Technology & Supply Chain Relationships with Customers & Suppliers

What is a Supply Chain?

A supply chain is the network of customers and suppliers that your business deals with. Though each one is different, it is usually built around:

  • who you trade with
  • what you produce and how you produce it
  • your position in the chain
  • the links and processes that join you up.

Supply chains come in three broad types. Identifying the type of supply chain that your business is a part of will help you establish priorities for working more closely with your customers and suppliers.

1. Concentration supply chain

Businesses in industries such as automotive, consumer electronics or aerospace are in ‘concentration’ type supply chains. They tend to have few customers but a lot of suppliers.

The customer at the end of the chain is likely to have very demanding requirements, such as expecting just-in-time deliveries. Your customers may expect you to do business with them via their own electronic systems, which means that your systems will have to be compatible.

2. Batch manufacture/media supply chain

This type of supply chain covers a wide range of businesses – from engineering subcontractors and semiconductor manufacturers to cutlers and jewellers.

A business in this type of supply chain is likely to have many customers and many suppliers. The speed and flexibility with which you can transfer information – such as proposals, designs and production schedules – is crucial to a business in this position, and technology can help you improve this.

3. Retail and distribution supply chain

If you are in the business of retail and distribution, you’ll have a lot of customers, but relatively few suppliers. Having to deal with so many customers, as well as attracting new ones, can be done cost-effectively by exploiting the right technology.

Technology & Supply Chain Relationships with Customers & Suppliers business advice – Crown Copyright © 2004-2011
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