Supply Chain: The Key Questions

Managing the supply chains of businesses all around the UK is our fastest growing service, the team at head office work hard to make sure your clients get what they want, when they want with minimal cost to you.

Frog supplying a suitcase
Kat Rowlatt laughing

We have interviewed our Head of Supply Chain- Kat Rowlatt. She tells us about the kind of companies that outsource their supply chain and the advantages of outsourcing as well as some of the current challenges.


1.    What kind of companies outsource their supply chain? 

Today’s consumers are becoming more and more conscious of where their products come from, what is in them and who benefits from the profits of the sale of these goods. They want to make more ethical purchases. This has paved the way for great success for independent, entrepreneurial brands to make a fantastic mark on the market. These guys are fighting for retail space and this is no mean feat when you are going up against large multinational companies who have an huge engine of support behind them. These up and coming brands are run by small teams or sometimes by individuals who have experience in areas such as marketing, PR and sales. They have to have the right people behind them and outsourcing areas that they do not have any experience in is the perfect way to tap into a bank of other skills needed for running a successful operation.

2.    What are the advantages of outsourcing?

The advantages of outsourcing are that your outsourced supply chain department has already faced every problem that can be thrown their way. We have a wealth of experience in supplier management, demand planning, production planning, order management, supermarket operations and customer service.  
For example if you are going to be supplying Tesco you have to team up with one of their consolidators to get products picked up and delivered to them. You have to assign a label, generated by Tesco, to all pallets you deliver into them. You have to upload this information onto one of their portals before they will accept any delivery from you. Once a delivery is in they will only accept their POD as proof of delivery, if they claim a shortage you have a certain amount of time to challenge that shortage – we already know all this so you don’t have to fumble your way through this minefield alone.
Other advantages are that you get a team of people working on your behalf with different areas of expertise for the fraction of the cost of hiring a team of people with each of these skill sets. You don’t need to provide premises, IT equipment, software and you do not have to worry about holiday cover as there will always be someone in the office who will pick up on any day to day tasks.

3.    What are the current challenges of 21st century supply chain management?

Consumers want the best products at the best prices! This means that the supply chain has to run efficiently as possible. Also retailers want the best possible service. Being out of stock on a line on just one occasion can lead to the threat of delist. There is so much competition out there vendors have to be on their toes as there is always someone fighting for your on shelf space. It can be cut-throat!
Another challenge is that more and more companies are moving away from traditional paper orders and invoices and require the use of EDI. This comes with a number of challenges and costs (& a lot of technical jargon that no one understands!). We partner with an EDI company that is fully integrated into our order management and accounting software.
The rise of digital companies such as Amazon and Ocado mean the supply chain is having to adapt to new concepts all the time.

4.    How do we manage tracking and visibility of goods/shipments?

Robust processes are key for any growing business, we already work with some of the UK’s largest distributors such as Culina, Boughey, Oakland and Lenhams and we understand their processes in and out. We understand what the reports and information they give you mean. We know how to access their online portals and to use them to their fullest capacity.