The Plentils Problem: What Supply Chain is Missing

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If you are in supply chain management (SCM), then you know that doing it well isn’t usually easy. The industry is missing a lot of the tools to solve common problems.

In the old days, most consumers didn’t even know there was a supply chain. It was unlikely they gave much thought to how products were delivered to stores, but that is quickly changing. Omni-channel retail has exposed the once behind-the-scenes world of supply chain management (SCM) to almost anyone who shops.

I recently encountered one of these common SCM problems while shopping online.

I was looking for chips that were slightly lower in carbs that the usual, and I stumbled across Plentils (aka chips made out of lentils). They were pretty good, and since seemingly half my office is on a low-carb diet, I ordered some for the team. Thai Chili Lime sounded like a decent flavor, so I ordered 24 for the kitchen at the office. Here’s the confirmation email I received immediately after. Smooth sailing, right?

Wrong. I soon got another email from Walmart stating the Plentils – the same product going to the same place – would be arriving in 7 different shipments, in quantities of 1 or 2 boxes each.

It wasn’t long after that I received another email saying 9 of my 24 boxes were on backorder.

Eventually those 9 “backordered” boxes were canceled all together.

Even though a bunch were canceled, I ended up receiving more than I expected. It turned out that each $3.02 order was for a case of 12 full-sized bags instead of a bag.

So now, not only does our team have quite a few Plentils to eat, we also saw the value of several SupplyPike tools come to life. If the Supply Chain Management (SCM) professionals involved had access to our applications and platform, things would have gone much more smoothly. The consumer would have actually received what was expected, the retailer and the supplier could have made money, the logistics could have been optimized, and the data could have been used to generate valuable insights.

For example, if everyone was on the SupplyPike platform, they would have:

  • Used SVOTCat to immediately visualize that cases and “eaches” are different – saving about 90% of the cost of the product;
  • Set up the products on the retailer’s website easily and accurately using RESET (our retailer product setup wizard);
  • Utilized MirandaTMS to mode-shift shipping, so instead of taping together cases and shipping parcels, less-than-truckload shipping would have been integrated into the website, saving hundreds of dollars on the transportation of this one order.
  • And, finally, the data could have been used to generate useful insights in Titania Analytics to figure out what sells and forecast what to manufacture.

Instead, here’s the likely scenario:

  • Someone loaded the item file with cases instead of eaches, so they sold ~$35 cases for $3.02 each;
  • Forecasters at Plentils will likely think that Thai Chili Lime Flavor is taking the world by storm, and they’ll likely inform their manufacturer to purchase ingredients and bump production of other better-selling items;
  • Walmart may decide that the data indicates that Thai Chili Lime Flavor should get more shelf space in the physical stores;
  • The retailer sold me almost $1,000 of product for less than $75 with free shipping, and it spent about $300 to ship me a bunch of product that we don’t really want;
  • The product went out-of-stock as soon as my orders were picked, so nobody else could have a chance to buy, and legitimate sales were lost.

Frankly, a SCM professional could explain a host of other negative implications from one small mistake that happens every day. Or, we could stop the madness and start collaborating on a single platform.

What is SVOTCat?

Glad you asked. SVOTCat, or Single Version of Truth Catalog, allows any supplier to set up and manage all their products in one repository. This information is made accessible to warehouses and retailers for a universal viewing of the same product. The product monitors compliance issues, meaning your product is available online and in stores, without any snags.

Our plugin RESET (aka Retailer Setup Wizard) lets you sync your products across retailers – like Walmart, Whole Foods, Amazon, Kroger and Target – with a few clicks. You’ll be able to house your product in one place for online item creation and new product set up for all major retailers. And, the catalog entries include rich-content, so anyone would immediately notice the difference between a case and a unit.

This means no more money or time lost on packing and shipping inconsistencies. No more penalties from retailers due to inventory discrepancies. Cha-ching.

In case you were wondering, the Plentils Thai Chili Lime flavor tastes great. But for now…they remain out of stock on Walmart.com.

 

If you’re interested in getting updates on RESET or our other products, simply drop your info in the form below.

The SupplyPike team is looking forward to working with SCM professionals to remove waste that consumers should not have to pay for. So, if you’d like to arrange to come by our office to help us build better supply chains, we’d be happy to share some Plentils with you. We’ve got more than we can possibly eat (serious understatement there). But, act fast; we’ll be donating the extras to a local public school soon. Now that we have the product in the SVOTCat database, we can easily recognize when it will go out-of-code, so nobody gets stuck with stale Plentils.

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