Procurement May Need to Buy a Clue

Procurement May Need to Buy a Clue

November 5, 2018

The procurement function should reduce its focus on cost cutting and place more emphasis on supplier collaboration.

Supplier collaboration can lead to shorter new product development, potentially discover value added opportunities for all parties, and potentially lead to new product development itself.

The key is shared data and analytics in a collaborative environment.

This post is based on the Supply Chain Digital article, From periphery to driving force – procurement tech is enabling innovation, by Alex Saric, October 6, 2018 Image source: Shutterstock / Syda Productions.

Discussion Question:

1. What happens to new product development within a company if key suppliers’ only concern is cost reduction?

Guidance: Students should review new product development and sourcing.  What happens to quality if there is excessive cost pressure on suppliers?  Is there incentive for suppliers to provide knowledge and help if costs are the only concern by the buyer?  The students should see that a cost reduction focus on sourcing can lead to many poor outcomes if not coupled with long term partnership arrangements.

2. Will sharing data and analytical outcomes with key suppliers be dangerous to the company? What incentives could be put in Continue reading

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New York’s Oat Milk Shortage

New York’s Oat Milk Shortage

September 3, 2018

In 2016, New York City was introduced to Oat Milk. This environmentally friendly product has no added sugar, and less water.  However, its popularity has grown so fast that New York City has run out. Oatly, the company that makes Oat Milk, can’t keep up with demand.

It’s the second most popular milk alternative in Europe. Similar shortages have occurred in Sweden and the U.K.


Video Spotlight: The Latest Trend: Oat Milk


This post is based on the New Yorker article, Hey, Where’s My Oat Milk?, by Antonia Hitchens, August 6 and 13, 2018; and the YouTube video, The Latest Trend: Oat Milk, by The Doctors, April 4, 2018. Image source: © SDM IMAGES / Alamy.

Discussion Questions:

1. What operations management concepts should Oatly re-evaluate in regards to this shortage?

Guidance: Obviously, Oatly should look at their forecasting methods.  The company was unprepared for the rapid increase in Oat Milk’s popularity.  This would be a good place to talk about different types of forecasts.  One of the problems is that this is a new product.  As a result there is a lack of quantitative sales data.

Capacity planning would be Continue reading

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Alibaba Integrates Robots Into The Restaurant

Alibaba Integrates Robots Into The Restaurant

August 2, 2018

Alibaba is experimenting with robots and software applications to streamline the restaurant ordering and wait staff service processes.

Customers check in at a kiosk and are provided a QR code to track their order through the system.  They walk around the market and choose fresh foods, then the food is robotically delivered to refrigerated storage until the customer is seated. Humans still prepare the meal, but instead of handing it off to a waiter, the meal is placed in a “pod” and delivered via conveyor belt to the customer’s table.


Video spotlight: Hema’s New ‘Robotic Restaurant’


This post is based on the Business Insider article, Robots are replacing waiters and delivering fresh seafood right to people’s tables at Alibaba’s high-tech restaurant in Shanghai, by Prachi Bhardwaj, July 2, 2018, and the YouTube video, Hema’s New ‘Robotic Restaurant’, by Alibaba Group, June 26, 2018. Image sources: Corbis/Superstock and Shutterstock / GreenLandStudio.

Discussion Questions:

1. Would the service delivery model Alibaba is pioneering, with advanced robots and conveyor-belt delivery, be acceptable to domestic customers at a fast food restaurant? What about a fine dining restaurant?

Guidance: Students should review the concepts of servicescape, service delivery, and service Continue reading

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