Supply Chain Solutions: Reliability Through Relationships

This month’s installment of the customer solutions blog brings up a new challenge with familiar themes. We’re talking about rush orders again but with a twist that really highlights why having the right industry partners pays dividends.

A longtime customer of St. Charles Trading (SCT) regularly orders the same product with slight variations in the total quantity per order.

We have worked with them so long that we know the drill.

The product normally has a 2–3-week lead time which is why a Regional Sales Service Representative (RSSR) reaches out to the customer on the 3rd week of each month to get the next two months of purchasing projections. They then place purchase orders for the upcoming two months.

To put it differently; we already have inventory on hand for the customer for January and February but in the third week of January we ask the customer how much product they’ll need in February and March. This way we always have the right amount of product available when the customer needs it.

The other wrinkle in this process is that the customer has us restack the pallets with half as many bags on each. For example, if 100 pallets come to our warehouse with 40 bags on each, we ship out 200 pallets with 20 bags on each. This restacking takes a day, and the shipping turnaround takes a day which all adds to the lead time.  

In this case the customer gave us their projections and we place orders with the supplier for 2-3 weeks out, as is typical for this product. The customers projections aren’t purchase orders, they just help us have enough product on hand for when they place an order.

And wouldn’t you know it, the customer placed a PO just one week after giving their projections, as they say, “the best laid plans…”. Thank goodness for great supplier relations! Our purchasing agent got on the phone with our supplier and managed to arrange product pickup for 3 days before the delivery date on our customers PO. That was just enough time to restack the pallets before shipping them back out to the customer.

While all that was going on the RSSR coordinated with our 3PL to have a truck pick up product from our supplier and deliver it to our warehouse for restacking. She also arranged for another truck to deliver the product 2 days later which was the delivery date given by our customer. We pulled it off just in time.

It just goes to show that if you’re going it alone in this industry it can all go wrong quickly.

If you’re trying to get product from distributors who treat you like a customer instead of as a partner you deserve better. We go the extra mile to ensure you have the material you need, on time, just the way you need it to make your business run smoothly. We have the industry relationships to get product earlier than others can. Its all about treating people right and helping them succeed. That’s why we say, “Without you, there is no us!” 

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