SUCCESSION PLANNING 01Is the next generation of your family business ready to take the reins?

By Bradford Dickson and Greg Spangler

Whether wholesalers or distributors take their business public, decide to sell it, choose to retire, become disabled or pass away, exiting a business can be a very sensitive topic – especially when it comes to turning the helm over to the next generation.

While it’s true that business owners can’t always control when and how the exit happens, they can be prepared with a succession plan in place. 

 OP RETAILBy Sushil K. Mishra

In an age of omni-channel marketing and smart “package tracking” apps offered by Amazon, overnight delivery companies and others, consumer expectations have been set high. The increasing popularity of “buy online, ship to store” (BOSS) this past holiday season exposed a number of weaknesses along the retail supply chain and left consumers wondering, “Where exactly is my ship-to-store order?”

Just as importantly for retailers, warehousers, distributors and even manufacturers shipping product directly to stores, BOSS has exposed broad logistical inefficiencies that are increasing operational costs and cutting into retail sales.


In today’s hyper-connected world, customers are looking for smarter products and services that can meet their ever-evolving demands. In order for manufacturers to meet these changing demands and needs, business models, business processes have to change, machinery and equipment and how we go about doing our jobs has to change. No manufacturer will be around much longer if they don’t truly put the customer first and adapt to continually fluctuating market and end-user requirements.

A growing number of industrial manufacturers are responding by creating “smart factories” and intelligent supply chains using cloud technology. While digitalization on the shop floor and in the supply chain is not new, what is new is the way production and logistics are intelligently connected to employees, customers, and suppliers in the cloud. Recent industry reports predict the smart factory market to reach $74.8 billion by 2022, with the discrete industry expecting to hold the largest share of the smart factory market by 2020.


Facility managers tasked with keeping a site up and running seamlessly and efficiently have come to rely heavily on smart building technology. As the smart building becomes more sophisticated, facility managers are leveraging this technology to automate tasks, reduce energy consumption and costs and optimize staff roles, all while keeping the premise safer and more secure than ever.

 OP DURABLEBy Guy Amisano Sr.

As the supply chain becomes more complex, the amount of data collected at each level continues to grow. More and more companies are investing in platforms and tools to help them utilize this data in order to continuously improve processes and make smarter business decisions. In fact, a recent SCM World review showed 64 percent of professionals from every level of the supply chain are prioritizing big data analytics as an important technology for long-term growth.

 INVENTORY MANAGEMENT 01Here are some “dos and don’ts” for effective inventory management.

By Gary C. Smith

When it comes to efficient inventory management, even tightly run companies may have room for improvement. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when disposing of unwanted stock, without asking if there’s a better way.

For example, discounting nonperforming merchandise devalues products and undermines sales, yet many wholesalers and distributers continue to do it. Liquidating merchandise yields just pennies on the dollar, yet liquidation vendors are alive and well.

Why not step back from your familiar inventory management processes and see if there’s a solution you’ve overlooked? You want to ensure you get the most from what you’ve got—even your least successful products. To that end, consider these dos and don’ts for efficient inventory management.

 INVENTORY ACCURACY 01Inventory accuracy is vital to your operation’s success.

By Lisa Anderson

Inventory accuracy is a cornerstone of a business’ success.  Although this topic isn’t seen as exciting as implementing leading edge lean, robotics and warehouse automation strategies, it has proven to be a predecessor to sustainable success. Similar to the foundation of a house, inventory accuracy is the foundation required for high service levels, profit levels and accelerated cash flow. In a house, fancy windows and high-end doors provide little benefit if the foundation is shaky and collapses. Similarly, in distribution, the best technologies will be useless if your foundation – inventory accuracy – isn’t in place.

A high inventory accuracy level is one of the most consistent qualities of a successful business. Just as solid blocking and tackling provides the base for running sophisticated plays to win a football game, inventory accuracy provides the base for achieving profitable growth in distribution.

 SUPPLY CHAIN PLANNINGGreat execution cannot overcome bad planning.

By Toby Brzoznowski

Enter “bad design” into a Google image search and hundreds of examples will rapidly display on your browser. A new design does not necessarily mean a positive one and examples of bad design litter the marketplace.

In most situations, the design of a system is what ultimately determines how well it will perform. No matter how hard you try or how well you execute, the design of the system has set an upper limit on performance.

Over the last several years, this “constraint of design” has dramatically changed the way in which supply chain executives look at their jobs, and how they set their priorities – and the result has been the emergence of a third discipline in supply chain management called supply chain design.

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