Over my career, I’ve faced a large number of challenges. If you choose a career in supply chain, that’s really what it’s about. You’re solving problems and it’s not like you get to a certain point, you say problem solved, done, because it’s going to change and you’re going to be right back at working the same problem. Supply chain is constantly evolving and we’re always facing new challenges. A lot of times in the same space.
When I think about ones specific to supply chain. I think about my time when I was working in the U S in fashion apparel. One of my responsibilities was supporting our wholesale customers. We had two separate supply chains, but they had to work together. And there were issues between these two supply chains. We both had our SOPs on how we’re supposed to operate and they didn’t always align. And in many cases, this led to some large expenses being passed on from our customers back to us around service and compliance issues. What was interesting was if you thought about the business that we supported directly through our supply chain, we had great metrics, but when you compared it to what we were doing in our wholesale business, it looked atrocious. We were scratching our heads as to why this was.
As we started to dig into it, we believe that we had met the requirements. In some cases, we recognize that we had missed the requirements just because they were inconsistent with how we operated. Our initial approach to the problem was to dispute all of these and say, no, we’re right. We presented what we felt like was very strong evidence. At the same time, the customer was presenting just as strong evidence to say, no, you didn’t do it. We struggled with this problem for several months, trying to figure out how we were going to crack this nut. We had dialogues going on with all of our customers, all of our wholesale customers. We were going through these problems and trying to understand how we could correct them. We were visiting each other’s operations. From that, we began to share best practices across all the various customer groups.
We’d have learnings. The customer would have a learning and there’d be a
modification to how they operated or there’d be a modification to how we operated. We were able to further standardize some of the methods that we were using in serving these customers and then in how they were operating. Through that process, we learned a lot about communication and sharing of ideas and talking with one another, because, you can run two supply chains, separate and apart from one another. You can never have those critical conversations and inevitably they’re going to fail.
By the end of this, we had been able to reduce those expenses that were coming back from our customers to us by 80%. We saw greater speed to shelf and there was just an overall warming between the different entities and sharing of information. Which I think made us all stronger and made the businesses stronger.