Managing a supply chain
Jennifer a florist in North America worked diligently to cultivate a loyal customer base. She worked closely with wedding planners and stayed in touch with the families delivering her creations for their babies and over the years for their other family and business occasions. In her business, orchids fetched a premium price and there was strong demand for them.
Jennifer depended on local wholesalers for her supplies. They did not always have orchids in stock. One year she went on vacation to South East Asia enjoying the beautiful tropical beaches and the orchid gardens.
She spoke to an orchid grower who was well known locally for his range of exotic prize winning orchids. He expressed interest in exporting orchids to North America but had no clue as to how to go about it. Jennifer made enquiries with an internationally recognized courier company and found that they could provide all the assistance with regard to packing, customs and other regulatory clearance and transportation of the orchids to Jennifer’s company back home.
By relying on an established courier company Jennifer was able to help her supplier to organize an efficient supply chain that transformed Jennifer’s retail business into a wholesale business that supplied orchids to florist in nearby towns and cities. Jennifer was confident that her supplier could deliver sufficient quantities as she had assessed the orchid grower’s capacity and reliability through visits to his orchid farm and follow ups with testimonials from existing customers.
Managing the supply chain required constant monitoring and evaluation of all stakeholders including the supplier, transportation and warehousing companies, financiers and regulators. A risk assessment needs to be made with insurance costed in along with disaster management to ensure alternative supplies if necessary. For an international supply chain a political, economic, social and technology (PEST) analysis needs to be done to assess risk.
As part of her risk mitigation strategy Jennifer began negotiations with other orchid growers as well as with growers of other types of flowers. She also got active in the industry trade organization establishing relations with other wholesalers so that they could support each other in the event of disasters such as bad weather and pest infestations. Jennifer also made enquiries with suppliers of artificial flowers. Some of these artificial flowers looked so real that some customers expressed interest as they were cheaper.
An effective supply chain requires timely delivery by stakeholders including external and internal suppliers and service providers.
Working with a consultant Jennifer made sure a workflow chart and cheat sheets with timelines were drawn up and used by her staff with the necessary training and orientation organized.
In managing a supply chain, establishing a system and maintaining continual two way communications with all stakeholders is critical to being able to respond quickly to challenges.
Investing in understanding and improving your supply chain can help you to grow your business more rapidly.
International Business Consultant
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