This blog was originally posted in 2018 and has been updated with new content.
There have been a lot of lessons learned during this global pandemic; and among those at the top is the importance of building and strengthening your business supply chain. We’ve all experienced it: Empty shelves, out-of-stock items, shipping delays, or the inability to source the products and services we need to manage our everyday operations.
For more than 35 years, our business model has focused on building strategic partnerships with suppliers. Because we’ve managed our business this way from day one, building a reliable supply chain has truly become a byproduct of our charge to provide our customers with the marketing solutions that meet their evolving needs.
Over the years, this model has fueled our charge to diversify our product and service offerings. It’s all about supply and demand: Shamrock’s success lies, in part, in our commitment to respond to the growing needs of our customers by expanding our scope to deliver integrated marketing solutions.
Three decades ago, Shamrock was a print broker. Today, we’re a full-service marketing and communications agency with a national footprint and a dedicated supply chain. We’ve learned a few things over the years about supply chain management:
- Vet & align your suppliers. Clearly product/service quality and reliability are essential. But go the extra step to make sure that your suppliers are in alignment with your brand’s core values. Environmental sustainability (more on this later), animal-free testing, diversity in the workplace, industry best-practices, etc. Identify the risks and rewards associated with your suppliers and adjust accordingly.
- Set expectations & establish open communication. Start by outlining what’s expected—from every angle (vendor to agency and agency to client). At the end of the day, you’re responsible for delivering the product to the client, so make sure that your supplier can deliver on his/her end. Based on that scope-of-work agreement, outline your needs and expectations and provide a clear path for ongoing communication.
- Maintain accountability. Hold your supplier partners to stringent quality audits and benchmarks. At Shamrock, we lean on our suppliers to drive innovation and cost efficiencies, which then allows us to compete by delivering the best in quality, turnaround and price.
- Be eco-responsible. No longer a trend but a best practice: re-assess and realign your supply chain in light of minimizing your operational impact on the environment. Do your research; and then partner with those suppliers who are committed to reducing carbon emissions, energy usage and pollution, or that employ recycling efforts. Optimize your supply chain by increasing spend with companies that provide eco-friendly products.
- Collaborate with industry leaders & peers. Best practices are best when they’re shared: We can all learn from one another. Collaboration can lead to innovation, new processes, improved quality standards, new delivery options—the list goes on. But don’t just seek those opportunities for your C-suite executives. Shamrock regularly hosts educational sessions with our vendor partners (both in our offices and virtually). They present new product and technology sessions for our team with an engaging Q&A component that makes these learning experiences incredibly valuable for our team.
If you’re looking to sharpen your competitive edge, evaluating your supply chain processes is a good first step.
All the best,