March 19

March 16

Much of retail failure has little to do with Amazon and more to do with debt and loss of customer interest. Retail has failed to keep up with the changing consumer needs. The parts that have done well have used #supplychain capabilities innovatively – to increase service (Amazon), quick response (fast fashion), personalization (Sephora), and others.

Amazon didn’t kill Toys ‘R’ Us. Here’s what did – CNN Money

March 14

Rapid scaling after a successful product launch remains a problem for many startups and high tech companies. While Tesla struggles with its Model 3 production, the world’s largest car companies are catching up. GM is increasing its electric vehicle (EV) production, and now VW plans to expand manufacturing of EV and hybrid cars. It pays to invest in #supplychain capabilities.

Volkswagen Vows to Overtake Tesla With World’s Largest Electric-Car Fleet – WSJ

March 12

Drone delivery and travel are becoming a reality. The focus is now on technology demonstration and resolving legislative and security issues. However, to make drones viable, cost and logistics have to be optimized. #supplychain will play an important role.

Coming Soon to a Front Porch Near You: Package Delivery Via Drone – WSJ

March 9

With closure of retail chains, consumer goods companies, toy manufacturers and others find their primary sales channel gone. They have to find alternate ways to get their products to consumers. Signing up with Amazon is not going to solve the problem. #supplychain could help.

Toys ‘R’ Us Considers Closing All of Its U.S. Stores – WSJ

March 7

Wrong forecast and inventory pile up continue to impact company performance. It ties up capital, clogs #supplychain thereby reducing money and space for new products. Getting rid of excess inventory and debottlenecking efforts could help speed up the process.

Lego admits it made too many bricks – WSJ

March 5

The U.S. is changing tariff’s, and there is a concern of trade war between countries. Risk management is a key responsibility for #supplychain. The organization will have to optimize product flow to manage changes in costs and regulations.

Optimism for Manufacturers Upended With Trump’s Tariff Pledge – WSJ

March 2

Marketing value proposition in the world of millennials, who value peer reviews more than advertising, remains a question. Digital advertising thought to be the new frontier a few years back is suffering from credibility with marketers. Cost cutting is probably not the solution, instead better analytics could improve ad effectiveness. #sourcing could help.

Turmoil on Madison Avenue as Marketers Push for Change – WSJ

February 28

It’s difficult to get customers back once you lost them to rivals. Operations and #supplychain has a critical role to play in retaining customers. This is particularly true when consumers look for peer reviews to make purchase decisions.

Railroads Embark on Apology Tour to Make Amends for Hunter Harrison’s Ways – WSJ


February 20

Business risks due to #supplychain can be significant. More than 60% of KFC stores in the UK are closed because of chicken supply issues. The problem was created due to switching of delivery contract from a specialist food delivery company to DHL. Incentives should encourage performance to support corporate over functional objectives.

KFC shuts more stores in chicken crisis – KFC


February 14

Amazon’s impending entry into hospital #supplychain can completely transform the medical supplies industry. The B2B space is different from B2C. It’s not sufficient to provide comparison shopping and product reviews by customers. To win in B2B space, Amazon will also have to manage inventory at customer’s end. They could either do it in-house or via a partnership with third parties. #supplychain will continue to play an essential role in determining the winner.

Amazon’s Latest Ambition: To Be a Major Hospital Supplier – WSJ


Photo: David Goldman/Associated Press

February 9

Is insourcing / vertical integration good for business? Many companies are bringing part of their outsourced business in-house and acquiring suppliers. The objective are – increase supply continuity, reduce costs, and provide new ways of earning revenue. However, none of these are guaranteed and could become a distraction as technology or end-user needs change. A better way is to find more effective ways of working with #supplychain partners.

Boeing in Talks to Buy Aerospace-Parts Maker Woodward – WSJ



February 8

Procter & Gamble is simplifying its network to get 80% of its production to stores in 24 hours. There is no one size fits all solution. To speed up #supplychain, companies should also consider simplifying their ordering, delivery, planning process and supplier interactions.

P&G to Cut Hundreds of Factory Jobs in Kansas, Iowa – WSJ


Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

February 6

Is automation good? It can reduce variable cost of production and increase output but takes away flexibility. If you have a stable demand, automation can help but also creates an oversupply. Look at the bust and boom cycle of the agriculture industry. Flexibility, on the other hand, can help businesses manage demand and supply fluctuations well. Thoughtful design of #supplychain could help.

U.S. Farmers Are Producing Too Much Food. Here’s Why They Can’t Stop – WSJ



January 31

Improving products marginally and introducing them every year at higher price points is not working for Apple, automotive, consumer goods, and luxury companies. Consumers, even the rich, are refusing to pay increased prices. It’s time to think of a new way of competing. Personalization and customization by markets will be the way of the future. For example, Apple has left a large segment of consumers in developing countries untouched which are being targeted by Chinese manufacturers. #supplychain will play an essential role in the transformation.

Apple to Cut iPhone X Production in the Face of Weak Demand – WSJ


Photo: FRED DUFOUR/Agence France Presse/Getty Images

January 29

Amazon acquired Whole Foods to challenge Walmart in the most profitable segment – grocery. Now Walmart is partnering with Rakuten to challenge Amazon both in Japan and in the U.S. Japan is the second largest market for Amazon. #supplychain will continue to play a critical role in the success of both Walmart and Amazon.

Wal-Mart Has a New Ally in Fight With Amazon: Japan’s Rakuten – WSJ


Photo: Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Zuma Press

January 25

Trucks are in short supply. Shippers are having a difficult time as the economy strengthens, new safety rules and lack of drivers have restricted supply of trucks. We will potentially see more bottlenecks as #supplychains have to gear up for increased economic activity. Planning ahead could pay off handsomely.

A Shortage of Trucks Is Forcing Companies to Cut Shipments or Pay Up – WSJ


Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images


January 22

The private label concept is coming to pharmaceutical products. Hospitals are banding together to produce/purchase and market generic drugs. The objective is to reduce shortages and manage prices for some medications. Medicare and Medicaid are not allowed to negotiate drug prices in the U.S., and this may be the way hospitals get a handle on a significant portion of their costs. #supplychain can ensure private labels agreements work for all stakeholders – patients, hospitals and drug manufacturers.

Hospitals Plan to Produce Generic Drugs in Bid to Fix Troubled Market – WSJ



January 19

Millennials – the largest consumer group in the U.S. – is redefining industries. Golf, Beer, Banks, Diamonds, and other businesses are out of favor. How do you compete as the group becomes dominant buyers? #supplychain could help industries transform with changing consumer tastes, a disruptive change.

‘Psychologically scarred’ millennials are killing countless industries from napkins to Applebee’s — here are the businesses they like the least – Business Insider


January 17

GE is looking to split its business into three companies. Their approach is similar to what HP had done earlier. Industrial age philosophy, scale – bigger is better – is no longer a recipe for success. Speed and agility are more important. #supplychain could help companies be more agile and responsive to market demand.

Troubles Push GE to Consider a Breakup – WSJ



January 15

Marketing is getting disrupted with cord cutting and ad blocks reducing reach, while millennials trust peer reviews more than advertising messages. The TV ratings are decreasing whether it’s NFL, other sports events, and award shows. The old ways of marketing and branding need to change. Analytics and #sourcing could make marketing more effective.

Mars marketing chief: ‘It’s probably never been a more challenging and disruptive time to be a marketer’ – CNBC


January 11

Aircraft companies, Boeing and Airbus, have six or seven years of order backlogs. They are focusing on speeding up the #supplychain by increasing automation and closely working with suppliers. The output hasn’t increased significantly to reduce backlogs. Debottlenecking may help.

Boeing Sets Jet Delivery Record – WSJ


January 7

Excellent article about Apple challenges with new product introduction. With increased product proliferation, complexity, and competitive pressures, Apple’s fabled supply chain has difficulty meeting product schedule. The same challenges are also observed in other R&D driven industries — pharma, automotive, consumer goods or aircraft manufacturing. #supplychain has a critical role in making new product introduction successful.

Tim Cook Stumbles at His Specialty, Shipping Apple Products on Time – WSJ


January 4

Big is not better anymore. Global brands are in retreat. Old strategies such as incremental product innovation, marketing and globalization are not effective. Companies are struggling with changing consumer tastes both at home and in developing markets. Unilever is trying to compete with by copying approaches of local competitors – smaller batch sizes and in some cases product formulations. #supplychain can help companies to personalize cost-effectively.

Outfoxed by Small-Batch Upstarts, Unilever Decides to Imitate Them – WSJ


January 2

Returns are important for customer experience but are also expensive. Retailers are going out of the way to make it easy for consumers to return. It’s estimated that close to $90 billion worth of products will be returned after the holidays. #supplychain can make return process easy and also cost-effective.

Retailers Offer Myriad Returns Options to Retain Customers – WSJ

Photo: Mark A Large/Associated Press



December 12

#supplychain can become a bottleneck in company’s growth prospect. Mattel sales are declining due to children are more into electronics than toys. It’s suffering from huge inventory because of dropping sales and startup issues at a warehouse on the east coast. Outsourcing probably won’t reduce cost unless problems are fixed. On the other hand, debottlenecking supply chain and producing to demand have shown to reduce costs.

Mattel Warns of Weak Holiday Quarter, Two Weeks Before Christmas – WSJ


December 11

Early adopters like Anheuser-Busch are ordering Tesla all-electric Semi trucks. Whether electric trucks will become popular to a large extent depends on their economics. Gas prices and electrical charging station #logistics will play an important role.

Anheuser-Busch Orders 40 Tesla Semi Trucks – WSJ

Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

December 8

GE turbines generate a third of the world’s electricity, but they are getting disrupted. The future demand lies with renewables, and they do not need turbines. Chinese manufacturers already dominate solar. Forming alliances and finding new applications for its core technology may provide a way forward.  #supplychain could help.

GE’s Power Division to Eliminate 12,000 Jobs After Misjudging Demand – WSJ


December 6

Will you be happy to receive products late during the holiday season? Last mile, delivery to customers, continues to be a weak link in the U.S. e-commerce business. Delivery companies are not geared up for holiday volumes as more and more consumers shift from retail to online for their holiday shopping. Perhaps, it’s time for delivery companies to find other ways, like Uber, to increase delivery capacity during peak seasons. #supplychain could help.

UPS, Overwhelmed by Online Orders, Warns of Delivery Delays – WSJ


December 4

Printing of money by central banks across the world led to supply side boom in China and other Asia-Pac region. Oversupply of steel and aluminum is leading to dispute and anti-dumping discussions. Last year we saw bankruptcies in the ocean freight industry. The supply correction may spread to other sectors as well. #supplychain has a critical role to play in ensuring long-term supply continuity.

China Inflames U.S. Ire in Steel Dispute – WSJ


November 30

Stockout impact sales. It is estimated food grocers lose $75 billion in revenue due to products out of stock or not in a condition to be sold. They are now imposing strict delivery terms on suppliers. Changes are required not only on the delivery side of #supplychain but also on the planning processes. Producing what’s selling and not based on the forecast is the first step.

Produce or Else: Wal-Mart and Kroger Get Tough With Food Suppliers on Delays – WSJ


November 24

The food industry is going through disruption created due to changing consumer taste for healthier food. It is creating a rift between retailers and food companies.  Dispute with Walmart is causing Campbell Soup sales to drop.  An effective #supplychain can help companies respond faster to changing consumer demand.

Higher Costs Extend Campbell’s Sales Decline – WSJ


November 20

Power generation industry is getting disrupted because of a rapid shift by governments and companies away from large, fossil fuel-powered plants to renewables.  Solar power and other renewable energy costs are coming down leading to the switch.  #supplychain can help businesses find better ways to meet changing customer demand and remain competitive.

Germany’s Siemens to Slash 6,900 Jobs Amid Shift to Renewable Energy – WSJ


November 15

Customers control the fate of companies. Airlines are grouping to buy and also dictating success or failure of different models. #supplychain play an essential role in meeting customers ever-changing needs.

US private equity firm places near $50 billion jet order with Airbus, one of the biggest aviation deals in history – CNBC

November 13

Last mile (delivery to customer) is critical for all types of business. It is the most expensive part of #supplychain and has significant customer satisfaction impact. Delivery delays during peak season plague retailers in the U.S. and now in China. #supplychain can simplify delivery.

Chinese Buy Yachts, TVs Online to Drive Alibaba Singles’ Day Sales – WSJ


November 11

40% to 50% of world food production is wasted, and we have millions of people who go hungry all around the world. The problem is complicated and becoming acute, but it is a #supplychain problem. New startups are starting to address it.

How to Sell $15,000 of Tenderloin, Fast – WSJ


November 6

Silicon Valley companies seem unable to get their #supplychain ramp up after a successful launch. Tesla continues to struggle with ramping up production of Model 3 frustrating investors and customers. They are unable to provide a forecast when output reaches 10,000 cars per week. Separately, look at the long wait time for iPhone X. Perhaps, it is time to invest in #supplychain capabilities.

Tesla shares drop as Wall Street grows frustrated with production forecasts – CNBC

November 3

ERP implementation is thought to improve #supplychain performance. Supply Chain effectiveness to a large extent depends on design while IT solutions are enablers. Implementing IT solutions alone will not solve supply chain problems – improving design will.

Under Armour Links Sales Decline to Software Upgrade – WSJ


November 1

More and more apparel manufacturers are looking to respond to demand faster by manufacturing near shore. Cutting lead time is the first step in speeding up the supply chain. Producing to market demand instead of the forecast is the next step. To respond to market faster, it’s critical that manufacturing sites produce the products that are being demanded by customers. #supplychain could help.

Nike’s plan to shave a month off its shoe delivery times – Quartz

Nike CEO Mark Parker at the company’s investor day. (Nike)

October 30

What’s the best way to sell to customers? Of course, directly – allows for building a relationship with customers and respond faster to market demand. As brick and mortar retailers continue to close stores, we will find apparel, consumer goods, and consumer electronics companies start to reach out to customers directly. The challenge is to do it cost-effectively as the last mile is typically the most expensive (both delivery and selling perspective). #supplychain could help.

Nike Tells Investors It Will Shift Away From ‘Mediocre’ Retailers – WSJ


October 27

Amazon’s expected entry into pharmacies could disrupt the industry. The industry has been consolidating to increase leverage with drug companies. However, it has not fundamentally changed in years, and new entrants could bring a much-needed focus on customer service. #supplychain will play a critical role in determining the winner.

CVS Makes Blockbuster Aetna Bid – WSJ


October 25

Retail bankruptcies are leaving many suppliers in the lurch during the all-important holiday season. Hasbro and Lego sales are impacted by Toys ‘R’ Us failure. Similarly, apparel and cosmetic suppliers are struggling with Macy’s and other department store closures. #supplychain can help companies find alternate and efficient ways to reach customers.

Hasbro hurt by Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy – CNN Money

October 23

Apple seems to be struggling with OLED (new screen for Apple X) supplies due to its relationship with Samsung.  Though alliances seem out of favor nowadays, they play an important role in success or failure of businesses. Look at Starbucks’ success.  #sourcing can help enterprises become successful with alliances by not only striking a win-win deal but also the day-to-day management of the relationship.

Apple Swallowed a Fly – Bloomberg

October 16

Huawei is likely to become the largest smartphone manufacturer this year. Rivals of Apple are catching up with technology and also customizing to meet customer needs in developing markets while keeping cost down. Incremental innovation alone can’t preserve revenue growth, and competition will catch up eventually. Ability to customize and provide better service with the help of #supplychain can offer a more sustainable competitive advantage.

China’s Huawei could overtake Apple this year in smartphones, top analyst says – CNBC

October 13

Car companies book revenue when they ship vehicles to dealerships.  It is an artificial way of making income and profit look good in the short term while dealers end up with all the inventory. Eventually, these will be sold at a discount and production will be stopped creating a massive whiplash effect throughout #supplychain.  A better way is to respond quickly to market changes and not produce in excess.

GM to Idle Detroit Car Factory Amid Slow Demand – WSJ


October 11

Walmart is improving customer experience in stores and changing return policy.  They are introducing quick checkout counters, more associates in the stores, and industry-leading return policy. Though these changes improve service, they will also impact profit – #supplychain can help.

Walmart wants your returns to take 30 seconds – CNN Money

October 9

Are your customers going to be happy if they do not receive products/services on time?  Innovative companies struggle to support the growth of their new products due to #supplychain bottlenecks.  The shortcut taken to resolve these bottlenecks may come back to haunt later as quality defects and recall.  Investing in #supplychain upfront is an excellent investment to make.

Behind Tesla’s Production Delays: Parts of Model 3 Were Being Made by Hand – WSJ


October 6

With Boeing and Airbus getting involved, drone travel (air taxis) can become a reality.  The vehicle will include electric and autonomous technology and providers such as Uber.  It could disrupt the automotive industry, transportation network, and even city design.  #supplychain will play an essential role in making drone travel a reality.

Boeing Deal Targets Flying Taxis – WSJ


October 4

Solar cell capacity increased by 50% in 2016 and costs reduced by half in the last three years. International Energy Agency (IEA) states that solar power plant additions are higher than that of wind, that of coal, that of gas and that of nuclear. What does it mean? A cleaner world, reduced dependence on oil and related conflicts, and more buying power for poor. It will also change #supplychain as energy cost (transportation) becomes less relevant in its design.

New era of solar power is now upon us, IEA says – CNBC

October 2

The automotive industry is focused on electric and autonomous vehicles as future technologies.  However, development such as drone taxi (vehicles) could completely change the way we think of travel and make cars irrelevant. Imagine not being constrained by roads; drone vehicles could improve productivity (reduce wait time) thereby change the way we design transportation network and cities.  It will still result in a huge logistical challenge.  #supplychain capabilities will be needed for companies to win with new technologies.

 Dubai tests drone taxi service – BBC

Photo: Reuters

September 29

Puerto Rico is a hub of Pharmaceutical manufacturing, and hurricane Maria’s devastation will impact the supply of these goods. The challenge is not only to catch up on lost production days but also to find a way to get the shipments out of the island. Though the industry typically carries 100+ days of inventory, the inefficiency of #supplychain makes it difficult to get the right product to the right place. It is time for Pharma to rethink its supply chain strategies – centralization of manufacturing, dependence on distributors, etc.

Baxter Says Saline Shipments Disrupted in Hurricane-Wracked Puerto Rico – WSJ

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg News

September 27

CMOs are concerned about ad fraud (fake clicks), and wrong placement. The problem is not only just about reviewing agency contracts but also about auditing the underlying advertising data to hold agencies accountable. There is a greater need for marketing organizations to collaborate with other parts of the company particularly #sourcing teams. In turn, sourcing teams have to develop capabilities that could support evolving nature of marketing – analytics and supplier collaboration more than competitive bidding.

Chief marketers have ‘significant fear’ about ad fraud — and here’s what media agencies need to do about it – CNBC

September 25

Why more and more Private Equity held companies filing for bankruptcy? For example – Toys “R” Us, Payless, Gymboree, Mervyn’s, and others have filed bankruptcy over the last few years. Financial engineering alone is not sufficient to generate value from the acquired assets. #supplychain and #sourcing (beyond headcount reduction) can help PE firm get value from operations.

Toys “R” Us files for bankruptcy – Economist


September 22

Fed’s Quantitative Easing (money printing) program has been popular with investors as it increased stock market and real estate prices but has been disastrous from #supplychain perspective. The easy money led to a proliferation of non-sustainable business models. Think of Uber’s ability to lose $700 – $800 million every quarter, floating oil inventory in barges, and highly levered businesses that can’t withstand headwind. As Fed reduces exposure, there is a real risk of supply continuity and need for fixing business models.

Fed economist: ‘No evidence that QE works’ as central bank starts unwinding program – CNBC

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

September 20

Most mergers are justified based on promises of cost cuts and synergies. Unfortunately, these do not tend to materialize. Why does this happen? The work does not disappear just because two companies merged. To reduce headcount, the work processes have to be made efficient – very difficult when two companies with different processes merge. Initial claims of headcount reduction show up later as system failures, recalls, or regulatory violations which then leads to additional hiring. #supplychain can improve utilization through process improvements – in-house and with external providers.

T-Mobile U.S. explores takeover of Sprint: source – Reuters

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustrations

September 18

Companies and Government Agencies have invested billions of dollars in #supplychain technologies over the last 10 – 15 years. Did these investments pay off? Mostly no. Technology by itself does not drive business outcome. RFID provided visibility to inventory but could not stop inventory pile up. To drive business outcome, supply chain needs to connect with corporate strategy. This disconnect cannot be bridged by technology alone.

Technology Will Drive Supply Chain Digitalization – EPS News

Source: Gartner (September 2017)

September 15

Pharmaceutical innovation is starting to slow down even for fabled Genentech. R&D driven business model is starting to show limitations. With products getting out of patent and proliferation of generics, the industry is prime for disruption. #supplychain can help Pharma find better ways to meet customer demand.

Roche slumps on another drug setback as sales forecasts come into question – CNBC

AlexRaths | Getty Images

September 13

Apple X will not be available for sale until early Nov – two months after launch. The delay is primarily due to problems with the supply of OLED screen and facial recognition software. Two months wait may not mean much for die hard Apple fans but could erode revenue as competitors catch up with their similar products. Though Apple is known for its #supplychain prowess, it is starting to have trouble with vendors who could put its leadership position at risk.

Apple iPhone X delay could make next earnings ‘substantially’ lower, analyst says – CNBC

Source: Apple

September 11

Why are private labels becoming prevalent? The fall out from the retail competition is now catching up with CPG suppliers. Retailers are promoting store name brands to attract and meet consumer demand. With the quality of branded products being no better than private labels, CPG companies have to find a way to retain customer loyalty. Spending more money on advertising is not helping. #supplychain can provide a different set of tools for competition.

How Kirkland Signature Became One of Costco’s Biggest Success Stories – WSJ


September 6

Is there a reverse trend in globalization? Multi-national companies are struggling in China – Amazon, Apple, KFC, McDonalds and many others. As competition is heating up in China, many Chinese enterprises are making an entry in the U.S. – Alibaba, Great Wall and others. Their success to a large extent will depend on their ability to service western consumers – different requirements than Chinese consumers.

In Eyeing Jeep, Chinese Auto Maker Is Spurred by Roadblocks at Home – WSJ


September 5

The entrance of Amazon, European discount chains, and online grocers is disrupting grocery industry. Krogers and others are responding by copying some of the business models of competitors – online ordering options and testing new delivery services through Shipt, and Uber. The challenge is to hold on to customers by meeting demands for freshness and convenience. #supplychain capabilities will tip the balance either towards new entrants or traditional grocers.

Kroger Seeks to Repel Amazon’s Onslaught – WSJ


August 30

Is supply base consolidation a good thing?  Look at the impact of supply base consolidation in the Oil & Gas industry.  It reduces competition, innovation, and the ability for industry to respond to market changes quickly and efficiently.  However, supply base consolidation is typically a reaction to OEMs sourcing strategy, which prefers large suppliers over smaller and pricing pressures that tend to drive smaller providers out of business.  The sourcing practices need to change to encourage healthy competition that will help companies to address disruptions.

United Technologies Nears Deal to Buy Rockwell Collins for More Than $20 Billion – WSJ


August 28

Why is Amazon struggling in China?  Competition is intense, membership programs are not popular, and some of the technology lags behind its competitors.  The bigger challenge is that Amazon’s offering does not attract consumers.  The same concerns are true for other global companies struggling in China.  Catering to local demand instead of going with global offerings, and developing #supplychain capabilities that support local customization will be key to winning many of these markets.

Why Amazon Isn’t Ready for Prime Time in China – WSJ


August 23

U.S. is looking to change trade agreements – NAFTA, with South Korea and China.  What does it mean for #supplychain?  A profound change – a move away from centralized manufacturing in lower wages countries to smaller size production that could effectively cater to local markets.  Customization and supply chain segmentation will play a critical role – an area that hasn’t been a focus for supply chain leaders.

Can the U.S. Scrap Its Trade Deal With South Korea? – WSJ


August 16

Why is Amazon focusing on India? Revenue growth drives Amazon’s stock prices, and India provides a great untapped market. However, the consumer preferences are different, competition is intense, and infrastructure is not as good. Amazon will have to modify its business model to succeed in India.

Amazon, SoftBank Battle for One of Last Untapped Internet Markets – WSJ


August 11

Why do start-ups struggle with #supplychain? Their operations are small to get a tailored solution from an outsourced provider, and they lack talent/knowledge in-house. Some of the issues that plague larger companies, plague start-ups as well. CEOs/leadership teams do not understand supply chain and its challenges. They spend too much money and time on innovation, and don’t focus enough on capabilities that deliver the innovation to market. Most time it’s not fatal unless of course, the supply chain is core to your business and your competition is very good at it.

Blue Apron’s Costs Eat Profit; Shares Sour – WSJ


August 9

In the face of competition from Amazon, office supply companies are experimenting with same day delivery.  Does increasing service level improve revenue and profitability?  Not necessarily.  The trick is to do it in a finically prudent way by developing a service model that competitors will find difficult to match and then getting customers to pay for the increased service.  Otherwise, the advantage will be short lived and become the industry standard, thereby increasing cost for everyone.

Office Depot introduces same‑day delivery in three markets – Digital Commerce 360

August 7

The food industry is in the midst of disruption as consumers demand fresher and natural food. The industry is responding with traditional ways – M&As and cost reduction to improve profitability while revenues are declining. Companies that are successful in disruptive times such as Amazon, Zara, TJ Maxx, Starbucks, Airbus, and others have used #sourcing and #supply chain as a competitive tool.

Kraft Heinz, Kellogg Latest Food Makers to See Sales Drop – WSJ


August 4

Why do M&As fail?  Most M&As assume synergies from consolidation of operations to justify the purchase price.  Unless overhead costs are significant and there is a large unutilized capacity, the complexity of combined operations can have an entirely different effect.  #supplychain focused on improving customer experience to grow revenue and increased labor utilization to reduce cost can deliver the desired results.

Teva Pharmaceutical’s Stock Tumbles on Outlook – WSJ

August 2

What does U.S. auto sales decline mean? A significant jump in dealer inventory and discounts, and plant closure and vendor failure upstream. Most #supplychains are designed like a freight train with no visibility to tracks in front. If tracks go missing, there is a pile up that cascade throughout the network. With the availability of real time sales information, companies can adjust their production and avoid inventory build-up if they choose to use forward looking demand data instead of forecast data created from historical information for planning.

U.S. Auto Makers Report Steep Sales Declines in July – WSJ


July 31

Why innovative companies struggle to meet rapid demand growth for their new products thereby allowing competitors to piggyback their hard earned success? They invest a lot in R&D but fail to invest adequately in #supplychain. Take for example Tesla’s challenges with meeting growing demand for Model 3. They have to gear up in-house manufacturing while ensuring an adequate supply of parts from suppliers. The potential delay/wait time will test customer loyalty while competitors launch their products.

Tesla Model 3 Arrives as Elon Musk Warns of ‘Manufacturing Hell’ – WSJ


July 27

With countries requiring local manufacturing, #supplychain leaders will have to make distributed manufacturing work.  For example, without offsetting tax benefits, a key challenge for Apple would be to stop the cross flow of their cheaper products from China and India to the U.S. market.  Customizing for local markets and segmenting supply base to support different production sites/markets would be important.

Trump Says Apple CEO Has Promised to Build Three Manufacturing Plants in U.S. – WSJ


July 25

Another regulated industry, Pharmaceutical, poised for disruption?  It is attracting new companies such as Samsung and Amazon.  High-Tech companies such as Apple and Google are rumored to be hiring Pharma R&D talent.  We could expect new business models, particularly in generics and biologics, with #supplychain playing a key role.

Samsung Releases Arthritis Drug in First Foray Into U.S. Pharmaceuticals – WSJ


July 21

Can #supplychain help retailers survive current market conditions? BestBuy averted failure by price matching Amazon, improving #supplychain responsiveness, and partnering with high-tech companies to create a “stores within stores” in addition to restructuring its business. It is successfully targeting impatient customers that wish to have products immediately by improving delivery times.

Why the grim reaper of retail hasn’t come to claim Best Buy – LA Times

PHOTO: Gerry Broome / Associated Press

July 19

Why are companies importing at a fast pace when retail sales and consumer confidence are down? Most companies continue to use historical data to forecast demand. Given low forecast accuracies, they do not provide proper guidance on future. A #supplychain driven by actual sales and not forecast has shown to make it more responsive to market demand.

Cargo Imports Surged at U.S. Seaports in June – WSJ


July 17

Disruptions are becoming common even in industries that are regulated such as Aircraft manufacturing. Companies in China, Russia, and Canada are making an entry in narrow-body market challenging the growth engine of Airbus and Boeing. #supplychain can help businesses address disruptions.

July 12

Telsa is taking an innovative approach to for post-sales support for its mass marketed Model 3.  It is adding technicians to visit customer homes – a departure from the industry norm.  Customer service (pre or post sales) remain key to winning and #supplychain plays an important role.

Tesla Readies for Model 3 Launch by Adding Hundreds of Repair Vans – WSJ


July 6

Why do innovative companies (like Tesla) fail to meet the demand for its products?  They invest a lot in R&D/innovation but little on #supplychain that takes innovation to market.  During rapid growth, in-house or external bottlenecks reduce revenue and profit potential and give competition time to catch up.

Tesla’s Second-Quarter Sales Hit by Production Shortfall – WSJ


June 29

Global companies are failing to adapt to local markets thereby giving breed to new competition, who could eventually disrupt world markets. Chinese smartphone manufacturers are top players in China and Africa. In addition to the cost advantage, they are quickly providing features that are valued by locals. How long do you think it would take them to disrupt U.S. and other developed markets? #supplychain can help companies adapt to local markets by balancing customization vs. complexity and preempt disruption.

Two SIM Cards and Better Selfies: How China’s Smartphones Are Taking On Apple – WSJ

June 26

Why is globalization failing? It is not nationalist desires to retain jobs, but the economics are no longer favoring global companies. The advantages of scale and cost arbitrage have diminished. On the other hand, #supplychain complexity is increasing cost as companies try to meet local demand with global platforms. They are unable to compete with local businesses. #supplychain, if designed correctly, can help companies balance complexity and cost effectively to win in the global markets.

The retreat of the global company – The Economist

June 21

With 33 quarters of same-store sales growth, TJ Maxx is not focusing online or using big data to figure out what consumers want. Why are they not impacted by Amazon’s onslaught?  It is their sourcing organization that buys merchandise to keep customers coming back for deals.  #supplychain and #sourcing can help companies compete in disruptive times.

How to Survive the Retail Crisis: A Master Class from T.J. Maxx – WSJ


June 19

Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods has led to drop in Grocery companies share prices. Are the fears realistic? Though Amazon is a fierce competitor with a focus on customer service, the #supplychain for groceries is different from products sold at Amazon. Managing brick and mortar stores is new for Amazon where overheads are high, versus online where variable costs make the difference. One thing is sure Amazon will learn and make it better for consumers.

Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion – WSJ


June 16

Can #supplychain help companies win online? Zara’s supply chain capabilities have helped it to outperform the competition and now helping it succeed online. Great article in WSJ on how Zara created online presence while other retailers are struggling to build e-commerce capabilities alongside traditional stores.

How Zara Is Defying a Broad Retail Slump – WSJ


June 13

Does currency devaluation help exports? It depends on pass through components (imported) in exports. Higher the pass through lower is the impact of currency devaluation. Excellent article in WSJ on the impact of UK’s currency devaluation on exports.

When Currencies Fall, Export Growth Is Supposed to Follow—Until Now – WSJ


May 31

Why do innovative companies struggle to meet rapid growth and allow competitors to catch up? They invest in R&D but fail to invest in #supplychain that take new product/services to market. For example, Nintendo’s Switch console is taking the gaming world by storm, but the company is struggling to get supplies of parts to meet rapid demand growth.

Nintendo Battles Apple for Parts as Switch Demand Rises – WSJ



May 24

Oil demand is getting impacted by electric and more efficient vehicles. The potential disruption comes from solar energy and natural gas. It could affect businesses and economies that are dependent on oil, environment, and geopolitical conflicts. #supplychain and #logistics could see significant changes as well.

Get Ready for Peak Oil Demand – WSJ



May 22

Does economy of scale (bigger is better/cheaper) provide competitive advantage? The concept of scale has been a bedrock principle in business strategy – an argument used in most large mergers. With customization demanded by consumers, the scale can hamper success. Excellent article in WSJ about Subaru’s approach and its CEO’s view on increasing size of production. #supplychain can make the trade-off between customization and cost work.

Subaru Is Betting Big on Staying Small – WSJ


May 18

Why do global companies fail in emerging markets? All analysis point to one factor, they fail to tailor products for the market and focus on their global platform – a trade-off between customization and cost. #supplychain design can make the trade-off work.

General Motors Will Stop Selling Cars in India – WSJ



May 15

Does automation reduce cost and improve quality? Every time my U.S. clients visit their partners in Japan, they come back with suggestions that automation will improve their manufacturing performance. Though automation reduces variation (6 sigma) and looks impressive, it does not necessarily improve quality or efficiency. The cost and quality depend on overall #supplychain strategy to meet demand and fine tuning of parameters. Would be interesting to see outcomes from Tesla’s experiment with automation.

Why Tesla Could Become the Next Apple – Fortune



May 10

Supplier risk is becoming a key challenge for corporations with increasing size of vendors. Take a look at the potential fallout from Toshiba’s bankruptcy on the high-tech industry. Time to rethink vendor consolidation strategies.

Toshiba Partners Brace for Possible Bankruptcy Filing – WSJ



May 8

Wal-Mart’s effort to capture demand data from consumer homes could revolutionize supply chain. It would allow better anticipation of demand and provide replenishment options to consumers before they are aware of their need. Adoption would depend on how these services are sold to consumers and regulatory framework.

Wal-Mart Wants to Know When Your Milk Is About to Expire – WSJ



May 3

Automotive demand has declined over the last two months resulting in high inventory and price cuts. The demand swings may be due to industry cycle, past promotions, or more used cars entering the market. It would create a significant whiplash throughout #supplychain with plant closures and financial distress. Improving responsiveness is key to ensuring the long-term health of the industry and its suppliers.

Auto Makers Report Steep Sales Declines in April – WSJ

May 1

Consumer online buying is upsetting another traditional industry – automotive dealerships. The focus is moving away from real estate holdings to streamlining of #supplychain. Dealerships are being used for showcasing then delivering the cars from a central warehouse when a final sale is made. Perhaps, we will soon see direct delivery from plant to consumers.

Auto Dealers Decide Cars Are Taking Up Too Much Prime Space – WSJ



April 28

Does vertical integration provide lower cost than buying from suppliers? Customization and scale play a significant role in the trade-off. If you are buying highly customized products and in smaller volumes, it may make sense to manufacture in-house or owning specialized tools. Buying from suppliers make sense if you purchase a large volume or standardized products. These decisions require careful analysis.

Boeing Shaking Up Supply Chain – WSJ



April 24, 2017

Increasing overhead costs is making brick and mortar stores more uncompetitive versus online retail, thereby accelerating store closures. Retailers rushed to open stores when interest rates were low. However, rising interest rates are increasing overhead costs. Store costs could be reduced by making construction and operations efficient – #sourcing could help.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Shuttering at a Record Pace – WSJ


April 18, 2017

Companies in retail, pharmaceuticals and other industries have raised prices incessantly to compensate for dropping profits. They are learning that this is not a sustainable long-term strategy and eventually there are consumer/regulatory pushbacks, even towards brands such as Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus, and others. #supplychain can address issues behind falling profits and set up companies for success in the new environment.

Neiman Marcus Finds Even Wealthy Shoppers Want Better Deals – WSJ



April 13, 2017

As protectionism gains traction in the U.S. and other major economies, #supplychain will play an important in ensuring country of origin requirements are met for favorable tax rates. The challenges are more pronounced in industries which are known for their country of origin such as Swiss watches.

Some Swiss Watchmakers Are Ticked Over New Rules – WSJ



April 4, 2017

Many industries (automotive, consumer goods, retail, tech, and others) face the problem of bloated inventory, and they blame the unexpected slide in sales or demand. Is it the demand that dropped or forecasts were wrong? Analysis has shown that underlying demand does not change dramatically, forecasts are usually the culprit as they tend to reflect hope more than reality. Perhaps, a better way to plan is to ditch forecast and move to demand-based planning/pull based replenishment.

Auto Makers March Sales Raise Concern About Inventory, Pricing



April 3, 2017

Business models of leading companies are static; built on three legs – incremental innovation, marketing, and global expansion. How long do you think Apple can maintain growth by updating iPhone? As businesses get disrupted by new technology or startups, there is a need to rethink the traditional business model. Maybe a fourth leg encompassing #supplychain or #sourcing could help.

Foxconn Posts First-Ever Annual Sales Decline as iPhone Sales Lag – WSJ



March 30, 2017

Rollback of globalization is happening from Brexit to Beijing to Washington. Older business models created to take advantage of globalization have to change. #supplychain and #sourcing have a critical role to play not only for business continuity but also for providing a competitive edge in respective markets.

U.S. Weighs Tariffs Against Vespas, Cheeses in Trade Beef With EU – WSJ



March 26, 2017

Apple will start production of iPhones in India over the next couple of months. It plans to introduce older models; a better strategy could be to customize products and #supplychain to local market demand. A painful lesson learned by consumer goods, automotive and other global companies.

Apple to Start Making iPhones in India Over Next Two Months – WSJ



March 22, 2017

Innovative companies find it difficult to retain the lead. Though FedEx’s revenue is growing, it is challenged with integrating its TNT Express acquisition, adjusting to more expensive e-commerce deliveries, and competition from Amazon. Rethinking #supplychain approach could help.

FedEx Braced for a Holiday Crush That Didn’t Come – WSJ



March 18

Autonomous driving is disrupting car industry with parts manufacturers starting to play a bigger role. As the influence of auto manufacturers reduces on #supplychain, we could expect to see the long-awaited transformation in a very traditional industry.

Big Tech Reshaping Auto Supply Chain With Latest Deals – WSJ



March 9, 2017

The aircraft industry has been plagued with supply issues. Now, Boeing is stress testing its #supplychain with suppliers. A significant step in assuring supplies to customers.

Boeing Confident On Output Increase – WSJ



March 2, 2017

Retailers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Trying to reduce cost by keeping inventories low and then lose sales due to lack of stocks on shelves. Moving from a forecast based planning to demand-based planning could address the apparent contradiction in #supplychain choices. Excellent article on Best Buy challenges between inventory and revenue!

Best Buy Hurt by Holiday Shortages – WSJ



Feb 26, 2017

Processed food industry is getting disrupted by startups focused on healthier and less-processed foods. Business models need to change – #supplychain and #sourcing could provide alternate ways to meet consumers evolving needs. Excellent article on the industry disruption!

Big Food Looks to Startups for Ideas, Innovation – WSJ


Feb 22, 2017

Changing consumer food preference and inability of 3G capital to drive additional savings pushed Kraft to offer merger with Unilever. #supplychain can do more than drive savings – it can improve quality, and bring additional products and services to market. Excellent article on the challenges faced by Kraft and 3G Capital playbook.

Kraft Heinz’s Interest in Unilever Comes Right Out of 3G Capital’s Playbook – WSJ



Feb 19, 2017

Rural America is changing buying habit from retail to online shopping. It is helping farmers reduce cost. A trend that potentially benefits Amazon. Excellent article.

E-Commerce for Farmers: Shopping Online for $26,000 of Herbicides – WSJ



Feb 15, 2017

If you wondered why prices online and Walmart stores are different, it is because they had two buying teams. Walmart is now consolidating the #purchasing organizations—a good idea for buying products.

Exclusive: Wal-Mart to tear down walls between store, online buying operations – sources – WSJ

Walmart signage is displayed outside a company's store in Chicago

Feb 10, 2017

Food companies are optimizing delivery (last mile) to reduce costs. The article highlights the risk to sales due to Kellogg’s decision to stop delivery to stores. There is an alternative way to manage delivery that optimizes sales with cost, by segmenting customer base, optimizing routes and refining incentive structure.

Kellogg Revises Distribution Method – WSJ



Feb 7, 2017

Excellent article on #logistics industry trend – warehouse employment is increasing whereas transportation employment is decreasing. The trend towards increasing warehouses/inventory is concerning.

Freight Transportation Companies Slashed Payrolls in January – WSJ



Feb 1, 2017

Excellent article on Amazon’s effort in shoring up its #supplychain by investing in air cargo, trucks and ocean freight in direct competition to FedEx and UPS. The move will provide more control and may reduce costs for Amazon but unclear on customer service benefits. Plans First Air Cargo Hub – WSJ



January 27, 2017

With increasing eCommerce shipment, retailers are streamlining their #supplychain by direct/drop shipment from suppliers. On the risk side, the move may disintermediate retailers with no clear value-add. Excellent article on the industry trend.

‘Drop Shipping’ Looks Set to Go Mainstream as More Retailers Get on Board – WSJ