Supply Chains & Logistics

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Hans Jôhr. Nestlè. Corporate Head of Agriculture.Foto:  Toini Lindroos

Creating Shared Value at Nestlé

Hans Joehr, Nestlé’s corporate head of agriculture, is responsible for providing technical and strategic leadership for Nestlé’s worldwide agricultural material supply chain. One of the ways Nestlé accomplishes its goals is by providing agricultural “extension services” for the hundreds of thousands of rural farmers who are its suppliers. It’s all part of the company’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) approach to business, a process that seeks to create value for shareholders while also ensuring the company creates value for the communities in which they operate.

Google Glass

Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing

Recent technology advances in mobile computing and augmented reality are blurring the boundaries between traditional and Internet retailing, enabling retailers to interact with consumers through multiple touch points and expose them to a rich blend of offline sensory information and online content. In response to these changes, retailers and their supply-chain partners will need to rethink their competitive strategies.

Image courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Rebuilding the Relationship Between Manufacturers and Retailers

In the tug of war between manufacturers and retailers, retailers seem to be winning. Retailers control market access and influence consumer behavior. Their power has moved downstream. What can be done to improve the situation? While manufacturers are locked into fixed investments and products with long payback cycles, retailers have a variety of ways of making money. This article explores how manufacturers can benefit by tailoring their approaches to a retailer’s specific business model.


When One Size Does Not Fit All

Although executives understand the difference between efficiency and responsiveness, many are confused about when to apply each strategy. In recent years, companies have been caught in the bind in which Dell Inc. found itself in 2008, when it needed to transform its supply chain to serve new customers in new channels. The question was: how to do that? Dell decided to create multiple supply chains, configured so that the company could reduce complexity and benefit from economies of scale.

Image courtesy of Flickr user suneko.

New Ways to Engage Employees, Suppliers and Competitors in CSR

Timberland LLC, a global boot and outdoor apparel manufacturer, goes beyond simply telling the world about its sustainability work. According to Betsy Blaisdell, the company’s senior manager of environmental stewardship, it has creative new ways to involve employees and to partner with suppliers — and competitors. In this interview, Blaisdell talks about the environment “nutrition label” it’s developed for its footwear, and its partnership with 60 plus apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers and NGOs (from Adidas to Patagonia to DuPont to the World Resources Institute) to develop an environmental index called the Higg Index.



Driving Growth and Employment Through Logistics

Logistics clusters are local networks of businesses that provide a wide array of services, including transportation carriers, warehousing companies, and freight forwarders. Logistics clusters address several challenges that economies face, including the need for good jobs. In addition to helping companies navigate global supply networks, logistics clusters are contributing to the efficiency of global supply chains and, in the process, increasing international trade and global trade flows.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mmoosa.

Why Kraft Foods Cares About Fair Trade Chocolate

As vice president for sustainability at Kraft Foods, Chris McGrath has been pivotal at guiding the company’s sustainability efforts. With its global reach and massive market shares, the company is setting new standards on how to source through sustainable agriculture and keep packaging out of landfills.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson.

Improving Environmental Performance in Your Chinese Supply Chain

Multinational corporations are under growing pressure to make sure their contractors and subcontractors in China meet environmental standards. Yet traditional approaches to ensuring environmental, health and safety compliance, such as checklist audits, have proved problematic. This article recommends that organizations work closely with suppliers, providing incentives for identifying, disclosing and addressing problems and establishing collaborative relationships with NGOs and industry groups.


Is It Time to Rethink Your Manufacturing Strategy?

Since the mid-1990s, many companies have outsourced or offshored their manufacturing operations. For most, one crucial enabling factor was cheap oil: Long supply lines were economically feasible because transportation costs were relatively low. Hence, companies emphasized reducing manufacturing costs through (1) offshoring or outsourcing; (2) plant rationalization; and (3) consolidating distribution centers and warehouses to reduce inventory levels and minimize fixed facility costs.


Image courtesy of Flickr user Dominic's pics.

How Gap Inc. Engaged With its Stakeholders

Back when protesters were targeting the company, the Gap realized that it needed to overhaul the way it interacted with its critics. So the company launched a strategy of stakeholder engagement.

Michael A. Cusumano, professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management

How to Innovate When Platforms Won’t Stop Moving

In this interview, MIT Sloan School of Management professor of management Michael Cusumano discusses traits that will help companies through disruptive transitions. One trait is agility, which has four principles: capabilities rather than strategy; pull rather than push concepts; economies of scope rather than scale; and an emphasis on flexibility rather than efficiency. A second trait is deep, differentiating capabilities, which can be found in processes (such as supply-chain management).

Image courtesy of Flickr user kenjonbro.

What Really Happened to Toyota?

Consumers were surprised in October 2009 by the first of a series of highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the United States. Citing a potential problem in which poorly placed or incorrect floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models, Toyota announced that it was recalling 3.8 million U.S. vehicles. The article discusses two root causes for Toyota’s quality problems.

Image courtesy of Flickr user indywriter

New Sustainability Study: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage

How fast are businesses adopting sustainability-driven management? The new Sustainability & Innovation Study identifies two distinct camps — ‘embracers’ and ‘cautious adopters’ — and offers a snapshot of how the management future will look.



Opportunism Knocks

Complex supply chains with many agents are more prone to problems, and on occasion, to spectacular collapse. Examples from the last few years include the subprime mortgage crisis; the failure of the Peanut Corporation of America; and dioxin-contaminated Irish pork. Without a doubt, today’s complex supply chains are vulnerable to opportunistic behavior leading to sometimes catastrophic failure. But there are five steps managers can take to protect their companies.


The Four-Point Supply Chain Checklist: How Sustainability Creates Opportunity

Supply chain executives are uniquely positioned to be able to see the whole ecology of a firm’s business, because they’re so close to all the pieces. This is especially true when it comes to matters of sustainability. This interview with Edgar Blanco, Research Director at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, outlines the areas in which supply chain managers can immediately have a sustainability impact, including packaging, transportation, supplier engagement, and customer alignment.

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