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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Feb. 16, 2017 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Feb. 16, 2017

Walmart Makes Changes to Procurement Organization; Tens of Thousands of US Bridges Need Repair; Lululemon Sees Big Gains from RFID; Another State Goes Right-to-Work, More Coming


20 Million

That's roughly how many SKUs offers, as Reuters this week reported that Walmart for the first time will combine its procurement for products sold at its stores and its website, a significant move to stamp out duplicate efforts to better fight The store and on-line buying teams of the world's largest retailer currently operate independently. Reuters says Walmart has told vendors it is seeking to make the buying process more efficient for itself and suppliers, and improve coordination between its buying teams. It said it also wants to apply its bricks-and-mortar expertise in securing the lowest possible prices to its ecommerce business. Going forward, Walmart's store buying team based at its Bentonville headquarters will place combined store and Web orders with suppliers who sell on both platforms. Under the new system, an item available for sale in the store will also be approved for sale on-line, the sources added. "The way it operated until now was extremely inefficient for us and them," a large consumer goods supplier told Reuters. "For example, they would buy 5 million cases a year for stores and 500 cases for on-line and then make us go through a different buyer for online." By way of comparison, offers about 300 million items, both stocked and through its marketplace platform.




That's how many US bridges are "structurally compromised," as the U.S. Department of Transportation has released its 2016 National Bridge Inventory report. Of those 55,000 worrisome bridges, 13,000 require replacement, widening, or major reconstruction, the report found. About 1,900 of the compromised bridges are on the Interstate Highway System, affecting millions of Americans. The inventory of structurally deficient bridges decreased by just 0.5% over the past year. At that pace, it will take more than 20 years to address all of the problem structures, the report says. "America's highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization," said Alison Premo Black, chief economist of American Road & Transportation Builders Association. "State and local transportation departments haven't been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation's bridge needs." How many billions/trillions of dollars are needed to address the situation? The report does not provide a number for that, but SCDigest can s confidently it's a lot more money than there is available


That's the level of in-store inventory accuracy specialty apparel retailer Lululemon is now achieving with item-level RFID tagging, far above previous levels, according to a recent blog post on LinkedIn by one of the company's IT managers, Jonathan Aitken. The retailer has developed smart phone apps for both store associates and consumers themselves to see where inventory is for a given item across its store network. Consumers can now feel confident that the inventory will be where the system says it is because "RFID Don't Lie," Aitken says, repeating the mantra of Lululemon's RFID operations team. At the recent NRF show in New York City, Aitken said that before the RFID program, the company internally tested its buy on-line, pick up in store service in New York City. More than half the time, Lululemon was unable to fill the test orders because the store inventories were wrong. Now after RFID, it only has inventory issues on 1-4% of on-line orders, depending on the day. Vendor-tagged items are read as they enter a store, then also when sold at the POS system. Fast cycle counts using handheld RFID readers are taken once per week, Aitken said, driving the accuracy improvements.



That's how many so-called right-to-work states there are now in the US, after Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a bill changing the state's rules into law this week, after his elections in November gave Republicans control of both houses of the legislature and the governor's chair. That follows a similar action in Kentucky just a few weeks before that. In right-to-work states, employees at union shops cannot be required to pay union dues if they want to opt out, a provision bitterly opposed by labor. Nevertheless, recent years have seen a number of states in the Midwest - Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan - approve right-to-work rules, joining existing states in the South and Midwest, to create a growing majority of right to work states. New Hampshire is also on the verge of passing right-to-work legislation, likely to be approved by a new Republican governor, and there is a similar move in Ohio, also controlled all by Republicans, to do the same. That would leave Illinois as the only Midwestern state old out, as seen in the map above.

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