05 June 2015

Summing up Supply Chain… 15 minutes with Cartridge World!

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This week I carried out my first international interview with Logistics Planner, Donald Piggott from Cartridge Work (UK). As a busy professional working in supply chain management, Donald was apply to give me a snapshot his experiences of the importance of supply chain at Cartridge World, the implications of overstocking/understocking and finally top tips to avoid forecasting inaccuracy. Let’s hear what he had to say…

Holly: Hi Don! Let’s start broad with my first question… how does your supply chain operate?

Don: As in most businesses (particularly retail), we are not in the position of producing a finished (or end product) this manufacturing process of the product is carried out by the links in our supply chain. Whether it is the actual manufacturer of the whole product, or a supplier providing part of the product to another link in the supply chain, we are totally dependent on each part or member of that supply chain for ensuring the success of our business. Not only the manufacturing process of the finished product, but also as importantly we also rely on the other services provided within the links of our specific supply chain. In this case ink products/printers/accessories to the print industry which include manufacturers (both UK and International dependent on price and lead/delivery times for providing the best service possible to our customers), together with the service supplied by another important link in the chain which is distribution/delivery to our business.

As a small business there is a need to minimize product costs in order to remain competitive and the most reliable way to do this is by ensuring we have a system of effective supply chain management in place in our business. This is vital to retaining our own customers in a very competitive market place.
We are continually reviewing the price/service/quality and reliability from all of the links in our supply chain as a problem anywhere in the chain will result in a problem to our business. This is usually at the expense of the customer, the end user.

Our supply chain includes all the key elements required to provide us with the finished product – complete printers/complete ink cartridges/branded packaging/cardboard boxes/paper bags/ink (purchased in Germany simply due to price ,reliability and distribution promise) so as you can see from the above short list (which also have their own supply chain to consider and manage)!
Holly: What are the impacts of under-stocking and how do you deal with this?
Don: There are so many implications to this. For example, there will always be a loss of revenue/profit if we do not have a particular product/item. As a result of this, the customer will look at a competitor to purchase item. For our store, another issue is that it is visually unattractive to customer or potential customer (empty shelves etc).
Business does not grow and loses ground in the marketplace and under-stocking could be the result of a breakdown along the supply chain. Finding out where the supply chain is failing it key to overcoming problems and facing challenges.
You must ensure there is a working inventory system is in place within the business (this can be in the form of simple spreadsheets or one of the many electronic EPOS (electronic point of sale systems) available which identifies when a particular product/item is sold and then calculates the remaining stock, giving the business a quick, simple and efficient stock level at any time. These systems also incorporate ordering procedures electronically as stock begins to deplete and will calculate for the business what new stock is required based on historical sales levels/sales trend etc.
Holly: What are the impacts of over-stocking and how do you deal with this?
Don: The business is carrying goods which are not being purchased by the customer and brings the question “Are the items/products required?” Furthermore, cash flow from the business (because of spending on buying the overstocked goods) is being restricted which could be used in other areas of the business.
Storage space could be an issue with over-stocking and product becomes out-dated before their usage dates.
Holly: How are errors avoided in your forecasting?
Don: Knowing and understanding your market, your customers and your competitors I would say would be a huge priority. Required products and materials must be bought at the right time and at the right price (so as not to overspend on your forecast). Having a system in place to capture key demand and historical data and man management is essential (do not let your IT systems totally control your forecasting…..use a mix of sales teams/marketing. Finally, make sure you review and measure accuracy of forecasting on a regular basis.

Holly: Thank you Don for this interview! 

As a tomboy child, Holly enjoyed watching wrestling and was The Rock’s biggest fan. She is from a tiny farming village in the north of England and has moved to Sydney to enjoy the city lifestyle. As a conference producer at Akolade, Holly enjoys researching with and learning from key professionals within a range of sectors to produce timely conferences. Furthermore, Holly enjoys how each day in the life of a conference producer is always different and exciting! 

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