Finding Supply Chain Synergies In Your Customers' Networks


About 12 years ago, when I was running a logistics company, I had a series of meetings with Consumer Electronics and mobile phone customers. We were exploring how we could reduce their Supply Chain and Network spend.

I discussed with these customers, the fact that as global logistics companies, we have a lot of insight into the cargo flows of our customers and the reality was as follows:

In many cases, our customers produce their product in the same factories as their competitors, and these products end up in the same store shelves, side by side. From a logistics standpoint, it made absolute sense to consider co-domiciling the product in the only remaining leg of the chain -- the ocean container -- and thereby optimizing origin, ocean and destination transportation economics.

In all cases, this recommendation was not considered seriously. In some cases the customer felt that their logistics purchasing skills were a strategic advantage. In others, they couldn't get past the idea of their product sitting in the same container as a competing brand.

Here we are 12 years later, and supply chain synergies remain difficult and elusive. And yet, our ability to store, analyze and model customer shipment data has grown by leaps and bounds. In this era of cloud-based connectivity and big data stores, logistics companies can, more than ever, model supply chain synergies for their customers.

Will there be pushback? Of course! We learn from that and adapt (maybe I should have modeled some flows of customers that weren't competing head on to take the sting out!) But that shouldn't stop us. It is our job to creatively and proactively tee up opportunities for our customers.

If we don't, somebody else will.