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On December 1, 2017, EHM commented on Nissan after Brexit: Driving Manufacturing out of the UK? :

I am skeptical that vertical integration in the UK will be cost effective without the help of the UK government to bolster the supply base, and would urge Nissan to evaluate other EU markets. I am also curious what factors could be evaluated to assess the likelihood the UK government will come through with subsidization? Such as past investments and how many other companies/industries are currently lobbying for similar infrastructure investment?

Your argument clearly highlights the benefits of NAFTA to consumers, who will bear the ultimate cost of its removal. Magna seems well-positioned to weather the storm if NAFTA is removed since they already have production capabilities in all of their customers’ markets and proximity to their customers generates an advantage. I am more concerned for smaller players without this network in place, who will also struggle to be heard in Washington.

I am struck by the extensive programs The Body Shop already has in place to reduce the environmental impact of its operations, and think The Body Shop needs to ensure it is communicating these initiatives to its customers, who will pay a premium for sustainable products. The tactic of holding additional inventory buffers at intermediary distributors seems like a viable short-term solution, although I am curious what costs, shelf-life, and other resource constraints could pose limits on its effectiveness. In the long-term, I am skeptical of educational programs, and believe that The Body Shop will need to invest in identifying, educating, and directly implementing measures (such as planting trees) to improve its CFT partners’ resilience against weather pattern changes.

Similarly to Ikea’s role in wood supply, Nestlé’s responsibility extends through the 680,000 farmers in its outsourced supply chain. I think it is important that Nestlé formalize a closer partnership (or multiple) to expand their programs to ensure all operations are meeting clearly established sustainability goals. As customers continue to demand more information about their products, this type of information needs to be both closely tracked and communicated and I agree that Nestlé should seize the opportunity to establish a clear comparative advantage in this regard!

On December 1, 2017, EHM commented on Coca-Cola’s Vending Machines Get Smart :

Coca-Cola’s smart vending machines present an incredible alignment of operations and marketing objectives! Not only do they provide all the supply chain benefits of real time digital inventory tracking, but they are also enabling an enhanced customer experience through optimized pricing and promotional practices. In an increasingly digital world, consumers are constantly bombarded with messaging, and it is more important than ever to maximize every engagement a company has with its customers. While I share your privacy concerns, I am optimistic about Coca-Cola’s investment in AI chatbots and facial recognition software, because they will generate rich insights that will allow Coca-Cola to deliver an even more customized and optimal experience.

Implementing digital tracking and management at the container-level has clearly had significant impact on Maersk’s operations, through improved process flow, turn times, labor utilization and waste management. These improvements have generated bottom-line financial results through cost reductions and compelling environmental benefits that can be used to justify further investment in this technology to shareholders. In the context of a prevailing macro-trend towards customers demanding increased transparency of information, especially potent in the food and perishable goods space, expanding tracking capabilities to the item-level is an imperative next step. This capability will offer Maersk a competitive advantage today, while also ensuring that it is positioned for long-term success. Monetizing these type of technologies as a secondary revenue stream is not likely to be a profitable future opportunity for Maersk. Technology companies, like Ericsson, are better positioned to deliver the hardware and software components based on their existing competencies. Maersk’s current model working with partners is an efficient way to leverage the improvements while staying focused on its core shipping business.