have 10,000 stock keeping units and lots of small orders. They found 30% of their orders leave the warehouse with a negative margin. That’s just taking sales minus cost and warehouse handling cost. So some simple questions to ask within your business might be, what’s our cost per pallet, per item, per case or whatever unit you use, in terms of total supply chain cost? What’s our storage cost or delivery cost? What’s our average cost per order? And does this vary much by product group or customer group? What are our stock terms?

Question 3, where can we improve on supply chain?

Let’s look at the revenue side first, can we improve our delivery in full on time? If our products are not on the shelf we’ll generally loose a sale. Can we get our products to market faster, perhaps to extend their shelf life? Can we improve our service offer? In terms of the cost side of the equation, procurements and inventory management are big ticket items. Many companies don’t buy with a total cost view, particularly now with so much overseas sourcing, they just focus on cheaper unit cost, not end to end total supply chain cost, and of course warehousing and transport costs are the areas to focus on.

So to finish off, I suggest the three key things you need to know about your supply chain are:
1. Is our supply chain efficient?
2. What does our supply chain really cost our business?
3. Where can we improve our supply chain to gain competitive advantage and improve the bottom line?

As a start point, try asking some of these questions around your business:
1. How do our products influence how we buy, manage, and deliver them?
2. How do our customers differ in their service needs?
3. What do our customers really value that our supply chain can influence?
4. What customer behaviors can we influence to improve our supply chain costs and asset utilisation?

So I hope that gives you a few ideas on where to look to improve your supply chain.”


Rob also has a handy easy to read eBook on the topic:

What is Supply Chain Management? 

For some more handy free information, take a look over here at

Supply Chain Secrets


Contact Rob O'Byrne
Best Regards,
Rob O’Byrne
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 417 417 307
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