For Charles, the writing had been on the wall for a while – and the steady decline of business meant that as a Global Supply Chain specialist, he was entering a new way of working. Having worked with industry trendsetters like May Department Stores and Bakers Footwear and when 2012 hit, Charles took the biggest career risk by going independent. It paid off, and 5 years on, not only has he had the opportunity to work with Marvel Entertainment (a division of The Walt Disney Company), but his own consultancy practice has delivered new business opportunity in a range of new areas.
We talk to Charles about Supply Chain, the Future of Warehousing and Logistics and why organisations need a massive shake up in the way approach cost-savings in the “retail apocalypse”.
Forget minimum wage – there’s a new trend in the Supply Chain town
“I’ve spent 23 years in retail supply chain and have crossed into Wine & Spirits and other warehousing industries since then. As a whole, my opinion is that supply chain is facing a huge labour issue. As of October 2017, labour is down to 4.1% in the US. In 2018, the cost of labour is going to start accelerating at an increased rate,” he tells me. “For example, California currently pays $11 per hour minimum wage, but that is due to settle at $15 per hour by 2020. Companies need to look at how that labour works – and as we move forward into 2018 and beyond, what’s truly going to drive the labour market is the cost of each unit per hour – with a view to making warehouses operate with the least amount of cost, highest amount of efficiency and maximum productivity – all on a daily basis,” he says.
And it’s the issue of labour and productivity that Charles knows a lot about. Specialising in helping businesses improve their supply chain from factory to customer delivery, he takes the smallest improvement principles and marries that to an overall business strategy. The streamlined, transparent supply chain that evolves not only improves the relationship between his clients and their customers, but allows the organisations he works with to prosper, the staff to enjoy a better all-rounded work life and sets the organisation up for next phase growth.
What’s the deal with Labour vs Robotics?
Charles tells me that with all the talk about automation and robotics, people are overlooking the fact that there are a huge amount of businesses and people who are not quite jumping on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) bandwagon as quickly as one may think. “There’s lots of talk about Alibaba and Amazon using robots to run everything. But that’s actually a small section of the supply chain community. There are lots of people under the $500million category that still use the same supply chain that they’ve been using for the past 15 years! Many companies are starting to move in a more digital direction and they’re seeing their costs come down. They’re transforming their organisations and seeing the benefits.”
Charles talks about some of the processes in the supply chain industry that are holding people back, and risking their entire futures. “It astounds me how so many companies, for example ToysRUs, have huge stores setup across the US – but they’re still utilising a 3rd party to do all of their shipping for them. You’re paying a 3rd party to handle something for you, when you have associates all over the US to do that for you – and much cheaper too,” he says. Charles’ answer to the so-called “retail apocalypse” is for a sincere look internally within operations and what they have available to them, instead of looking for outside solutions to solve problems that is holding them back from surviving. “Some companies are looking towards alternatives to shipping – with in-store collections, while others are embracing independent talent to help them overcome critical organisational hurdles. “Organisations that are actively using independent talent mean that you have accessibility to the same skill that you may find in one of the Big 4 Consulting businesses, but without the price tag, and without the longer turn-around times,” he adds.
Cross-functional synchronicity and problem-solving
I ask Charles what he thinks the biggest issue is within the Supply Chain and Warehousing Industries today. “Without a doubt – silo-ed companies,” he says without hesitation. “Building efficiency and productivity only comes when everyone works together. Where everything that happens within logistics is often considered to be the backbone of the animal, through which everything passes and moves, a paradigm shift needs to happen where cross-functional consistency means that when things go wrong, it’s not simply passed along – but people work together to solve the problem as it occurs.” And this is where Charles works at his best – building supply chain roadmaps, working with organisations to evaluate and implement cost saving and efficiency improvement initiatives that helps them to deliver quicker, cheaper, better – while keeping their cross-functional teams working in synchronicity towards a common purpose.
If you’re ready to transform your supply chain and warehousing process to set 2018 on course for new success, then it’s time to talk to someone like Charles. Get in touch with Talmix today to get started.
About the AuthorMore Content by Katy Roberts