It’s all about the OTIF

I get Mila’s performance metrics delivered into my inbox at 6.30am every morning. Such is our focus on keeping our customers supplied with product at the moment that they’re the first thing I look at when I pick up my phone.

As I’ve said before on this blog, none of us could reasonably have expected demand to surge back in the way that it has since the end of lockdown, and it’s continuing to put immense pressure on suppliers and supply chains.

Mila is still at more than 100% of last year’s order levels and, while I’m still cautious about what will happen once the furlough scheme unfolds, there’s no sign yet of that demand faltering.

I’m not complaining obviously, we are in a relatively good position when it comes to stock vs demand, but it does mean that everyone at Mila – from front line sales to supply chain – is more focused than ever on keeping our line OTIF as high as possible.

As of today, it’s sitting at 92.8%, which is way down on where we would be in normal times but, judging by the number of enquiries we’re getting from fabricators who are being let down by their current supplier, much higher than many of our competitors.

We’re doing all we can to help everyone as you’d expect, but we can’t do that if it’s at the expense of existing customers. Every single order that comes into us is still being assessed against stock levels and forecasted demand and we’re continuing to give loyal Mila customers priority.

However, that doesn’t mean we’re not investing tens of thousands of pounds in air freight to get more product onto our shelves as quickly as we can. We’ve got lots of stock on the way to us by sea which will be with us within weeks, but, for now, we’re also having weekly meetings to make sure we use the air freight option as effectively as possible.

The reason we’re able to do that of course is that Mila has the resources available to be able to invest. To ensure continuity of supply post lockdown, we maintained contract terms with all of our suppliers throughout. We may have pushed some orders back, but our approach has meant that they are still very much on our side and are pulling out all the stops to make sure we get that line OTIF back up to the 98%+ levels which our customers have come to expect.

As we’re already seeing, suppliers are quite rightly being judged by their customers now on their performance during and after the lockdown. I’m incredibly proud of how Mila has responded so far, and I can reassure both new and existing customers that we’ll keep doing what we’re doing for as long as it takes.


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