Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tis' the Season to Spread Supply Chain Cheer

For most, it's the season of spreading holiday cheer, but for me I am spreading the gospel of the supply chain. Last week I was in a small retail store chain called Fishs Eddy, which is known for its eclectic dinnerware and pottery. For the 2005 holiday season they started marketing a new 22' inch platter with Brooklyn scenery around the edge - no good Brooklynite worth his/her weight in cheesecake could ever pass this up at $25. So I made the trek to the store only to discover that the platters are stuck in US Customs. The store proprietor seemed very frustrated and couldn't understand why US Customs would be holding his perfectly safe platters for several weeks, when he has been importing products for more than a dozen years.

Knowing a thing or two about logistics I asked him a few questions about the platter including, where it was coming from?, if it was a new supplier? and if he has imported from this country in the past?. With a perplexed look he answered the questions with "Eastern Europe, yes and no". I explained to him that US Customs isn't so much concerned with the platters, but with any contraband that could have been smuggled into the containers carrying the platters. I also explained that because this is his first time he is importing from Eastern Europe, US Customs views this as an anomaly, which can raise a red flag indicating that a closer inspection is needed. With a smile he appreciated my remarks and his facial expression seemed to ask "where were you when I ordered these in August?"

Which got me thinking, maybe NYC could use a supply chain superhero or a supply chain mascot like Santa Claus, spreading supply chain advice instead of gifts to all the local retailers. Anyone interested?

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