Here’s the understatement of our time: Yesterday’s supply chain was not set up for today’s shopper. As a supplier, you may already realize that shoppers’ demands and technology’s evolution change so fast that your supply chain struggles to even keep up. It’s a challenge that Kerry Bailey, Director of Retail at Menasha, and his team help suppliers with each week.
As we begin a new series of articles with Menasha, we’re focusing on details of the supply chain process, how it’s changing as the shopper changes, common issues, and how suppliers need to prepare. We’re beginning with an overview of the current state of supply chain and how Kerry and team are helping suppliers adjust their processes to meet the new demand. Future articles will drill down further into individual issues and solutions through each link in the supply chain.
When we talked with Kerry earlier this year, he detailed the parallel timelines a supplier faces once they get a “yes” to work with Walmart. Just recently, when we spoke on the 8th & Walton Conference Call podcast, he gave us a laser focus on the current and future issues of supply chain. In his experience of working with suppliers, Kerry gave intriguing insight on where the breakdowns lie and how to prepare for what’s next.
Where Do Most of the Supply Chain Issues Begin?
This is where many seasoned, well-established suppliers are at a disadvantage. The industry changed without the foresight of the supplier. The new demands are sometimes incompatible with the old formulas. As Kerry explains, that all adds pressure on the business and the product.
“Today’s environment is radically different than most of the large CPGs and manufacturing operations were set up to support,” he says. “Anything that’s case-disruptive is an opportunity for the supply chain team or Walmart suppliers to take a look and say ‘Am I good at that internally? If not, who’s a good resource to become a valuable supplier?'”
This is where companies like Menasha step in to shine. They not only isolate the issue, but provide the solution to support the supplier. “As we look at ourselves as kind of a ‘supplier for hire’ so to speak,” he explains,”that’s an opportunity for us to showcase how we touch, move, and package goods.”
What Are Suppliers Missing as Demands Change?
As with many things in retail, striving to improve one area may unexpectedly harm another. It’s a reality Kerry and the Menasha team find in working with suppliers as the industry quickly changes.
“One of the blind spots we’ve discovered is the impact of today’s speed of the supply chain,” he says. New rules brought the need for a faster process, but as Kerry explains, the product got caught in the middle.
“Walmart Suppliers are familiar with the condensed On Time In Full (OTIF) requirements and the speed at which goods are being manufactured, put into distribution, and moved logistically. The impact of that is how the survival rate of a package is really changing.
“It’s the speed and all the new pressure on that package from end to end of the supply chain. Suppliers need to be aware of anything that impacts delivery to the door. We’re looking for all those problems to solve for suppliers.”
How Does Supply Chain Efficiency Impact Brand?
“Brand” is such a marketing focus that you rarely hear it referenced in talking about the logistical supply chain. But as Kerry looks at the process end to end, brand has to tell the complete story. Without a streamlined supply chain, the supplier’s brand can become a bad story for the customer.
“It’s a consumer’s world; the shopper has all the control,” Kerry says. “It’s about choice, reflection, and having a piece of their heart, you might say, in a brand world. As we work with brands today, we’re talking about the integrity of their brand. They have to tell a true story to the shopper.
“What we’re finding is the ability to tell that story in multiple dimensional elements. Whether it’s their primary package, their display vehicle, or their online content. It all has to demonstrate a level of trust to the shopper. That’s where it’s won today: in their hearts, with that level of integrity and trust with the supplier.”
Weak link in your supply chain? It helps to get a fresh set of eyes on your process, packaging, and brand. A partner like Menasha can evaluate your process and provide new insight on getting your product in the shopper’s cart.