Crisis – Supply Chain Management Review





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Most of the time, when I sit down to write this column I look at what I wrote for the previous year’s issue for perspective or inspiration. The truth is, nothing I’ve written before, or experienced in my 64 years, has prepared me for COVID-19. I’m sure that most, if not all, of you can say the same.

Yes, it’s a global crisis, but closer to home, it’s a supply chain crisis. Quite simply, even the best supply chains, at least those that are still operating, are broken. I realized this when I recently placed an order with a national retail chain. I usually shop at their local brick and mortar store, but on those occasions when I do order online, it’s not uncommon for me to get my order the next day. That’s because their regional distribution center is less than 100 miles from my New Hampshire home. On the day I placed my order
for an HDMI splitter for the TV, the anticipated delivery time was two weeks. Actual delivery time was 10 days, and it arrived without the power cord that I needed to make it work.

I wasn’t upset. I get it. They’re operating that DC with at least one arm tied behind their backs and this wasn’t a matter of life and death—or toilet paper. But an article in today’s Wall Street Journal noted that even Amazon has been struggling to make good on delivery times for Prime customers and wondered if disillusioned customers would begin shopping elsewhere when this is all behind us. I think the larger point is that many firms have become so good at managing their supply chains that consumers take speedy and accurate delivery as a given and what we do as an afterthought. COVID-19, on the other hand, has thrust supply chain management in the spotlight because we are stretched and stressed.

By ·

Most of the time, when I sit down to write this column I look at what I wrote for the previous year’s issue for perspective or inspiration. The truth is, nothing I’ve written before, or experienced in my 64 years, has prepared me for COVID-19. I’m sure that most, if not all, of you can say the same.

Yes, it’s a global crisis, but closer to home, it’s a supply chain crisis. Quite simply, even the best supply chains, at least those that are still operating, are broken. I realized this when I recently placed an order with a national retail chain. I usually shop at their local brick and mortar store, but on those occasions when I do order online, it’s not uncommon for me to get my order the next day. That’s because their regional distribution center is less than 100 miles from my New Hampshire home. On the day I placed my order
for an HDMI splitter for the TV, the anticipated delivery time was two weeks. Actual delivery time was 10 days, and it arrived without the power cord that I needed to make it work.

I wasn’t upset. I get it. They’re operating that DC with at least one arm tied behind their backs and this wasn’t a matter of life and death—or toilet paper. But an article in today’s Wall Street Journal noted that even Amazon has been struggling to make good on delivery times for Prime customers and wondered if disillusioned customers would begin shopping elsewhere when this is all behind us. I think the larger point is that many firms have become so good at managing their supply chains that consumers take speedy and accurate delivery as a given and what we do as an afterthought. COVID-19, on the other hand, has thrust supply chain management in the spotlight because we are stretched and stressed.

 








About the Author

Bob Trebilcock

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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COVID-19 &middot
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