Supply chain management is concerned with the efficient integration of suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses and stores so that merchandise is produced and distributed in the right quantities, to the right locations, and at the right time. Thus, a large focus on my research is on how to model and design supply chains. I have focused much of my research on logistics, which is concerned with the efficient flow and storage of goods from point of origin to point of consumption. I like to think of “Logistics” as the “verbs” that make the supply chain work. Check out this link to learn more about a career and new research areas in logistics.
I am a firm believer that now is an important and fun time to be involved with supply chain and logistics. This is because supply chain and logistics play a significant force economically (logistics and transportation made up 8.5% of the US’s GDP in 2012), environmentally (as the movements in the supply chain are a heavy generator of greenhouse gasses), and socially (we as consumers are demanding that everything should be delivered quickly). Many of the biggest tech companies have an emphasis on the supply chain (think Amazon, Uber, Google).
A few areas that I personally think are interesting, include:
Online shopping is becoming more and more popular. However, the brick-and-mortar store customer has not disappeared. Retail chains need to address the growing set of online shoppers while still satisfying the in-store customer experience.
One way to serve both customers is through the use of “ship-from-store” methods, where online orders are fulfilled using inventory from a brick-and-mortar store. One of advantage that ship-from-store provides is the ability to virtually pool inventory, making a brick-and-mortar store’s inventory available to online customers. This can reduce stockouts and markdowns, which are two leading factors that decrease a retail stores profit margin. Another benefit of ship-from-store is faster delivery times, as stores are typically located closer to customers than distribution centers. These benefits come with a more complex fulfillment strategy and a number of interesting research questions exists. If you are interested in learning more, check out Kurt Salmon, Winning the ship from store battle – strategies and tactics.
On-demand peer-to-peer logistics systems use a business model for the movement and storage of goods that matches independent supply resources (warehouse space, truck space, delivery services) to requests on demand. Examples include Flexe, Cargomatic, Instacart, Flexport, among others. On-demand P2P Logistics systems use internet-based platforms to provide wide-reach visibility into untapped resource capacity. This has the potential to increase resource visibility, utilization, accessibility, and flexibility. Thus, if designed and operated with societal goals in mind, P2PRSS have the potential to be powerful social, economic, and environmental forces transforming how businesses operate and people live. Here’s a WERC webinar with me talking about the characteristics of these systems and explaining how these systems vary from traditional warehousing and logistic systems.
I discuss why I find on-demand peer-to-peer logistics systems interesting and challenging here: