Ensuring alignment between supply chain strategy and broader business objectives is an increasingly critical success factor in any competitive market, particularly as companies evolve to meet new challenges and conditions. Three examples from the office products sector show how the supply chain function can be an integral player in supporting overall business goals.
[From Supply & Demand Chain Executive, October/November 2004] Mark Yoshimura is the first to admit that differentiation can be a tough nut to crack in the office products business. The director of supply chain vendor integration with Delray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot, Yoshimura points out that many of his company's competitors are able to purchase goods at about the same price, in many cases their stores look very similar and even their advertising can appear indistinguishable at times. In fact, Office Depot's own market research has shown that about 50 percent of customers buying office supplies couldn't say for certain at which of the major players they had shopped for the purchase.
So when Office Depot rolled out its Millennium2, or M2, concept this past June, it's not surprising that this initiative featured as a core component redesigned "super stores" intended, in part, to distinguish the company from its rivals in the office supplies market. But what might be surprising is the extent to which the company's supply chain function was a key behind-the-scenes player in supporting this initiative. "One point of differentiation is who can get the product to the right place at the right time, with the highest service and the lowest cost," Yoshimura says. "From that perspective, supply chain can be