The Value of a Supply Chain Executive Education

Executive-level supply chain positions have gained both prominence and importance for today’s global companies, and to support this trend, universities, colleges, professional organizations, and training firms have enhanced their supply chain and logistics programs to help executives stay current on supply chain trends.

It wasn’t that long ago that supply chain managers worked mainly behind the scenes, stealthily orchestrating the movement of products from the raw material stage to manufacturing/production and right on through to the final delivery of the finished goods.

Typically occupied by employees who had successfully “worked their way up” through the company, these executive-level supply chain positions have over the last few years gained both prominence and importance for today’s global companies.

To support this trend, universities and colleges have enhanced their supply chain and logistics degree programs; organizations like APICS and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) have expanded their certification programs; and training firms offer myriad options to help executives stay current on supply chain trends.

These executive education offerings provide executives with the opportunity to hone their skills, upgrade their technology acumen and better understand the inner workings of the modern-day supply chain.

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Supply Chain News: Retailers Rethinking Inventory Strategies

Are we starting to see new thinking in retail relative to inventory levels?

The reality is that somewhat under the radar, retail inventories have been rising. The inventory-to-sales (ITS) ratio measures the amount of inventory held as a percentage of one month’s worth of sales. As can be seen in the chart below, while the retail ITS is highly seasonal, the trend since 2010 is definitely up. Now, some stores are once again trying to slay the inventory beast.

For example, Tom Shortt, Home Depot’s senior vice president of supply chain told the Wall Street Journal his new message to the stores is “Get comfortable with days of inventory, not weeks.” The retailer is targeting sales growth of nearly 15% by 2018, but wants to keep inventory levels flat or slightly down – quite an accomplishment versus how retail has historically managed sales growth and inventories.

It is a shift happening across the retail sector, as companies try to figure out ways to profitably serve the growing needs of on-line shoppers while making their networks of brick and mortar outlets generate more cash.

“Chains must predict whether demand will come from the internet or a store visit, and whether they’ll ship online orders from a distribution center or a store,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Every move of inventory is an added cost that eats away at already thin margins.”

As we reported in the Retail Vendor Performance Bulletin recently, Target stores announced earlier this year it was replacing its existing forecasting and replenishment software with in-house developed applications to manage the complexity of inventory deployment and fulfillment across its omnichannel network.

Read more at Supply Chain News: Retailers Rethinking Inventory Strategies

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