Email engagement rates in 2020 were higher than they have been in six years. And new functionality and data analysis tools have strengthened email as a marketing and customer communication channel. Brands can now be far more strategic and personalised thanks to having a better understanding of what the end-user likes and wants, writes KARYN STRYBOS.
Even though many businesses might have been tempted to focus primarily on social media activities, the reality is that this, along with public relations and email, must form part of an integrated campaign to be truly effective.
While social media and PR are used to great effect for creating awareness, email can nurture the relationship to conversion and retaining customers thereafter.
Email has certainly become more dynamic than what was technically possible in the past. Now, interactive visual elements can be introduced to make this communication platform stand out. For example, the introduction of product blocks that include pricing and click-through directly to the site brings the online shopping experience directly to the customer’s inbox.
Advances in automation have also greatly benefitted email. Communications can now be delivered via automated journeys that adapt based on the users’ engagement and behaviour to save on time and resources while providing a seamless and much more personalised experience – at scale.
More organisations are becoming comfortable with this way of working as it frees up their specialists to focus on strategy and the actual content that goes into each message. For instance, when it comes to online shopping, automated emails such as abandoned cart, order notifications, and loyalty reward reminders can help to keep a brand top of mind while enticing the shopper to either complete a purchase or to purchase more.
Here are some of the other major elements impacting email marketing at the moment:
Trends from the Covid-19 pandemic show a rise in marketers getting involved in communications after the sale with email playing a vital part in this. Furthermore, the importance of email in a distributed work environment cannot be ignored. Pre-onboarding, onboarding, and exit journeys can be set up to ensure that the company keeps two-way lines of communication open with staff. This is essentially when employees are not coming into the office as often as they used to.
Fundamentally, email meets people on their terms when they are ready to engage. With the rise of personalised content, and more effective use of data and automation, brands can share highly relevant content targeted to the right person at the right time.
Compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) is set for 1 July 2021. This means companies are under pressure to ensure all the relevant data protection boxes, among others, have been ticked.
However, POPIA will not put marketers out of jobs or kill marketing initiatives. Instead, it could result in improved return on investment as databases will contain people who are genuinely interested in engaging with a brand. Yes, lead lists may be smaller, but the quality of those contacts will be better.
Of course, marketers must educate themselves around the law and conduct a proper risk assessment of the activities they are considering. Now is not the time to rush things, but rather get compliance right or risk facing significant financial fines and other penalties.
Email engagement rates last year were higher than they have been in six years. They are now sitting at averages of a 3.51% click-through rate and a 15.23% click-to-open-rate. Unsubscribes reduced by 14% and complaints by 67% when looking at the overall average.
Hardly surprising, but the pandemic saw desktop use dropping substantially while mobile and Web have become more popular options. This accentuated the already existing trend away from desktop computers while also illustrating how flexible email is as a medium with responsive layouts that can tailor the content for any device size.
A new (email) world
By now, companies must realise that email is not just about newsletters but communication in general. It therefore must form part of the overarching strategy on what the business is trying to achieve. Understanding the needs of existing (and potential) customers and crafting content that is both interesting and valuable is key. Email helps the organisation reach its audience on their terms when they choose to engage as opposed to forcing them when they are trying to relax or disengage with the real world.
It is clear that the marketing environment has changed not only because of the pandemic but also due to evolving technology. This is resulting in several key trends to take note of that will likely shape email communications in the months to come.
Marketers will spend more time than before helping to upsell and retain customers. As mentioned, POPIA will have a positive effect on email and engagement. Email automation will strengthen with brands seeing significant value in integrating their existing systems into their communication platform for an even more personalised approach. This can result in higher retention rates, increase in sales productivity, and more conversions.
By using email journeys that respond to customer behaviours, a company can set itself apart from its competitors. And in these challenging economic conditions, this becomes a critical business advantage.
Trends from the Covid-19 pandemic show a rise in marketers getting involved in communications after the sale with email playing a vital part in this.
By using email journeys that respond to customer behaviours, a company can set itself apart from its competitors. And in these challenging economic conditions, this becomes a critical business advantage.
BIO Karyn Strybos is Marketing Manager at Everlytic. She is a passionate marketer who thrives in an innovative, creative, and forward-thinking environment.
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Cyber-threats are increasing with the transformation of digital life in the wake of the pandemic. A risk-based approach is needed to safeguard the software and systems that underlie digital supply chains. The procurement process, third-party agreements and source code are areas of concern, write GEORGES DE MOURA and CHRISTOPHE BLASSIAU.
The ongoing digital transformation has opened up a whole new way of living and working. As deeper performance insights and new levels of connectivity allow businesses to reap the benefits of breakthrough technologies, the world is becoming faster, more flexible and more efficient.
This shift is creating a global ecosystem where physical and digital things are increasingly connected, from critical infrastructure assets to people and data.
A study by Gartner finds that in 2019, 60% of organisations worked with more than 1 000 third parties, and those networks are only expected to grow. Other research by Deloitte shows that 40% of manufacturers had their operations affected by a cyber-incident during 2019. And in 2018, the average financial impact of a data breach in the manufacturing industry was $7.5 million.
Moreover, global technology supply chains are increasingly diverse and complex, resulting in changes in the overall risk for critical systems that support national defence, vital emergency services and critical infrastructure.
In December 2020, a global cyber-intrusion campaign was uncovered by a leading cybersecurity firm that compromised first the source code and then subsequently updates to SolarWinds’ Orion Platform, a widely deployed IT management software product. The corrupted update was downloaded by thousands of SolarWinds customers and spanned US government agencies, critical infrastructure entities and private-sector organisations. Though this cyber-attack may be unprecedented in scale and sophistication, it is consistent with a number of persistent trends in using supply chain vectors. This incident further reinforced the threat to global digital supply chains and the strategic imperative for public and private sector stakeholders to ensure trust in the digital ecosystem. It is critical that the software that drives the digital ecosystem is both trusted and secured. By reducing the risks and protecting the digital economy, our society will be able to realise the digital dividends of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The following core principles will contribute to a more secure and resilient supply chain and help move the needle on mitigating this complex and multifaceted challenge:
1. Embed security and privacy in the procurement process and life cycle Having a mature third-party risk-management policy and practice will ensure cybersecurity and privacy are constantly considered and addressed with mature, consistent, repeatable and effective measures. These three precepts will embed them in every phase of the life cycle: Cybersecurity and privacy are built-in requirements of the procurement processes from sourcing to off-boarding All procurement contracts shall stipulate and contain clear and precise clauses that enforce continual compliance with cybersecurity and privacy requirements. Security and privacy obligations shall be continuously reviewed and optimised to keep up with the evolving threats.
2. Take a risk-based approach in assessments of third parties A risk-based approach will help guide the third-party acceptance/rejection decision-making process, and helps efficiently and accurately mitigate cybersecurity threats third parties pose to the broader ecosystem. A risk-based approach improves the assessment of third parties’ security posture. By applying risk measurement and ratings tools and other trusted methodologies, organisations can better identify and rank third-party relationships by risk criticality. It ensures an accurate appreciation of risk, helps establish the measures third parties must take to mitigate their risks before entering an agreement with an entity and enable regular and/or continuous security performance monitoring. It contributes to a collaborative and valuable outcome for an organisation and its broader ecosystem. It helps tailor mitigation plans and scale efforts and resources that ensure trustworthy, secure, privacy-protective and resilient products, systems and services. But it also helps third parties better understand gaps in their own security posture and, ultimately, demonstrate their cybersecurity maturity to their customers and stakeholders.
3. Implement a source code policy and secure-by-design development Such a policy aims to reduce the risks around the development, management and distribution of software and software source code, which must go beyond defending intellectual property and address customer impact. It will help protect and strengthen trust in the digital ecosystem so businesses, governments and individuals can all have trust in, contribute to and benefit from the digital economy.
The policy should apply to all source code written by or on behalf of an organisation and must ensure that any source code is not tampered with, does not contain any known unmitigated security vulnerabilities and contains a licence that is compatible with the company’s other policies. It also prevents source code from being dynamically linked to third-party hosted source repositories. When third-party code is used as part of a software/firmware solution, the organisation is responsible for change management as part of a secure development process.
The policy also controls and governs all aspects of how the source code is stored and transmitted, including, but not limited to authorization and access, residency, protection at rest and protection in transit. Ensuring compliance to this policy will help reduce the threat of source code leakage, improves secure access and enables the traceability of any third-party code. Additionally, source-code development must include security and privacy in the design phase, and evidence of threat modelling must be documented.
The policy should be based on widely recognised frameworks such as the NIST framework to establish secure-by-design development practices, covering four areas: 1. Ensure that the organisation’s people, processes and technology are prepared to perform secure software development at the organisation level and, in some cases, for each individual project. 2. Protect all components of the product from tampering and unauthorised access 3. Produce well-secured products that have minimal security vulnerabilities in its releases.
4. Identify vulnerabilities in product releases and respond appropriately to address them and prevent similar vulnerabilities from occurring in the future.
By regularly assessing the security posture of third parties, from early sourcing stages, to security due diligence and periodically throughout the duration of a collaborative relationship, an organisation will be able to maintain trust with its customers and business partners across the supply and value chains.
A common understanding and approach to existing and emerging threats will enable industry and government actors to implement appropriate countermeasures to mitigate supply chain security risks. In the fallout of the SolarWinds incident, it is crucial all stakeholders in the supply and value chains embrace a risk-informed cybersecurity approach to ensure a secure and resilient ecosystem.
The IMM Graduate School, one of Africa’s foremost online education providers specialising in marketing, supply chain and business disciplines, has added two new supply chain management qualifications to its arsenal: A Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management and BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management. For more information, click here.
Global technology supply chains are increasingly diverse and complex, resulting in changes in the overall risk for critical systems that support national defence, vital emergency services and critical infrastructure.
By reducing the risks and protecting the digital economy, our society will be able to realise the digital dividends of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
BIO Georges de Moura is Head of Industry Solutions, Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust at the World Economic Forum. Christophe Blassiau is Senior Vice-President, Cybersecurity and Global CISO, at. Schneider-Electric.
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Unless we build a strong, inclusive economy, South Africa (and every company in South Africa) is in big trouble. Supplier development and transformed supply chains are key to this. GLENDA NEVILL reports.
The work many South African companies do in terms of supplier development is quite “remarkable” because they have to make both their SMME suppliers, as well as their customers, the focus of their supply chain management activities.
Supplier development and supply change management (SCM) don’t sit comfortably together, says IMM Graduate School SCM lecturer Marzia Storpioli. “Typically in SCM, the focus is on superb service to the customer and enhanced customer experience, and not the number of jobs added to a specific sector in the economy and the financial security of the suppliers,” she explains.
That is why initiatives highlighted in the latest Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards are quite “remarkable”.
“Supplier development generally involves achieving a sort of partnership where the buyer achieves lower costs and higher quality and the seller consolidates his business by ensuring continuity of supply for the buyer through innovation,” Storpioli explains.
“This is not generally the case in South Africa’s supplier development programmes because the aim is to uplift small, black-owned and black female-owned businesses. Most often this results in paying slightly higher prices because small businesses are supported. The benefits lie in the number of jobs created or the revenue stream guaranteed to such SMMEs,” she says.
The reasons for doing this are, in the main, aligned to political and socio-economic demands. The Absa Business Day event recognises efforts in developing suppliers in line with B-BBEE initiatives, Storpioli says. “This has little to do with supply chain management itself but rather more about spreading wealth and opportunities through a business’ procurement spend,” she adds. “As a professional I can only applaud what is being done by Absa and commend the winners on their achievements (immensely hard to do in a sluggish economic environment).”
Founder of the awards, Fetola CEO, Catherine Wijnberg, says no company is an island and leaders in business are hyper aware that unless we build a strong, inclusive, economy South Africa (and every company in South Africa) is in big trouble.
“For this, our supply chains need to be local, future-focused and world class,” she says. “Transformation ensures broader participation in the economy, and resultant growth in national wealth and increased wealth and well-being is critical to all our futures.”
Wijnberg says the purpose of the awards is threefold:
To make visible the good work of big businesses
To acknowledge and encourage best practice in supplier development
To encourage collaboration and shared learning, building a community of best practice so that the whole industry can advance
Despite being only three years old, they have had an impact. “We see an increase in corporates collaborating within and between industries. We see that when supplier development is driven as a strategic imperative from the boardroom, there is distinctly greater success and long-term impact. We see that leading companies are passionate about doing supplier development right – going beyond the scorecard to a genuine desire to support lasting growth in the supply chain as a way to build an effective and transformed economy,” Wijnberg points out.
She acknowledges that supplier development is not always the most economical way of doing business but in South Africa, it is vital in the socio-economic sense. So, how do big companies balance economic imperatives with socio-economic ones?
“The Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards are about going beyond the scorecard – so moving away from the tick box of compliance to real strategic thinking,” Wijnberg explaines.
“Investment into supplier development is investing in the future competitive advantage of the company – so, selecting the right suppliers and working together for shared benefit. The decision-making needs to move away from the cost or ticking the supplier development scorecard and become more about the cost of NOT developing competitive, diverse and healthy local suppliers,” she adds.
While there are hundreds of worthy and honest initiatives, IMM Graduate School SCM lecturer, Dr Myles Wakeham, warns against “window dressing”. What is supplier development in a South African context, he asks?
“Some see it as a financial investment in a supply organisation and if that is the case, then quite honestly there are too many charlatans/shady operators in this space. All you have to look at is the failure of B-BBEE, particularly in small to medium enterprises as well as corruption and blatant theft. I do, however, support supplier development in terms of training and helping organisations to become more adept in outsourcing. Give them the fishing rod and help them to fish!”
Wakeham believes medium sized organisations would do a better job if there were some tax incentives to get involved. “Remember that this will become a long-term project and so there should be mutual commitment on both sides,” he says. “Businesses should commit themselves for the medium to long term. Supply chain development is not supplier development so businesses should consider including medium and small entities in their chains. The problem here is that by doing so they will be exposed to greater risk.
“Risk management should be used when assessing supply partner suitability and there should be continued supplier evaluation. There has to be a comprehensive and mutually binding service level agreement (SLA) in place that spells out exactly the mutual obligations of both parties,” says Wakeham.
Still, the challenges are legion, as Wakeham points out. “The unhealthy economy, Covid-19, poor business ethics, the lack of transparency and trust, self-reference criteria, the racial divide, the continuing narrative of costly mistakes in this regard, opposing business cultures and a ‘I look after myself philosophy etc…”
How to overcome all this? “Government support and new business models applicable to the development of suppliers and supply chain development to foster inclusion…”
Wijnberg has some ideas too. “We can reduce the inefficiency in supplier development through increased levels of collaboration between businesses and across industries,” she says. “As more companies move beyond the ticking of supplier development boxes and work together to build a national network of world-class, local suppliers’ funds will be released to do bigger and more impactful work.”
There are also plans afoot to bring small and medium enterprises on board, Wijnberg reveals. “We have lots of smaller businesses already playing their role in supplier development and local supplier support. In 2021 we plan to encourage this with recognition for SMEs that support the transformation of their own supply chains,” she says.
Wijnberg acknowledges winners of the overall award, the Spar Group, for its commitment to local economic growth via their rural farming supply chain. “While their programme is far from being the largest, their inspirational approach shows strategic leadership commitment, aligning company purpose with actual delivery of local economic growth,” she says.
“Collaboration with local and international role players in the development of their rural vegetable farming scheme, the active enabling of these small farmers to access competitive supply chains and the vision for community-owned facilities illustrates an inclusive, strategic approach which embodies the spirit of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards.”
Distell, too, stood out this year with places across a range of categories and their commitment to stay the distance with small suppliers despite the ravages of Covid-19, she says. “This long-term commitment to building healthy supply chains is central to their future strategic advantage and makes them leaders to watch and emulate.”
And then there’s the V&A Waterfront who “showed why they are leaders in the retail precinct industry, with their project that actively brings ‘buy-local’ opportunities for small suppliers alongside international brands. The V&A are a great example of innovative collaborative thinking as a way to strengthen the long-term, competitive advantage of their mall”.
Newcomer Award: V&A Waterfront for its Joy from Africa to the World programme. They partnered with 140 artisans and smaller suppliers – at every level of the supply chain – to reimagine their festive season décor. The category runner-up is Goodyear.
Local Manufacturing Award: V&A Waterfront for its investment of R336 million in small suppliers representing 38% of their total procurement spend. Runner up was Tiger Brands.
Youth Development Award: Distellfor the group’s Green Up Recycling and Bansela Taverner programmes, which provided 320 job opportunities to mostly youths. Runner-up was Tiger Brands.
Black Women Development Award: Empact Group has 30% of total procurement spend going to SMME’s – of which 39% was channelled to support black women suppliers. Runner-up was the V&A Waterfront.
Rural and Township Development Award: SPAR Group Ltd won the award for their SPAR Rural Hub programme in which markets have been created to support small-scale farmers in the production and sale of their vegetable products. Runner-up is Distell.
Skills of the Future (4IR) Award: Unilever South Africa for their Isazi Farming Technology project that is providing technological solutions in the agriculture sector through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Runner-up was Distell.
Collaboration Award: This year’s joint winners were Distell and Tiger Brands.
Small Supplier Development Award: SABwith runner-up being Goodyear.
Impact Award: It acknowledges a company whose supplier development initiatives have substantially impacted the value chain. This year’s winner is Tiger Brands, with Distell being named runner-up.
Overall Winner: A discretionary award for the company that stands out as the leader in supplier development in South Africa. With their purpose-driven strategy to address challenges such as food security, nutrition, job creation and transformation, this year’s winner is SPAR Group Ltd. Distellwas named as the runner-up.
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Current disruptions have brought to light the fragility of our supply chains, says MARZIA STORPIOLI. And the volatility is set to continue for quite some time. What to do?
There’s not doubt volatility, turbulence and uncertainty will continue, and probably increase in the decades ahead, and the ‘business as usual mentality’ will need to be replaced with business seeking stability in the face of disruption.
Current disruptions have brought to light the fragility of our supply chains. For the past 20 years, the focus has been on cutting costs along each link in the chain. Unfortunately, this has also expunged any flexibility or resilience (the ability to withstand shocks to the system) in supply chains.
The question now is, how do we retain cost efficiency but reintroduce flexibility and elasticity into supply chains?
Supply chain suppleness – revisited
Just In Time (JIT) has been seen as the model of supply chain superiority, but this is no longer the case. The disruption of supply chains by the coronavirus pandemic showed that this method of inventory control, which brings material into the production process, warehouse or customer just in time to be used, has its limitations.
Some elements of JIT are good and should be translated into the reshaping of the new models for supply chains, but many of the ‘credos’ of JIT will need to be redesigned and new thinking brought into supply chain management.
One of its weaknesses (and other similar methodologies) was that the environmental impact of JIT changes to supply chains was not considered or measured. This is no longer feasible. Consumers are no longer willing to accept ‘due to internal considerations….’ as an excuse for out-of-stock situations.
What will the supply chain of the future look like?
Firstly, the supplier base must be widened to include more suppliers for key/critical items. There should be reduced focus on cost reduction and a move to find a balance between acceptable costs and acceptable inventory levels. This should be done –with customer in mind, rather than the company’s bottom line only.
There should be greater visibility and sharing of information between and among supply chain members e.g. greater trust less ‘protectionism’.
We need to rethink strategies on essential goods and services. For example: chemicals used in sanitiser products – should they be imported because the supplier is cheaper, or should we manufacture the lion’s share in South Africa to reduce reliance on globalised sources?
More joint ventures are required to leverage off each other’s strengths. In other words, we need less outsourcing and more capacity sharing.
A move to on-shoring production of critical items (items critical to national security, health, economic prosperity) is needed.
For example, Sasol has always been able to produce chemicals – world class – why shouldn’t they be incentivised to develop their production to encompass chemicals currently being imported from China (due to some economic cooperation agreement between South Africa and China)?
The South African textile industry has a track record of producing high quality material. Why are we destroying that capacity by importing textile products from China?
Again, South Africa is capable of producing medical quality personal protection equipment. We shouldn’t need to import PPE from abroad.
A trend is developing where businesses collaborate with their competitors, leveraging each other’s unique strengths, buffering their weaknesses and moving closer to becoming ‘demand chains’. This means focusing on customers (outward looking) rather than focusing on internal business efficiencies (inward looking).
There must be a change in relationships with suppliers. It is no longer rational to keep adversarial relationships going, and more important to work on collaborative relationships – the ‘we are in this together’ mindset, as opposed to the traditional ‘beat suppliers down to the lowest price without a thought for their sustainability’.
And that’s just to start with…
BIO: Marzia Storpioli is Lecturer: Supply Chain Management and Programme manager: BCom International Supply Chain Management at the IMM Graduate School.
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The recent outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Supply Chain Management (SCM), as a sudden increase in demand for certain products and a complete standstill in demand for others has left many suppliers reeling. However the man in the street can still find it difficult to distinguishing the features that contrast a value chain, a supply chain and finally supply chain management (SCM).. Although there is a strong relation amongst these three activities, there are key differences that make them stand apart from one another.
Essentially, a value chain is a set of activities that a firm performs in order to deliver need-satisfying products or services to a defined market or markets. It is also known as a high-level model of how businesses receive inputs and then processes such inputs via the conversion process (operations) into finished goods and services. This is achieved by adding value to the inputs in such a way that the morphed final offerings will hopefully satiate varying customer needs, better than the competitor. The ultimate objectives of the value chain are the appeasement of both customer needs and wants (in the form of superior goods and services), and, as importantly, revenue and profits for the enterprise.
Created by Michael Porter in 1985, the value chain consists of primary and support activities. Primary activities include inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service. The key goal of these activities is to create value that exceeds the cost of performing the activity, thereby generating higher organisational sales and profits. Support activities on the other hand comprise procurement, human resources, finance, technology development, and the firm’s infrastructure. These ancillary activities within Porter’s Value Chain, assist the primary activities by forming the foundation of the organization on which the primary activities operate. A support activity such as financial management for example is of great importance for primary activities as without finance, these activities cannot be performed. Likewise, without effective Human Resources Management, the organisation will not have the requisite human capital to produce the required goods and services, market them and finally distribute them to…
The right organisation.
At the right time they are need.
To the right person who will be using the goods; and
At the right price so that their delivery to the targeted end-customer via fellow supply partners will enjoy the value that the offering has been designed to deliver.
The strength that underpins Porter’s Value Chain Analysis is its approach, as it focuses on the customers as the central theme of the business rather than on departments or people. Being a system approach to operating a business, the system links other systems, people, departments and activities to one another and demonstrates how the approach impacts on value creation, costs and profits. Consequently, the analysis makes a clear picture of where the sources of value and loss of revenue can be found in the organisation.
The supply chain is the network of individuals, firms, technology and resources that are involved in the creation and distribution of offerings from the source of the inputs (raw materials, components and so on) via the distribution network to the final consumer. The main challenges of the supply chain, or better still the supply network, are the ever-changing needs of the consumer, its complexity (especially international supply chains), supply risk and as importantly supplier risk. The recent outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic has underscored the importance of a smooth-running and seamless supply network as without it operating effective and efficiently, more people would have been struck down by the virus. This would have undoubtedly increased the morbidity and mortality rate throughout the world as well as the negative impact the outbreak has had on the global economy.
Supply chain management (SCM) is about creating value. Early efforts at managing supply chains often focused on cost reduction in order to make the chain leaner. Unfortunately, these efforts sometimes reduced the ability to create value thereby negating the key purpose of the supply chain. In essence, there is more to creating value through effective SCM than simply wrestling costs out of supply chain’s primary or support activities. Being an agile supply chain in a modern context, is probably more important than wrangling lower costs as it translates into quicker market entry and better customer service.
There should be value-creating activities that reinforce supply-partner and customer centrism. Because there can be many supply partners in the equation, managing supply chains requires a balancing act among competing and oftentimes self-serving interests. To illustrate this, note the following example. The seller of raw materials (supply chain inputs) would naturally like to enjoy the highest possible price he can muster from the manufacturer in order to maximise profits. The manufacturer on the other hand might probably demand to procure the goods at the lowest possible cost in order to be competitive in the marketplace after he has incurred the time and cost to produce the goods. It is these conflicting requirements that require supply partners to be flexible so that these opposing needs may be realize.
The above is underpinned by the advent of the recent Covid 19 virus and how the interest of supply partners can differ, even in a life-threatening emergency such as the pandemic. In the USA, where the outbreak has reached mammoth proportion, Federal and local governments competed for life-saving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) hoping to procure such goods at the lowest possible prices. However, because of supply and demand issues, and pure unadulterated opportunism, sellers put up the prices of their PPE goods to exorbitant levels in order to maximise profits at the expense of the people who were ill and dying in hospitals and old age homes. The sad reality is that there was no cohesion and coordination on a macro scale regarding to the procurement and delivery of such essential equipment, apparel and medication. Instead of Federal Government (central government) acting as the catalyst for the acquisition of such goods and services, it competed against states and hospitals, thereby increasing the cost and delaying the delivery of the imported life-saving offerings from Europe and the East.
SCM can be defined as the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain management systems, with the objective of generating value by synchronizing supply with demand and measuring performance on an international basis. Where once it was considered to be a philosophy, in today’s terms it has become an essential business activity that is designed to ensure the delivery of superior value-add services so that all the players in the chain may benefit there from.
The supply chain, not only links organizations e.g. suppliers, producers, and customers. It produces upstream and downstream flows, which move products, information and payment (cash) out of and into organisations.
The value chain however integrates a variety of supply chain activities throughout the product/service life cycle; from the marketing function determining customer needs and wants, operations converting inputs into goods and services and finally to outbound logistics, which consists of order processing, warehousing and distribution. The main intent of a value chain is to increase the value of a product or service as it passes through stages of development and distribution before reaching the end user. So, through effective supply chain mapping and streaming, organisations in the supply network can accurately direct their mutual efforts at providing value-add services to the next-in-line customer. The above hopefully illustrates the relationship of the three critical business activities, their relevance and as importantly how they provide value to all the members of the network, including the end consumer.
Coronavirus and the end of the global supply chain
Coronavirus has shown how fragile our cost-driven, just-in-time processes really are. With practitioners adapting to survive while planning more resilient systems for the future, will procurement ever be the same?
When the first container ship arriving from China at the port of Vancouver was cancelled in January this year, it didn’t seem particularly significant. By mid-March, when China’s struggle with Covid-19, aka coronavirus, had become so all-consuming that 30 more journeys had been cancelled, Vancouver’s port officials were facing a crisis of historic magnitude.
That consumer goods weren’t being unloaded from China as per the schedule was less of a concern than the fact that Canada, which usually filled those containers with lentils and peas, had two months’ worth of crops stuck in port (historically, roughly a third of Canada’s crops have been exported in containers). Imports were also disrupted: one local food company had to pay a premium for spices from Thailand which arrived a month behind schedule. Brazil’s coffee makers suffered too as the missing containers made it hard for them to ship their products to China.
The problems of countries and companies along just one shipping route indicate why some economists, notably Simon MacAdam at consultancy Capital Economics, are predicting a 20% dip in trade volumes this year. That is significantly worse than the last recession in 2009, when volumes fell by 13%.
The bottlenecks in Vancouver did not grab headlines in the same way as various countries’ difficulties in speeding up production of ventilator kits. But as Professor Tim Benton, research director of the Chatham House think tank’s energy, environment and resources programme, says, they remind us: “We have created a global supply chain that, for all its financial efficiencies, has very little resilience.”
Coffee is a case in point. One industry estimate, cited by The Economist, suggests that 29 companies across 18 countries need to collaborate to make “one humble cup”. That may, Benton observes, work financially for the companies concerned – and for consumers who can buy their favourite brand at a lower cost – but it cannot, in any true sense of the word, be described as efficient. A hurricane, strike or outbreak of coronavirus at any of those 29 companies could severely disrupt the supply chain, and the spread of the virus into Latin America has already led to huge spikes in commodity prices as buyers anticipate lockdowns and shuttered businesses. And that’s without the kind of surge in consumer demand that led to a rise of more than 20% in British supermarket sales during March 2020.
All those photographs of empty shelves, explicitly condemning shoppers for panic buying and hoarding, obscure the fact, Benton says, that governments are hoarding too. “Kazakhstan banned exports of wheat flour, Thailand has stopped exporting eggs, Vietnam has suspended rice exports and Russia is talking about limiting grain exports to protect supplies,” he says. “It’s not clear how many more governments will follow suit, but if they keep putting their nation first, the situation can only get worse.” Protectionist policies, coupled with panic buying, could create a self-perpetuating cycle of rising food prices.
What many analysts referred to as the “hidden costs of globalisation” were becoming visible even before the pandemic struck. “There was a clear sense that we had reached peak globalisation,” says Andrew Missingham, the co-founder of creative management consultancy B+A. “The political shocks of 2016, protectionist trade policies and climate change were already asking fundamental questions about that model.” Some of the foundations which businesses took for granted no longer exist in a pandemic age. “If you look at a business like ours, for example, it was predicated on three factors – the internet, cheap flights and free movement of people – and two of those no longer apply,” says Missingham.
Since the last global economic crisis in 2007-2008, many parts of the procurement profession have performed Herculean labours, protecting profits, companies and jobs by cutting billions of dollars in cost from the world’s supply chains. They did that, primarily, by seeking out places where they could make things at the lowest cost – often in China – and minimising inventory by applying lean manufacturing or ‘just-in-time’ principles.
The result is a global supply chain that is interconnected, intricate and sometimes unfathomable. As Duncan Brock, group director, CIPS, says: “The interwoven nature of modern supply chains means it is almost impossible to say for certain just how reliant we are on China for manufacturing and assembly.” Companies that placed such trust in Chinese suppliers that they used single-sourcing now face severe disruption.
Diverse sourcing strategies
“One key lesson from the pandemic is the importance of spreading the risk,” says Tim Lawrence, supply chain expert at PA Consulting. “Companies should avoid clustering suppliers in one region and around similar supply chains, reconsider whether it makes sense to create isolated supply chains and understand the location risks in every tier of the supply chain. Your supply chain may not be as diverse as you like to think – for example, your alternative suppliers may themselves be reliant on tier 3 or tier 4 suppliers in the same region.”
The obvious, if laborious, way to avoid such problems is to map your supply chain. “It isn’t easy,” admits Lawrence.
“It took Airbus five years to do it with the A320 passenger aircraft. And supply chains change so fast that the map might be out of date on the day you complete it, but digital technologies – especially 5G, data analytics and artificial intelligence – are proving increasingly helpful. They can improve visibility and connectivity, generate early warnings, and help free up supply chain leaders to focus on the strategic issues.”
Strategic questions would include assessing when it makes sense to keep the supply chain within the business. “There are certain components that are so critical to the business that the most secure supply chain might be to vertically integrate them,” says Lawrence.
As global supply chains hit bottlenecks many neither envisaged or expected, Missingham predicts: “We will see a lot more decentralisation, regionalisation and localisation.” Some pundits have talked of a ‘great reset’, where reshoring becomes the new norm. In an increasingly automated workplace, labour costs are no longer as critical when locating factories. Last year, multinational toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker shifted production of its Craftsman tools from China to Fort Worth, Texas, without increasing costs.
Brock expects new sourcing strategies to emerge but warns that any ‘reset’ will take time: “This may be the last straw for global sourcing as supply chain managers look local but, to put this in context, 290 of Apple’s 800 suppliers are based in China so such a strategy would take years to implement.”
Diversifying a supplier base is not always straightforward. Companies may be required, Brock says, to form alliances within their sector to develop new sources of supply where choice is limited or existing suppliers are clustered in the same region. Unilever has opted to protect the suppliers it already has, announcing a £420m cashflow relief scheme to expedite payments to SMEs in its network and offering credit to small retailers.
Learning just in time
Just-in-time manufacturing – reducing inventories to 15-30 days of stock or even less – has been a multi-billion-dollar boon for the global economy. Lawrence does not foresee a wholesale rejection of just-in-time or lean, but a reappraisal based on a more realistic assessment of the potential cost to the business: “There will be certain components and materials where you decide that it is more efficient, in the broad sense, to have six to eight weeks’ stock than three or four.”
Popularised by Robert Hall in his 1987 book Zero Inventories, the just-in-time philosophy always sat uncomfortably alongside procurement’s cautious ‘just in case’ approach to buying inventory. Dazzled by the savings, many companies ignored the fact just-in-time made it much harder for procurement to understand how extensive, responsive and opaque supply chains really were. This truth came home in February when a South Carolina hospital ran out of surgical gowns. Its traditional supplier in China had contamination concerns over its stock – not related to coronavirus – but when managers tried to buy replacements, with the pandemic escalating, they struggled.
But in the middle of a crisis this severe, there is also a temptation to overestimate how profoundly our behaviour as individuals, companies and organisations will change. The 2007-2008 depression signalled, as so many people forecast at the time, the end of the road for a certain type of free market capitalism. It seemed a reasonable proposition at the time but it didn’t work out that way. The idea of getting back to ‘business as usual’ can induce a certain complacency.
In this crisis, many managers – not just in procurement – will argue that nobody could have seen this coming. That is true, up to a point. Nobody could have predicted how quickly and radically Covid-19 would change the way we live and work. Yet, for those companies which were paying attention, the signs were there to be interpreted.
The US grocery chain H-E-B began monitoring what was happening in China in the second week of January. After two weeks of analysing various sourcing reports and maintaining close, constant contact with companies in China, the retailer redrafted the disaster plans it had used for the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 to confront coronavirus.
As Craig Boyan, H-E-B’s president, told Texas Monthly: “Chinese retailers sent some pretty thorough information about the early days of the outbreak, how that affected grocery retail, how employees were addressing sanitisation and social distancing, how quarantine affected the supply chain, how shopping behaviour changed and what steps they wished they’d taken to get ahead earlier in the cycle.”
Using that information, H-E-B promptly took various steps: forming a remote working committee to coordinate policy and actions, reducing opening hours to give more time to put product on shelves, rationing certain product purchases and paying local beer distributors to bring eggs to its stores. Even so, Boyan admits, they did not resolve every challenge: “We’re still struggling to get eggs and we still have a hard time understanding why toilet rolls were the first things to go out of stock.”
Planning to fail
If the coronavirus is a black swan event, there is an obvious temptation to plan on the basis that it will never happen again – or at least not in our working lives. The call of the next quarter’s targets can often sound more compelling, but Lawrence says supply chain leaders need to change their mindset. “It is easy to focus on the small things that happen often, or may come up in the next three to six months, and plan scenarios for those, but to be honest you could delegate that task to the technology. As this pandemic shows, it would pay companies to look at the really big things that don’t happen very often and run scenarios for those.”
Understanding risk is partly about what supply chain leaders know but also, Missingham says, about what they do with what they know: “People working in supply chains are, in my experience, real experts in the people, challenges and opportunities they face – be that individual components or particular raw materials. The problem is that that knowledge is too narrowly held within organisations. In future, one of the important jobs for supply chain specialists will be to educate a broader part of the business.”
Covid-19 has shed an unforgiving light on every flaw in the world’s supply chain. The pandemic has shut factories, stalled shipments, fuelled labour shortages, closed borders and will, the United Nations estimates, cost the global economy at least $1trn. “In times of crisis and uncertainty, it is hard for businesses to plan but supply chain managers who act now and keep a close eye on such data as the purchasing managers indices as they make plans can mitigate the damage,” says Brock.
Yet in future, when supply chain leaders have the breathing space to think, let alone plan, for the long term, they might conclude that prevention is the best form of mitigation. Companies which neglect the opportunity to fundamentally rethink their supply chains do so at their own peril.
That is especially true, Benton argues, when it comes to defining a more sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly food production system.
As he says: “The question is not ‘will it happen?’ The question is ‘when will it happen?’ We could have started to create a sustainable, equitable and nutritious food system in 2003, after the outbreak of SARS. It could happen now or it could happen in 10 years’ time when the next crisis occurs, but for the sake of our health, and the health of our planet, it cannot not happen.” What goes for the food industry, you suspect, goes for the other sectors of the global economy.
The competition is no longer between brands or even between companies; it is between supply chains (networks). Supply chains in the time of coronavirus have changed, possibly forever. MARZIA STORPIOLI reports.
Supply chain management has been likened to a philosophy, a concept rather than an essential service.
Historically, companies relied on strong brands and good products to win over the consumer. Competitive advantage was gained by the organisation based on the strength of its brands and its reputation for quality products.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its inexorable march across the globe, supply chain management is no longer being considered merely a concept, but rather a life-saving essential service used for the cohesion of all supply chains so that they may work in concert with one another in order to satiate the needs and wants of people and businesses at all times, including times of crises.
It’s useful to remember wars have been won and lost by the implementation and control of either effective and efficient supply chain management, or the lack of using it to its full potential, as was experienced during the Napoleonic Wars and World War ll. There is little doubt that the post-COVID-19 world will be decidedly different to life as we knew it prior to this scourge befalling us.
There’s no doubt most nations were caught unprepared by its rapid advance. In South Africa, consumers – like those across the globe – adapted their buying behaviour to “cope with this rapidly evolving situation”, as Nielsen researchers put it.
Retail outlets – supermarkets, pharmacies and wholesalers – were unable to satisfy consumer demand for sanitiser products, demonstrating the inability of supply chains within South Africa, and globally, to respond to a meteoric increase in demand for hand washes and sanitiser products, household and industrial bleaches and surface cleaning solutions driven by the global crisis.
Just-in-time (JIT) and lean manufacturing, once seen as the pinnacle of achievement in supply chain performance, may no longer be effective. They were implemented across most global supply chains in the face of mounting pressure to reduce supply chain costs – the aim being to continually strive for increasing levels of efficiency while reducing costs overall.
Efficient, but not robust
These supply chains are operating on razor-thin margins, so much so that they are no longer robust and unable to respond to ‘shocks’ in the system, and have limited capacity to respond to disruption in their supply chains. They are efficient, but they are not robust.
If the disruption continues, eventually these supply chains will stall – manufacturing will stop due to a lack of raw materials or spare parts.
Today, companies that achieve a sustained competitive advantage (Zara, 3M and Dell) are those who have invested significantly in developing responsive logistics capabilities. They are demand-driven and designed from the customer backwards (rather than from operational capability forward – forecast driven). Their supply chains are agile and responsive to changes in consumer behaviour.
Talking of consumer behaviour, self-preservation reigned ahead of South Africa’s national lockdown as the ‘haves’ stockpiled goods at the expense of the poor, the needy, the aged and the sick.
Imagine if the world did not have an effective and efficiently run supply chain to constantly channel food, fuel and other essentials to replace those that have been exhausted because of this ‘feeding frenzy’. There would be further chaos, indescribable misery, an uncontrolled mortality rate and above all, a world economic recession that would surpass the 1929 financial crash!
With the pandemic spreading to South Africa a few months after the initial outbreak in China, Nielsen was able to research global markets, delivering insights into how retailers are dealing with challenges brought about by coronavirus.
Turning a crisis into an opportunity
The research shows that retailers are facing three primary challenges: insufficient inventory of some categories, difficulty in logistics and distribution, and inadequate staff to deliver orders.
Those able to organise resources and respond actively to the epidemic and launch measures to “help turn crisis into opportunity” will thrive. These, Nielsen reported, included “flexible co-ordination of participants in the supply chain, ensuring the efficiency of product supply, showing care and concern for employees, rationally deploying staff, adjusting the store’s operating hours, expanding businesses through online channels and in community and strengthening corporate brand marketing to enhance consumers’ trust and creating a favourable impression”.
Nielsen has identified six key consumer behaviour threshold levels that tie directly to “concerns around the novel coronavirus outbreak. These thresholds offer signals of spending patterns, particularly for emergency pantry items and health supplies with these patterns being mirrored across multiple markets”.
As African countries such as South Africa and Kenya announced their country-specific responses to the outbreak, Nielsen found that global consumers were adapting their purchase behaviour to cope with the rapidly evolving situation.
“As patterns begin to emerge in response to news events of this nature, it will be imperative for companies to learn from these scenarios so they can sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 is deeply impacting people’s lives. These patterns will help provide leading and trailing indicators to those trying to understand how people will respond as developments continue to play out at different times in different countries,” said Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s global intelligence leader, adding that this would be critical to understand as stores worked to maintain supply levels of in-demand items.
South Africans entered threshold #5 ‘Restricted Living’ on Friday 27 March 2020. Consumer behaviour at this stage was characterised by severely restricted shopping and constraints due to supply shortages, delivery fulfilment challenges and caps on product quantities, Nielsen reported.
The lessons learned
Of the retailers surveyed by Nielsen on their attitudes towards business for the rest of the year, 67% said they would make efforts to expand online channels and accelerate home-based business / retail warehouse layout.
“Fifty-three [percent] said they would change their product mix according to the shopping habits of consumers and increase the inventory and on-shelf number of health, disinfectant and protection products,” Nielsen reported. “Forty-three percent of the retailers say that they would work on their supply chains, especially those for fresh food, strengthen the ties with various brands and enhance communication efficiency.”
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The COVID-19 virus has brought humanity, as we have come to know it, to its knees. Where kindness, sharing and caring once prevailed, now self-preservation reigns in shopping malls throughout the world as the “have’s” stockpile their larders with vitals at the expense of the poor, the needy, the aged and the sick. Shopping trolleys are filled to the brim not because there is a dire and urgent need to satisfy physiological needs but rather the wanton greed to plunder shopping shelves without giving any consideration for the shoppers in the queues behind them. Imagine if the world did not have an effective and efficiently run supply chain to constantly channel food, fuel and other essentials to replace those that have been exhausted because of the “feeding frenzy” of the uncaring and those who have sufficient funds to purchase what and when they like and the transport to procure such offerings. There would be further chaos, indescribable misery, an uncontrolled mortality rate and above all a world economic recession that would surpass the 1929 financial crash!
Historically, Supply Chain Management (SCM) has been likened to a philosophy… a concept rather than an essential service. As a relatively new mindset, it incorporates thirteen logistics activities and business processes to ensure cohesion amongst supply chain members and a continued flow of products, information and money. Wars have been won and lost by the implementation and control of either effective and efficient Supply Chain Management or the lack of using it to its full potential as was experienced during the Napoleonic Wars and WW2. There is little doubt that the world post-COVID-19 virus will be decidedly different to life as we have come to know prior to this adverse scourge befalling us. Therefore SCM will not be considered merely a concept but rather a life-saving essential service that will be used for the cohesion of all supply chains so that they may work in concert with one another in order to satiate the needs and wants of people and businesses at all times, including times of crises.
Besides the challenges brought upon us by the current pandemic, what other challenges are looming in the years ahead? Some of the key issues (certainly not all) are:
Technology (automation, robotics and the 4th Industrial Revolution). According to Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (2017), the 4th Industrial Revolution is characterized by “… new technology fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, thereby impacting on all disciplines”. With the ease of new entrants into the market and capturing it (it took Facebook 6 years to generate $1billion and Google 5 years), new entrants will generate more products, which will need to be warehoused, transported and distributed. This will add an immense amount of pressure on existing global and national supply chains, thereby necessitating a SCM revolution that will be able to cope with such metamorphosis;
Pressure on the reduction of costs and the increased desire for quality. Herein lies the greatest paradox of all as consumers and business customers demand low prices for products and services, yet insist on increased quality. With the ever-escalating price of fuel, vehicles and running costs, supply chain members are going to have to seek ways to maintain and if possible, decrease their cost. This could be achieved by vertical integration, horizontal integration (by buying competitors to enjoy economies of scale) and the use of fuel-efficient and sustainable vehicles and even self-propelled trucks (already being used) to reduce labour and associated costs;
Globalisation and the effective and efficient management of the elongated and complex supply network. Lengthy supply chains are fraught with risk and uncertainty, especially in this turbulent and uncertain world we all currently reside in. Here risk management is going to play an important role in identifying and mitigating risks (supplier risks, supply risks and interest rate risks etc.) so that global business may operate under an umbrella of relative certainty;
Shorter lead time as a result of consumer demand and rapid changes in consumer behaviour. There is no doubt that we live in a world for the need of instant gratification. What we see today is what we buy today, especially as a result of consumers having access to virtually unlimited credit. We therefore buy what we want even though we cannot afford it. The rapid changes that are taking place in consumer behaviour as a result of AI’s impact on the generic consumer behaviour process (desire for products and services are created and not identified as per the process) are also fueling the need for a more agile, responsive, sustainable, customer-centric and cost-efficient supply chains. Where once agility was sufficient to satisfy needs, how much quicker must organisations produce and distribute goods so that they may arrive at the Right place, to the Right person, in the Right condition, at the Right time and at the Right price?
Effective inventory and throughput management in a global context. With a world exploding with over-population and the need for finished goods and services, the question is how much inventory should an organisation carry? It is a well-known fact that carrying too much inventory incurs additional carrying costs whilst carrying an insufficient quantity increases the likelihood of retail outages and escalated order costs. With most forecasting being historically inaccurate, how can organisations prophesize future demand so that capacity can be managed to meet such demand? Some pundits see the solution to be JIT production and distribution whilst other see the answer to be further collaboration and integration, increased information sharing and joint demand forecasting amongst all players in the supply chain. Whatever the solution may be, throughput management needs to be “managed” so that the Rights that are reflected above may be realised otherwise customers will migrate to competitors that can offer quicker response times and miniscule outages; and
Build ‘robustness’. A robust supply chain is one that can withstand ‘shocks’, such as the current disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In their search for continuous improvement and reduction of costs, what the acclaimed writer Margaret Heffernan calls ‘the myth of infinite efficiency’, supply chains that have adopted Lean or JIT methodologies now find they lack robustness. They have no ‘extra’, there is no slack that can be used to mitigate the effects of the unexpected. This essential characteristic has been driven out by the persistent downward pressure on costs. These businesses operate on razor-thin margins (of time, of money, and of resources generally) and their supply chains are not robust – they are very exposed to disruption. Supply chains need to build robustness by balancing cost-efficiency with flexibility and resilience. They need to develop stronger relationships with other chain members instead of focusing on extracting the lowest prices from them. The future is becoming more difficult to predict and forecasting less effective. Disruptions and unforeseen events are inevitable. Supply chains have become longer and more complex. Unless they gain robustness, these supply chains will not be ‘fit’ enough to mitigate the risk of crippling disruptions.
The industries that are most at risk are:
The transport industry as it will be faced with ensuring that the above Rs are implemented and controlled. As a result of AI, it is estimated that by 2025 thousands of motorcars and trucks will be driverless. The negatives from a trucking perspective includes job losses, less ownership and the possibility of hacking and cyber-attacks. In the summer of 2015 (the year Tesla was launched), two hackers demonstrated their ability to hack a moving car; controlling its dashboard functions, steering, brakes etc. all via the vehicle’s entertainment system (Schwab, 2017). It is believed that all modes of transport (especially road) will be faced with shorter lead times, which will certainly burden transportation and the rest of the logistics functions;
Manufacturing as it depends on raw materials, components and spare parts to produce goods and services via the transformation process. As markets expand exponentially and as 3D printing becomes more of a reality than a rarity, product design and production could be performed at a consumer’s home. Eventually it could even become an office or even a home appliance. If this is the case then the demand for logistics services such as transportation, warehousing and demand management could even decrease in line with the reduction in production; and
The services industry. It is estimated that 85% of all jobs in the USA are service oriented. As there is such a wide spectrum of service providers ranging from hotels, hairdressers, hospitals etc., the growth of services and service providers will increase exponentially with an associated decline in manufacturing (as a result of 3D, robotics, and outsourcing etc.), This will put a burden on the supply chain as it will have to keep up with such growth in the service industry.
New degree for a new world: IMM Graduate School launches vital Bachelor of Commerce degree in International Supply Chain Management
In today’s ever-changing world, built on technology, e-commerce and global trade, supply chain management is increasingly becoming a pivotal personal competence, and a key competitive advantage for many businesses. This trend is manifesting in a worldwide shortage of supply chain management (SCM) skills and, in particular, a critical skills shortage in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hence the need for comprehensive and relevant SCM education and training.
The IMM Graduate School is answering this challenge with the introduction of a brand-new degree, the Bachelor of Commerce International Supply Chain Management, which is the first of its kind, for the 2020 academic year.
Where marketing determines what offerings customers want and need, SCM ensures that the inputs that are needed to produce these offerings are available to the organisation when they are needed to be converted into finished goods and services. Thereafter, SCM plays a critical role in getting the product or service to the end-user.
Programme description and purpose
The Bachelor of Commerce in International Supply Chain Management comprises a number of modules all of which have been deliberately synergised to provide students with a world-class SCM and business qualification.
Consisting of three independent streams (Transport and Logistics, Procurement and Public Procurement), the degree has been designed to provide students with a content-rich and application-oriented learning experience with the emphasis on employability and tangible value-add to companies. The best-in-class content has been benchmarked and validated by subject matter experts across various sectors and disciplines for use in this programme.
This three-year degree covers a variety of both business and supply chain related subjects. The content is structured to introduce foundational theory and to also focus on practical implementation through a variety of projects using topical local and international case studies. The degree includes a module offered in partnership with a leading global ERP company, to prepare students for the practical realities of a supply chain role. This project-based module provides students with an additional external certification that will differentiate IMM graduates from other students.
Completion of the qualification will position graduates for management roles within the areas of inventory and materials management, procurement, logistics, and supply chain management.
Mode of delivery
The IMM Graduate School offers its qualifications primarily in an online format, augmented by a variety of additional content. The core material is available in a compelling digital presentation, complete with pacers, self-assessment opportunities, links to further material, articles of interest, and more. This digital portal also serves as the primary point of contact and communication on academic and administrative matters with a dedicated team to respond to student queries.
The content delivery is supported by regular webinars recorder and posted by lectures as well as regular weekly scheduled consultation sessions.
Completion of the qualification will position graduates for management roles within the areas of inventory and materials management, procurement, logistics, and supply chain management.
Out with the old and in with the new – circular supply chain might just save the environment
Good news! Businesses can now increase their profits and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time.
As it stands, the supply chain industry follows the traditional linear supply chain methodology (source, create, and discard) but with our already limited resources and the expected rise in the global population (10 billion citizens by the year 2050), this idea of “input equals output” is an overall economic dead-end and environmental threat.
The linear model has been left relatively untouched since the 1980s since a linear economy promotes financial growth by sourcing large amounts of affordable, easily accessible resources.
With the increased focus on reducing our carbon footprint, this is being replaced by the
circular supply chain model.
Linear Supply Chain
The linear supply chain model. Source: ResearchGate.net
Circular Supply Chain
Circular Supply Chain. Source: supplychain247.com
The principles of circular supply chain
Waste equals affordable resources: Biodegradable materials such as cardboard boxes and tissue paper are returned to nature and non-biodegradable products are stripped down to its raw form.
Reuse: Certain products, or parts of products that are still functional, can be used to create new merchandise.
Repair: Faulty products can be repaired and resold
Recycle: Discarded material can be restored.
Energy from renewable resources: Circular supply chain aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the supply chain.
What we can expect in a circular economy
The circular supply chain methodology is becoming more and more popular as production costs continue to rise. Whereas the linear supply chain model ends when a product is sold and ultimately discarded, supply chains become circular when a connection is made between the beginning and end of the chain.
Instead of producing “disposable” products, businesses are choosing to “upcycle” certain used parts to revert them back to their raw material form to be used again. The product is used for as long as possible to get the most value during its life cycle.
From an organisational standpoint, here’s how businesses can benefit from the circular model:
It creates new profit opportunities
Production costs are lowered
Businesses can enjoy a good public reputation for their role in preserving the environment.
But unfortunately, there is a downside.
Prolonging the life cycle of a product will negatively influence the sale of replacement products.
Product quality may suffer. Certain materials such as plastic are designed with a limited life cycle in mind. In time, these materials become brittle, especially if it’s used too many times.
Here’s how we as consumers will benefit from a circular economy –
Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 2 – 4% per year.
Adding an extra link to the supply chain will encourage job creation
Consumers will enjoy more durable products, therefore saving them money in the long run.
The use of land, soil, and water will be managed more effectively.
Products will be more affordable if materials are recycled and reused rather than sourced from scratch.
It will put an end to the global resource scarcity
By paying less for products, consumers can enjoy an increased disposable income
These countries have already started using the circular model to reduce their carbon footprint.
The European Union (EU): In 2001, it was announced that all countries within the EU will be required to recycle at least 50% of all their packaging waste.
Japan: As the most efficient country when it comes to recycling, Japanese businesses and households must follow strict recycling laws and ensure that all packaging materials are recycled and reused.
The United Kingdom (UK): As of 2007, all UK-based organisations are obligated to recycle or treat their own waste, regardless of its size.
Luckily, the linear supply chain method is likely to be phased out entirely which means we’ll be a step closer to a waste-free planet.
Be part of the change and register for one of IMM’s Supply Chain programmes or online short courses. Start your career, or if you’re already working, boost your career with an internationally recognised qualification from the IMM Graduate School. Applications for 2020 are now open! https://imm.ac.za/