We’ve just had our supply chain performance independently audited by Grant Thornton, and I’m delighted to say we scored a very impressive 2.7 out of 4 and were rated ‘an exceeding organisation’.
If I tell you that only the likes of Dell and Amazon score anything close to 4, you’ll see that we are punching way above our weight when it comes to managing our inventory, planning our operations and continually improving things like our warehouse and transport performance.
One of the areas where we really excel is in managing the requirements of the Chinese New Year. Anyone who thinks that this is a 2 week holiday has clearly never had any dealings with the Far East. Factories there can shut down for as much as a month to allow the workforces to make long treks home to see their families, and then take even longer to get back to normal production afterwards.
We started our planning for the upcoming Chinese New Year shutdown amongst our supply partners way back in October, even though in 2018 it doesn’t actually happen until February 16. That’s because we make a commitment to all our customers that we will always have the products that they want in stock here at Mila; and this year we spent a record $8m on orders specifically to see us through the affected period.
I’m not sure many customers appreciate the scale or the complexity of our supply chain operation – and I’m sure they would argue, why should they? All that matters to them is that when they place an order with us, it arrives with them on time and in full, and we certainly pride ourselves on the fact that Mila customers can take our reliability for granted.
We do though rely on customers to give us plenty of notice of their requirements before we place our orders. On profile specific products in particular, we can only ensure that we have the optimum amount of stock if customers include us in their planning process. If they don’t, we can either be left with costly excess stock or they risk being left with costly gaps in their production.
Things definitely work best for everyone when there’s a three way partnership between customer, supplier and manufacturer.