Supply Chain Management 4th edition

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Chapter 3 Supply Chain Drivers and Metri
Inventory plays a significant role in a supply chain’s ability to support a firm’s competitive strategy. If a firm’s competitive strategy requires a very high level of responsiveness, a company can use inventory to achieve this responsiveness by locating large amounts of inventory close to the customer. Conversely, a company can also use inventory to make itself more efficient by reducing inventory through centralized stocking. The latter strategy would support a competitive strategy of being a low-cost producer. The trade-off implicit in the inventory driver is between the responsiveness that results from more inventory and the efficiency that results from less inventory.
The role of transportation in a company’s competitive strategy figures prominently when the company is considering the target customer’s needs. If a firm’s competitive strategy targets a customer that demands a very high level of responsiveness, and that customer is willing to pay for this responsiveness, then a firm can use transportation as one driver for making the supply chain more responsive. The opposite is true as well. If a company’s competitive strategy targets customers whose main decision criterion is price, then the company can use transportation to lower the cost of the product at the expense of responsiveness. As a company may use both inventory and transportation to increase responsiveness or efficiency, the optimal decision for the company often means finding the right balance between the two.
Information is a driver whose importance has grown as companies have used it to become both more efficient and more responsive. The tremendous growth of the importance of information technology is a testimony to the impact information can have on improving a company. Like all the other drivers, however, even with information, companies reach a point when they must make the trade-off between efficiency and responsiveness.
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