W.W. Grainger, an incorporated business organization was selected as the subject matter of this project. The company’s product segments focus on repair, maintenance, and operating supplies, having adapted from the company’s original product focus, which was that of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts (“W.W. Grainger Inc (GWW)”, 2019). This company was chosen in particular because of its track record for success. The company’s track record is impressive because it has enjoyed success throughout an entire century, which has included multiple depressions, recessions, and periods of downturned economies.
The thought process for the selection due to this success was that it would deem itself a great learning opportunity for supply chain improvement recommendations, mostly because the recommendations would be tougher to determine than if an otherwise struggling organization had been chosen instead. The researcher is most interested in learning how to develop leaner, more cost-efficient supply chains, after all, rather than saving fledgling organizations. The selection of W.W. Grainger is designed to provide that type of education.
W.W. Grainger operates in a globalized market with an even now further extended product offering. The company has now began conducting business via fasteners, lighting, tools, plumbing, and a wide array of safety supplies, as well as having introduced an alternate venture, Zoro Tools (“W.W. Grainger Inc (GWW)”, 2019). W.W. Grainger currently conducts business in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America (“W.W. Grainger Inc (GWW)”, 2019). There are other competitors in these markets that offer lower-cost, cheaper, ‘knock-off’ products to compete with W.W. Grainger. This makes it even more imperative for the company to find ways to reduce costs through a leaner supply chain, as it needs to have the margin availability for price reductions of its products, should that ever become necessary to remain standing against these competitors. Creating a leaner supply chain can be best achieved by managing and changing any inefficiencies that currently exist within the company’s supply chain, which it does acknowledge that a few do exist (Swanson, 2018).
W.W. Grainger’s supply chain is not only international, but it is also vast and complex. Complex supply chains are commonplace for companies with as large of a reach as W.W. Grainger. This can also make maintaining quality standards more difficult (Majta, 2012). Further, as supply chains grow, both horizontal and vertical logistics relationships occur in droves. It is important to W.W. Grainger to not only initiate all domestic and international horizontal and vertical logistics relationships strategically, but to put forth great effort to consistently monitor, analyze, maintain, and improve those relationships. Increasing the responsibility, and thus, speed of all of these relationships would be best served by ensuring the W.W. Grainger’s IT Infrastructure allows for highly efficient communication. Perhaps the hiring of higher-level analysists would be recommended to ensure no communication is being lost.
In terms of specific recommendations to improve W.W. Grainger’s supply chain, it is first recommended that the company invest in a more robust and better structured e-procurement system. E-procurement systems make a wide variety of day-to-day functions easier to complete, such as the taking and maintenance of customer orders, as well as the ordering of components from suppliers. High quality, extensive e-procurement systems also make data analysis much easier, as greater degrees of data are more easily available, as are reports and statistics that can be viewed quickly. Thus, such systems specifically help companies like W.W. Grainger decide exactly what needs to be restructured and where and how their vast supply chains need process improvement projects to be initiated the most. Information is the key to success in today’s highly competitive business climate, and W.W. Grainger could never possibly have too much information, as long as it is accurate. A better system would ensure this.
Finally, the more efficient management of inventory levels is recommended. W.W. Grainger is such a large company and its inventory count is massive. Bettering the management of this massive inventory again relates back to a key component of supply chain best practice: the provision of data. It is recommended that W.W. Grainger fine tunes its Days of Supply, Inventory Turnover Ratio, Reorder Point, and Economic Order Quantity metrics. It is also recommended that achievable goals are set for each area, and then diligently monitored over time.
Majta, M. (2012, October 4). Managing the risks of a globalized supply chain. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/10/04/managing-the-risks-of-a-globalized-supply-chain/#488af21539d8
Swanson, B. (2018). Supply chain management: the next frontier in savings. Grainger. Retrieved from https://www.grainger.com/know-how/business-operations/ecommerce-solutions/kh-supply-chain-management-the-next-frontier-in-savings
W.W. Grainger Inc (GWW). (2019). Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile/GWW