Brand image revolves around an agile Supply Chain

Looking at the solar system, we realise that compared to other planets, our home planet is a well-designed supply chain model. Earth supplies an array of essential elements highly important to the life and survival of any living being. Is it natural for us to give it the brand name Mother Earth?

As a brand owner, entrepreneur, or investor, you should ask yourself how often do your marketing and sales people take into account the importance of an effective supply chain? And, how they gain a competitive edge in the market? I’m betting not as often as they should.

What some entrepreneurs usually overlook, is how crucially dependent is a brand success on Supply Chain Management (SCM). There is a massive risk to brands who fail to understand their supply chain. Any brand that does not have a well-designed and well-integrated supply chain management strategy will be unable to successfully meet the demands of its customers. Also, sooner or later, it will get a termination.

Supply Chain: The Force Within

Today, the tussle is between supply chains rather than single companies (Lambert and Cooper, 2000). There is no guarantee you will survive in this devouring market unless you know its game rules. You can’t fully appreciate your brand until you and your team understand the rules of supply chain first.

Supply Chain Management is the study of these rules, which shows how everything in a prestigious and world-class brand is beautifully connected. Supply chain management shows you the way out in the mirror maze of competition. Let’s see how it works.

Some marketing and sales managers align brands only with advertising and packaging. However, brand and reputation are built throughout the supply chain, supported by brand strategy, and customer care services. A brand at its best is a collective of all the stages of the supply chain put together.

Strategy Basics

A well-tailored supply chain strategy not only contributes dynamically to the product and service quality, delivery, cost control, the consumer experience and down the road. It also contributes to customer lifetime value and loyalty.

Supplying the right product or service, at the right time, to the right place, in the right way, and at the right cost to the customer are the five pillars of a well-designed, and well-integrated supply chain.

Supply Chain Management touches every point in a brand cycle from product development, sourcing, production, logistics, and customer experience to the information systems and technologies needed for monitoring and synchronizing them.

Supply Chain Management is the conscious way of thinking, planning and acting, with the purpose of maximizing the value of services provided to customers and minimizing the operating costs in the war of prices.

All the routes to becoming a prestigious brand go through the road of supply chain management. This journey would be much more promising and rewarding in gaining a competitive edge and strong position in the market only if you ensure that the supply chain of your brand is well-planned in advance.

Make sure that there is an adequate supply of raw materials and a minimum level of inventory is secured, a good relationship between you and your suppliers is built, and the supply chain operating costs are reduced.

If you want to move ahead of the competition and have a brand everyone will know and love, the following hints can lead the way to your success.

1. Ensure that your supply chain aligns with your brand message

Re-evaluate your supply chain by aligning your supply chain with your brand message. It ensures your business is built on ethical sourcing, supply chain transparency, sustainability, respect and protection of the environment, employee equality as well as gender equality from the bottom up. Demonstrate a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) action plan as well as a Corporate Environmental Responsibility policy for your brand through social investment, and contributing to your host communities where your company, factories or customers are.

Check whether your ingredients, formulas, recipes, design, packaging, and service delivery processes always meet the standards that your brand promises to its customers.

2. Build a transparent and traceable supply chain for your brand

Supply chain transparency has become a must-have as many brands utilize the benefits of sharing certain information with partners and customers for trust building and avoiding reputational losses. A transparent supply chain provides your customers and partners with the confidence that your suppliers, raw materials, products, and services are genuine, acquired ethically and lawfully, and live up to your brand standards and promises.

3. Build a customer-loyalty centric road map

Becoming a true brand is fueled primarily by customer loyalty. Loyalty is an after-effect of customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is largely influenced by supply chain consistency and the value of services provided to the customers. Build a team synergy between your branding, marketing, and supply chain teams for planning a customer-loyalty centric road map for your business.

4. Make sure your employees are happy because happy employees = happy customers

Customers are the most important assets of a brand. Make sure your employees are happy, feeling engaged, and are connected with both the team and your brand goals. Good employees do build customer loyalty. They are in positions that directly affect the value of services provided to customers.

5. Incorporate innovation, and new technologies into your supply chain

Remember that an effective supply chain is data-driven and tech-centric. Information technologies and innovation will enable you to have more control over your business and stay ahead of the competition by reducing operating costs, modifying errors, increasing productivity, and forecasting the future.

Originality and innovation merged with ample use of information technology lead the way throughout the supply chain. Utilizing systems like TMS, ERP, and CRM enable you to round up all aspects of your supply chain in one place, and RFID chips on your products will offer easy checking and tracking of inventory.

6. Adapt yourself to new challenges and be prepared for the unpredicted

In today’s global marketplace, supply chain obstructions pose a significant threat to brands. Although they are all hard to predict, they will definitely disrupt the normal flow of goods and materials in a supply chain. As a result, the supply chain is likely to collapse due to stock-outs and loss of market.

Maintaining one or more backup suppliers will ensure that your supply chain functions smoothly and normally when disruption occurs as a result of unexpected events, such as a strategic alliance of competitors or suppliers within a certain market.

7- Build a win-win in procurement and suppliers relations

In the battle of gaining a competitive edge, building a healthy procurement system and suppliers’ relations will be a stimulating engine for your business growth and supply chain stability.

This will be achieved by choosing partners, and companies with whom you can build a long term strategic business and working relationship. It isn’t just about procuring the right products, and services that appear to meet your business needs for the best price, and terms. It’s about a win-win relationship based on mutual respect and trust.

The author Alireza Khanderoo is a UAE based business journalist and supply chain strategist

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