Home » SCMAP Perspective » Is Supply Chain for Big Business Only?

When we start this year’s Supply Chain Immersion this Thursday, we won’t be gathering at a pier and boarding a ship. It will be different this time around: we will board a bus and head north, first to Clark and then to Subic, where we will touch base with local stakeholders and see opportunities and challenges in supply chain from their perspective. It will be heavy on tours: we will be visiting Yokohama Tires and Texas Instruments, two of the biggest locators in Clark, before going to the Clark International Airport and the Subic Bay International Terminal, the two major gateways to the region. The hope is that our delegates will understand how the Clark/Subic corridor has developed and is developing, and how it can contribute not just to the growth of the regional and national economy, but also of their companies.


As we worked out the last details in the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but think of a… let’s call it a challenge. As we enlisted major companies and stakeholders to take part in this year’s event—as speakers, tour stops, or participants—I wondered whether many still think supply chain is a concern only for big businesses, for those with a national footprint, for those who want (and have the means) to tap into a wide customer base. But of course we’ve long established that supply chain is no longer just a competitive advantage but a critical part of any business, whatever its size may be. Ensuring your supply chain works means ensuring your customers get served no matter what the circumstances may be—and this is relevant whether you’re a multinational manufacturer or a sari-sari store.


It’s a challenge partly because it stems from a rapid evolution of mindsets. The Distribution Management Association of the Philippines was founded, almost thirty years ago, with ten members among major manufacturers in the country, seeking to address issues that affect their competitiveness. Over the years, as the focus shifted towards what we’d call “logistics”, and then towards “supply chain”, we began seeing things more differently just as we attracted more stakeholders across the chain, from manufacturers and distributors, to logistics providers (both services and products) and retailers.


Just in the past few years we codified our vision of supply chain as an important part not just of the success of any business, but of the success of any country. The “Go World Class!” battlecry we rolled out three years ago isn’t just an exhortation for our members, but an exhortation for everyone. Our concerns are no longer just about exorbitant shipping rate increases, but also about the quality of our infrastructure, the competitiveness of bureaucracy, and the ability to understand what consumers want. All this connects not just with the well-being of businesses, but also the well-being of citizens and families.


We have also come to understand that these concerns do not just apply to big businesses but also to small players. The entrepreneurs, the small businesses, the online resellers—they also have a lot at stake when it comes to enhancing our supply chain capabilities, by improving our networks and processes, as well as our understanding of key concepts and new developments. As roughly 95% of the country’s businesses fall under micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, this affects the entirety of our economic ecosystem.


The challenge, then, is to ensure that everyone understands the critical role a strong and robust supply chain plays, and more critically, that everyone understands what they can do to ensure this. It doesn’t have to involve complex transportation networks (although, in the grand scheme of things, it does have an impact, even if you’re just an end-retailer) or high-end technology solutions. What matters is an understanding of the underlying principles: the elements that ensure the flow not just of products and services, but also of information and of cash, as well as the many variables in your environment that can make or break your supply chain. It doesn’t matter what size your enterprise is; no one solution works for all. But we talk about the big companies because they have succeeded—to whip up the imagination, so to speak. It can be done, even if you’re just a sari-sari store.


For those joining us this weekend in Clark, we look forward to seeing you. And if you haven’t registered yet for this year’s Supply Chain Perspective in Clark on May 17, you can do so at scmap.org.


Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.


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