Given the focus on the athletic apparel space that Lululemon has vs. breaking into other product categories, I do think there is merit to consolidating their manufacturing partners, if not at the very least for certain key parts of their business be it for tops and bottoms vs. jackets and bags. As we have seen in several instances, e.g., Li and Fung, IKEA or Domino’s Pizza, the more control a company has over its supply chain, the more ability it has to ensure quality, timeliness and reduced cost.
That said, because Lululemon is not only creating the apparel but also often setting athletic apparel fashion trends, I would not recommend JIT manufacturing. While responsiveness to customer preferences is important both to capture sales and reduce inventory holding and/or discounting, I believe part of Lululemon’s value proposition is to show customers designs and outfits they otherwise would not think to purchase by having them modeled in stores or seen in major cities. Consequently, I would think having more control over its supply chain, either through consolidation or even building very strong relationships with suppliers, would be Lululemon’s best tactic to ensure it delivers on time at the highest quality for its customers vs. trying to respond one to one to customer demand.
As this article aptly demonstrates, much of the digitization of supply chain functions is as much a response to the technologies now available as it is to the ways in which customer behavior has changed as a result of their emergence. Consequently, when it comes to purchasing a soda through facial recognition or getting serviced via chatbot, I think it is more a question of when vs. if. Given iPhone X opens through facial recognition, and many companies are already using chatbots for orders, e.g. Spotify or Whole Foods, it would appear that the technology is not only here, it is already changing consumer behavior.
Thus, while these technologies may not be the most applicable to vending machines, I do think Coca Cola should move forward in exploring their use cases. As a company whose worldwide footprint is immense, I would imagine that its vending machines will at least stand the test of the time for the next 20-30 years as a key mechanism for distribution given access to Coca Cola products is far from even.
In a world that sees over 1,000 chemicals come onto the market every given year according to the EPA’s most recent statistics, and one whose population is growing at 83 million people per year, I would argue there is no question some form of innovation is necessary to feed our changing world. While not well versed on the alternatives to genetic engineering, I consider its ability to help crops resist harsh weather conditions and maintain, if not increase, crop yield as quite compelling.
Monsanto recognizes that while it has one of the strongest positions to influence the seed development market, every year competition increases. Consequently, farmers are now faced with an ever-growing array of choices, and subsequently, prices, on what seeds to plant (https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/seed-industry-competition/). If we therefore take it as given that these new technologies and/or chemicals are here to stay, I believe that it is in our best interest to find ways to support the leading companies, most notably Monsanto, who are arguably essential to our ability to survive and adapt to our changing planet.
Similar to the author, I agree that using the current Indian component manufacturers is not worth the risk to product quality and subsequently the Apple brand. Given that Apple’s website has an entire section dedicated to their suppliers’ responsibility, most notably stating,
“We have a great responsibility to protect the rights of all the people in our supply chain, and to do everything we can to preserve our planet’s fragile environment. That’s why we obsess over every detail of how we build our products. And it’s why we invest in education and training to provide opportunities and tools to help our suppliers’ employees today and in the future.” (https://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/)
it is clear that any concessions in this philosophy would have large effects on not only what Apple produces but also what it stands for.
That said, India is not your typical market. Currently, India is considered the second largest smartphone market, increasing by 23% or 40 million units by Q3 2017. Of this increase, however, Samsung and Xiaomi accounted for almost half. (https://www.canalys.com/newsroom/india-overtakes-us-become-second-largest-smartphone-market) With 1.2 billion people, growing at a rate of 1.17% on top of 14% of the current population is ages 0-14 with a median age of 27, there is no doubt this is a more than viable market in which Apple should invest heavily. Consequently, in the face of “Make In India,” it would seem at least a short to midterm step is less to lobby for Apple-only supply chain exceptions and rather, seek to partner with the Indian government to demonstrate bringing the values Apple has regarding the quality of its suppliers to the communities and people of India.
Given how broad climate change’s impact is for companies’ supply chains across industries, I do think that both shareholders and customers are prepared to adjust their expectations when it comes to returns and prices respectively, especially for those that seek to engage with a given company in the long run.
In fact, for several companies, operating sustainably has become a competitive advantage both by decreasing operating costs, and subsequently maintaining, if not actually lowering, product prices. Examples include Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Caterpillar, all of whose commitment to this issue made them not only industry leaders in sustainability but also significant contributors to the education needed to reset both investor and consumer expectations. (https://hbr.org/2007/03/competitive-advantage-on-a-warming-planet)
In Kellogg’s situation, one in which its supply chain rests on raw materials that have always been subject to multiple yield-impacting variables, I will be curious to see if their sustainability efforts push them to focus on any products in particular depending on whether the production of corn, wheat, rice, potatoes or sugar contributes more or less to ongoing climate change.
Seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place in more ways than one, NHS must decide which of its customers, “shareholders” or “Board” take priority in the face of this misalignment. While that is clearly much easier said than done, I would argue that given it was “created out of the idea that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth,” that it serves 64.6 million people in the UK, and 3 out of its 7 core principles are about putting patients first, shareholders are the customers to focus on in the face of the challenges Brexit presents. (https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/nhscoreprinciples.aspx)
That said, such a focus does not mean a dismissal or inability to serve its “Board” customers within the UK government. Positioning their desire to deliver on their promise to UK citizens should be a compelling reason for the UK government to collaborate with the NHS on how to arrive at the best solutions to prepare for and mitigate the effects that Brexit will have on access to technetium-99m. In some ways, this conversation can hopefully open the door to general conversations for how the NHS can work with the UK government more proactively to discuss the implications of any imminent or future trade decisions that drastically affect their ability to offer health care in accordance with the values they espouse.