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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

June 15, 2018

Another View of the Best Supply Chains

Different Methodologies of Course Lead to Different Results in Gartner and Kantar Top Supply Chain Lists

I recently summarized both the results and the method used by Gartner to compile the Top 25 Supply Chain list for 2018, an approach first started by the former AMR Research in 2004. Gartner acquired AMR in 2009.

The list of course much interest, and companies that make it naturally tout that honor. As I noted in my column, I occasionally get calls from companies looking for advice on how to make the top 25.

Let me first say that I do not have a better way to compile a top supply chain list than the way Gartner does it. Only limited information is available for analysis – no one is sharing cost information, as just one example.

Gilmore Says....

Colgate-Palmolive was the number 4 ranked supply chain overall and second highest CPG company in Gartner – but alas Colgate does not even make the Kantar top 10 list of just CPG manufacturer supply chains.

What do you say?

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That said, there are a number of criticisms that I think can be fairly leveled at the process. Those include:

Only large companies of $12 billion or greater revenue are considered.

The way the financial metrics are used does not necessarily connect with supply chain excellence. Does Apple's huge revenue growth really stem primarily from supply chain excellence? Should McDonald's benefit in the rankings because its business model with outsourced food service providers and daily deliveries give it a huge number of inventory turns versus most companies? Even the return on assets metric gives advantage to companies that have outsourced their supply chains and thus have a lower assets bases. But that strategy doesn't necessarily deliver a superior supply chain.

Even the so-called peer rankings, under which some 184 I assume Gartner clients rank the top supply chains (well not really the best supply chains, but those that are tops in "demand driven value network orchestration," a rather unclear criterion) is a bit suspect. How does anyone really know whether say chemical maker BASF (which made the top 25) has a better supply chain than say Target stores (which did not)? Is the ranking based on just public perception, vested interests in the outcome, something else?

The same observation could be made for the 42 Gartner analysts that perform a similar ranking. I think many of these analysts have a broader view of supply chain activities than the average peer group participant, but no one really knows how to rank performance across 300 supply chain candidates.

Finally, 10% of the Gartner total formula is now comprised of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) score obtained from third party sources. CSR may be a good thing, but certainly many aspects of these CSR scores are disconnected from what we normally think of as supply chain performance.

I think these are all fair critiques, yet I understand Gartner's position in terms of a lack of other data and and no obvious way to address these questions.

Well, there is actually is another way. That is to directly ask companies that should be in the know about the supply chain performance of other companies because they have on-going experience as trading partners.

That is the approach that Kantar Retail (now Kantar Consulting) has been taking for many years in its annual PoweRankings report, last delivered at the end of 2017.

The full study covers a number of company performance measures for both consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, including such areas as brand power, marketing programs, sales teams, overall business fundamentals, and more. Supply chain management is one of the categories included in the survey.

The rankings for last year, as always, were developed through the interesting methodology of asking retailers to rate manufacturers on each of these categories, and manufacturers to rank retailers on a similar set of attributes. Most major CPG companies and retailers take part, with about 80 participant companies in each group.

Both manufacturers and retailers are from the consumer packaged goods, food and beverage areas. That means manufacturers in such categories as apparel/soft goods, electronics, hard goods, etc., are not included. Similarly, the participating retailers are drawn exclusively from sectors such as mass merchandise, traditional grocery, warehouse clubs, and drug store chains that focus on consumer packaged goods sales, and does not for example include department stores or most specialty retail areas. For the last few of years, however, has been included in the retail group.

The scores represent the percentage of respondents that place a given manufacturer or retailer as having one of the top three supply chains in the industry.

So the analysis pool is limited to CPG type companies and their retail channel partners. That said, below are the top rated consumer goods supply chains for 2017:


Top CPG Supply Chain from Kantar PoweRankings Report


Just to be clear, the results says that 42.6% of retailers placed PepsiCo as having one of the top three CPG supply chains, as did 29.3% of retailers for number 2 Coca-Cola, etc.

Interesting, as always – and naturally leading me to wonder how these results compare to the Gartner Top 25.

The top rated overall supply chain across all companies was CPG manufacturer Unilever. It was number 5 in the Kantar rankings of just CPG companies. Colgate-Palmolive was the number 4 ranked supply chain overall and second highest CPG company in Gartner – but alas Colgate does not even make the Kantar top 10 list of just CPG manufacturer supply chains, as rated by their retail customers. There are other such discrepancies.

A somewhat similar story on the retail side, though the comparisons are more difficult:

Top Select Retailer Supply Chain from Kantar PoweRankings Report


Amazon has been placed in the Gartner “supply chain masters” category for consistent appearance in the top 5 of the rankings, and thus was not included in the actual top 25 for 2018. But in the Kantar rankings, based on CPG company ratings, Amazon is number 6, behind Walmart, Kroger, Costo, Publix and Target.

Of those five retail companies, only Walmart made the Gartner top 25. Target (which may or may not have been one of the companies that has called me in the past about getting in the Gartner list) gets some justice in the Kantar rankings.

How to reconcile these differences? Don't know. The methodologies are totally different, so different results should be expected. But ratings from counterparts at trading partners seems about as good an input that you can get to gauge supply chain excellence.

What is your reaction to these comparisons between the Garnter and Kantar lists? How would you improve the Gartenr approach? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.

Your Comments/Feedback




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