A few weeks back we attended an event by the Department of Trade and Industry, unveiling consultations towards the establishment of a new e-commerce roadmap. Many stakeholders were in attendance, from retailers, marketplaces, financial institutions and logistics providers, as well as various government agencies.
A diverse mix, understandable considering the wide scope of what we term as “e-commerce”. In fact, I realized during the event – and the speakers said as much – that there’s no one definition for “e-commerce”. Most of us may think of the traditional (already!) online shopping model, where you buy an item from a particular website and wait for it to be delivered to your destination of choice. But you can expand that definition to cover every interaction and transaction that has an online element. Browsing online for your dream phone’s specs before buying at a physical store? That can be e-commerce. Using services such as PayMaya to pay for your phone bills through your phone? That can be e-commerce. Having your cravings for Coco milk tea satisfied by ordering through the Grab app? That can be e-commerce. If you think hard enough you’ll realize the scope can be daunting – but you can also say it’s what makes it exciting. Your work in improving the whole ecosystem, or even just a portion of it, can impact a lot of lives in the long run.
The same goes with our work here at SCMAP. In normal circumstances you may think of “supply chain” as “logistics”, but of course it’s gone beyond that. It covers everything, from procurement to production, from distribution to retail, and back. If you think hard enough you realize there’s a supply chain component in pretty much every issue that faces us as a society today – Metro Manila traffic, the cashless and sharing economies, the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, even global warming and its impact on food security. They may seem like tangents, but our work in supply chain is impacted – and ultimately impacts – all of that and more. It’s certainly been a challenge – a fulfilling one at that – to present these issues with a supply chain perspective to our members, through our events and our communications.
We have gone a long way from thirty years ago, when our predecessor organization, the Distribution Management Association of the Philippines, was founded. Back then what we’d call “logistics” was segmented: our ten charter members led the physical distribution functions of major manufacturers in the country. As the years passed we’ve had to evolve with the times. We began covering logistics issues in our events early in the 1990s, just as the term gained prominence. Similarly, we began to cover supply chain issues when that term took ground. It wasn’t a deliberate decision; rather, it came naturally, as our members and other stakeholders began to make sense of how their work impacts lives, of how it goes beyond transactions and hits something more substantial.
By the time DMAP became SCMAP in 2007, it wasn’t so much a marketing decision (well, all right, that will be a part of it) but a natural progression, a recognition of the world we are in now, and more importantly, our unique role in bringing all stakeholders together in this important conversation we continue to have. As the years pass and supply chain issues begin to take the forefront more often – port congestion in Manila; the thrust to develop the regions; the rise of e-commerce, whatever that means – we all slowly understand that what we do impacts not just our work, but the lives around it. It’s improving competitiveness. It’s creating jobs. It’s nation-building. It’s not directly that, but in a way, it is.
We call ourselves the “premiere supply chain organization in the Philippines” but we are not under the illusion that we are the only one. There are many industry associations and educational institutions that, whether they know it or not, are involved in these efforts. All of us are working in our own corners, efforts that, when combined, would – should – make lives better, now and in the future.
It was thirty years ago this month – when exactly, we do not know; such are the vagaries of our history – when our ten charter members decided to work together to fight what they saw as unjustified increases in shipping rates. I can’t be certain that they imagined the work of the organization they started would reach farther and deeper. But I’m sure they’d realize it’s a natural progression.
Happy birthday to us.
2019 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference: We have just confirmed new speakers to the most prestigious event in Philippine supply chain: Harvinder Grewal from Orca Cold Chain and Abel Quintos from Globe Telecom. Lourdes Guzman is also moving to our session entitled “Engage: Supply Chain and the Bigger Picture” after her announced retirement from Orca at the end of this month. More information on our event – and how you can register as a delegate, sponsor or exhibit visitor – is on our website, 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.