Buying a Desktop computer for your home or a Laptop for your use is very easy. You browse through the internet to see the latest models and configurations, decide on your specific requirement and click to place an order. At times of course you might go into an electronic supermarket and check out the physical product before you buy. Immediately on payment you cannot wait for the delivery and expect to be serviced on priority.
Ever wondered how companies like HP, Dell, and IBM manage to place just the right products in all point of sale not only in your city, but all over your country, all over the world where the product availability and standard processes are made available? If u start thinking back on where the products came in from? Where were they manufactured? Where were they stored and finally how and who brought it down to your door step, you are in fact tracing the logistics of the supply chain.
Finished Goods supply chains are very dynamic and are the backbone of a good sales organization. A number of departments are responsible to work in coordination and seamlessly to ensure Finished Goods reach the markets and the customers. Logistics and supply chain departments have to work in tandem with or aim to be ahead of Marketing and Sales and ensure that when a product is announced for sale by marketing, the products are made available at all nook and corner of the city, state and country. A situation where the customer goes to a sales counter to place an order and the product is not available cannot and should never happen as a rule.
Taking customer as the starting point, let us trace back the journey of finished goods and the functions.
While Marketing departments work on marketing and advertising the product and are focused on reaching out to the customer to sell a product to him, Whenever a customer places an order, further coordination and deliveries are managed by order fulfillment teams which are responsible for sales order processing who place orders on the distribution centers on the backend to pull materials for forward stocking points or to effect deliveries to the customers. Customer Fulfillment teams are the internal customers to the FG Logistics team. Logistics team is the department which is responsible for stocks and FG inventory held in the pipeline across multiple networks of distribution centers and the inventory in pipeline in various transit points. In other words, Logistics teams own the inventory from the point they leave the plant until delivery is effected to the customer who may be a distributor, retailer or end user as the case may be.
Logistics teams comprise of multiple competency centers including inventory planners, freight managers responsible for transportation leg and warehousing operations experts who are responsible for the inventory and warehousing operations including documentation control and statutory process compliance.
Logistics teams work in close co-ordination with finance teams, the procurement team, plants and manage operations through a chain of third party service providers who actually run the operations of inventory handling and distribution.
Logistics is never an event free operation. While multi tier third party service providers are handling the cargo across various borders, locations each with its own unique local situations, there are very many additional vagaries of nature and events that can keep disrupting the smooth flow of supplies and the situation is every dynamic.
Managing multiple product lines, and vast distribution networks coupled with managing third party partners calls for the Logistics Managers and Supply Chain Managers to be always thinking on their feet and constantly innovating new processes and finding new ways to keep operations happening smoothly.