The last two decades have seen a transition among global supply chains from internal control to the outsourcing of such key elements as manufacturing and distribution, says Gifford. The latest wave of change was driven by the still-developing world of electronic commerce, creating a global demand for products. The result is a more complex supply chain, even as customers expect the same level of service from e-commerce that they are accustomed to receiving from brick-and-mortar retailers.
"It all comes down to moving a good or product into a consumer's hands," says Gifford. "Whether you're a business or individual, the product is still what they're looking for. You don't care if it was made in Chicago or Bangalore. You're looking for the same experience."
The biggest accelerator of supply-chain evolution over the last decade has been the surge in global demand, driven by the growth of the internet. "You can access product from all over the world," says Gifford. "It's a demand-driven supply chain. It's no longer supply-constrained."
All of which is placing huge stress on modern-day supply chains, which must compete both on a local and global level. Merchandisers must figure out how to provide top-quality service to the e-commerce world as well as traditional stores.
To meet those challenges, Ingram Micro has developed multiple ways to assess the market, from a distribution as well as third-party logistics basis. The company can ship via multiple modes, designing a single product set for distribution, big-box retailer or individual customer requirements. "We constantly work with our suppliers to increase velocity and bundle multiple products," says Gifford. "[We assess] the customer-experience need, and then we adapt our supply chain."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, international trade, inventory management, inventory control, 3PL, global logistics, transportation management, third party logistics, logistics services, supply chain planning, retail supply chain