With global sourcing strategies in place, companies often assemble finished goods from raw materials from hundreds of suppliers. However, not all suppliers act ethically, and some take short-cuts in quality control. In order to properly manage our brands and take ownership of the "customer experience"–marketers need visibility into the supply chain. Do you know what's in your supply chain?


How companies plan, source, make, deliver and return products and services is more than just the purview of procurement managers and supply chain analysts. And while the CEO and Board bear ultimate responsibility for the quality and safety of a company's products and services, marketers have a significant stake in supply chain management.

Many companies have tried to save money by sourcing from other countries like China, Mexico, or other emerging economies, but unfortunately some companies don't often track and monitor the quality of items sourced.

Case in point, in the past six months online and offline media have buzzed with reports regarding tainted chili peppers, tomatoes (whoops: false alarm), toothpaste, dog food, and pharmaceuticals imported from other countries.

Fellow MPDailyFix blogger, Ted Mininni wrote a post in May 2008 on the need for product traceability "from field to fork" to establish transparency and maintain public trust.

I'll agree with Ted and submit the following: With brands and reputations on the line, companies need to know exactly what's in their supply chain, down to the very unit and supplier whenever possible.

That's fine you say, but what does this have to do with marketing?
For marketers, this is a risk management exercise–not to mention one centered on marketing ROI.

Marketers often spend gobs of money on optimizing marketing processes, building brands, and designing programs to increase customer loyalty. However, it is quite absurd to spend millions of dollars on marketing and have it all wasted as customers or animals get sick–or worse–from the products on our shelves.

Most companies are engaging in a purposeful effort to build effective policies, technologies (supply chain analytics and infrastructure) and processes to track and monitor the extended supply chain. Marketers must be able to access and query these analytical systems so as to understand the interdependencies, assumptions and events that occur or could occur within the supply chain.

However, accessing analytical applications is just one part of the equation–the ability to influence change and provide accepted input to supply chain stakeholders is another large part.

Marketers need to make a purposeful effort to reach out to CIOs, Supply Chain VPs, Operations, Finance, risk managers and others. Intradepartmental meetings with the above functions, in addition to analytical systems access will help give marketers the insight and visibility needed to make the best decisions in protecting our brands and managing risk.

Traditionally, marketers have been more concerned with the demand chain rather than the supply chain. However, line of sight into the entire value chain and the ability to influence decisioning with all stakeholders–will help us better manage risk and ultimately engender higher levels of customer trust.

Questions:
* Should marketers–in all roles–care about supply chain management? Or are these concerns "out of scope" for marketing?
* How much of a marketer's time should be spent on collaborating with other departments on supply chain management?
* Have you identified the one or two big events that could cause massive disruption to your value chain? How are you mitigating those risks?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Barsch directs services marketing programs for Teradata, the world's largest data warehousing and analytics company. Previously, Paul was marketing director for HP Enterprise Services $1.3 billion healthcare industry and a senior marketing manager at global consultancy, BearingPoint. Paul is a senior contributor to MarketingProfs, a frequent columnist for MarketingProfs DailyFix, and has published over fifteen articles in marketing, management, technology and healthcare publications. Paul earned his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He and his family reside in San Diego, CA.