Supply Chain Branding, Part 2

The Three Biggest Opportunities.

· marketing,blog,logistics and systems

Part 2: The Three Biggest Opportunities in Supply Chain Branding.


Last week I posted part one of this two-part series on Supply Chain Branding. You can read it here.


Today, I'm moving from observing Supply Chain marketing problems and discussing why people invest in brand building to the three most significant opportunities I see at the intersection of Supply Chain and Branding.


1) Becoming Findable Online.

Currently, quite a few supply chain businesses are hard to find online because their digital marketing placements do not match the buying patterns of modern consumers. Not being findable means suppliers are missing out on potential business and must rely on a limited number of placements (exposure) to generate additional business.


Branding and, more specifically, brand strategy strongly focus on selecting where messages are placed - on which platforms and distribution channels - so that a company's offer, value proposition, and list of services are findable.

The first stand-out opportunity is in bringing more nodes online. Specifically, to address how they present themselves to customers and communities to become findable—setting up and showing their brand in places that more closely match how modern consumers seek content—in doing so, unlocking valuable relationships that are, for now, being left out and in the open for someone else.

2) Recruit the Next Generation.

Supply chain operations can be tricky to explain to people that are outside the industry; this means hiring staff, growing your team, finding students, and, essentially, the next generation of superstars that will carry on a company's legacy is a unique challenge.


The problem ends with an industry that is understaffed and lacks the engagement of qualified individuals—asking questions such as, what type of career is on offer? Can one progress professionally? And "Why would I want to work in logistics?". To existing logistics and supply chain management professionals, the answers to these questions are self-evident and exciting. Even other courses and professions - such as engineering, fashion, law and finance - see the value of understanding supply chain principles.


The root cause of these 'people issues' heavily concerns branding and perception. The marketing of the industry and individual nodes has not sufficiently communicated the benefits of being involved or the expectations required to participate.


Posing three key questions: How is the supply chain industry seen? Does this perception differ from reality? What can be done to address these gaps and tailor a new understanding and appeal to attract talented individuals?


Answering these questions and investing in brand building, storytelling, content marketing, and sharing the legacy of existing businesses in a clear, compelling, and authentically relatable way is a significant opportunity for the supply chain industry.

3) Building a Branded Supply Chain.

The supply chain space has changed over the last few years, from IoT to advancements in cloud software and algorithmically driven warehouses supported by the likes of AI and automation. How supply chain networks function and contribute to the overall delivery process has had to respond to technological advancements, COVID-19, global supply constraints, and labour shortages.


As the world has become more advanced and interconnected, the complexities associated with such advancements are too taxing to try and tackle alone. Just as big and small operators rallied and collaborated during COVID, I believe the most significant opportunity in Supply Chain Branding is to push things even further and brand entire supply networks.


This approach already exists in some scenarios. Airlines have code-sharing and point-sharing partnerships (such as Star Alliance and Oneworld). Amazon offers a white-labelled supply chain services suite through their Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) operations. And Australia Post leverages its brand and recognizability to collect orders then uses a network of sub-contractors to deliver to the final destination.


I forecast this as an opportunity that can go even further, rather than collaboration as a marriage of convenience. People develop branded networks tailored to a product profile while aggregating trust under a unifying Supply Chain Brand.


For example:

  • Want to ship something small? Use Amazon.
  • Need to do something once? Use Startrack.
  • Want to consolidate all of your online orders to be a single point of delivery? Use - "Insert SC Brand Name Here".
  • Developing a new product line and need to run a small test batch to see if the idea has legs? "Insert Product Startup Supply Chain Name Here".
  • The idea worked, and you want to level things up to manage greater order quantities? "Insert Growing-Production Supply Chain Name Here".

The list could go on and on.


In each case, the value proposition is straightforward. Coordinating nodes, shipping rights for multiple countries, lead times, dock fees, transport providers, quality control, and much more is more work than the convenience of dealing with a single agent from a network that you trust. Also, the agent have you the tools to give you all the information you need because the network of interactions has been designed for interconnection off the shelf. Empowered with a primary purpose of providing a good service as things inevitably need to be changed, updated, or rerouted.

What I hypothesise is not easy to implement for the hesitant. But the idea is simple: give people a trusted brand to choose from—a collective of brand partners who all benefit. Individuals, by being part of an alliance, supply chain networks from the increased business, and everyone grows due to the greater pool of resources available to promote their brand and build a known service distinction.


Effectively, what I'm describing is the retail-ification of the Supply Chain. A feat Uber achieved when it became synonymous with "getting a ride home". To this day, Uber does not have "employees" to drive their cars; their network of drivers is very similar to the 3PL and 4PL subcontractors used by transport companies leveraging this model. But Uber is by far the most well-known brand for transporting people with convenience. Even though they're now overpriced, they are chosen for being the brand that people know about over their competitors. Imagine that same preferential power applied to the rest of the B2B and B2C supply chains.