There are many elements involved in developing and manufacturing products for a customer. In fact, most of a company’s concentrated efforts go to the creation of what they’re going to sell, and with good reason. Because that IS the only purpose of any company – product development, so they have something to sell. But creating a great product is only half of the story. Companies need to be able to deliver it to the consumer, or all of your efforts are wasted.
The issue of delivery can be extremely complex. Some limit their marketing geographically because they can’t deliver everywhere. Some change their source of supply because deliveries of raw materials can’t get to the manufacturing plant. Plus, delivering on time can sometimes become a critical aspect of the sale. Assuring that product arrives JIT (Just In Time) has become a focus of many manufacturing partnerships, smoothing out manufacturing, and reducing inventory expense.
The timely delivery of seasonal gifts has been a problem for generations. Every year, the CEO has been challenged by the same issues: Massive manufacturing of a nearly unlimited variety of items; Deliveries which needed completion within a very specific timeframe at night. We were approached as a result of the continued outcry by the CEO’s wife, who felt that the age-old methods used to amass inventory, control order processing, and deliver to untold destinations in the twinkle of an eye, needed a fresh approach.
In the past, product requests sent from individual consumers were delivered in huge bags to the order processing center. Not only was a massive number of staff needed to open and categorize each request, but tracking the delivery addresses was a continuing nightmare. Picking orders so they could be placed in the right delivery vehicle created bottlenecks in every part of the warehouse and dock. In addition, misdirected gifts would result in a huge public relations nightmare for the company the following morning. A loss of faith as the result of incomplete deliveries would never be forgotten by customers.
There are two major issues facing the company. First, all deliveries need to be completed within a very specific time window during the night. Since deliveries must be unseen, the unique nature of the delivery vehicles, and deliveryman’s uniform make nighttime deliveries mandatory. Secondly, deliveries are made throughout the world, requiring an understanding of navigation that has surpassed the capabilities of most manual mapping systems.
The logistical issues surrounding successful delivery of any product are key to customer satisfaction. Most often, the expectations and even requirements of delivery are part of the purchase agreement. But customer satisfaction is always the key to any product delivery. Conventional wisdom often takes the place of legal text in guiding the operations of any business, and the issues faced by this once-a-year delivery system are no different than other companies. It just needs to be done in a shorter time window.
It is the coordination of manufacturing, organization of outbound processing, and the use of modern technology that assures that products get to customers when they are needed. On-time deliveries are expected by the customer and must be guaranteed by the manufacturer for the delivery cycle to be successful. The expectations for this annual flurry of deliveries are no different than for any other supplier. Strategically, plans need to be made to keep current with technology and the often-unrealistic expectations of the consumer. Unlike this case study, your customers have other alternatives. Don’t make their shifting to someone else an option. You may end up losing.
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