Friday, January 26, 2007

Supply Chain Integration: Crossing the Marketing and Logistics Divide

Supply Chain Integration: Crossing the Marketing and Logistics Divide

Overcoming the Barriers to Improved Internal Collaboration

SCDigest Editorial Staff

The News: Research in the Journal of Business Logistics identifies key barriers to better internal collaboration between marketing and logistics functions

The Impact: The prescriptions to improve collaboration are not new, but a fresh reminder of the opportunities to better integrate these functions internally is worth considering.

The Story: Many people may not know or remember, but to a large extent logistics as a discipline grew out of the field of marketing, where “distribution” was considered a sub-discipline.

In the fall 2006 issue of the Journal of Business Logistics (available to members of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals at its web site: Alexander Ellinger and John Hansen, of The University of Alabama, and Scott Keller, from The University of West Florida, published research based on a number of in-depth interviews they did with both logistics and marketing professionals in business-to-business oriented corporations.

To the surprise of no one with experience in either area, to a large extent logisticians and marketers think the other side is less than cooperative and focused correctly. A summary of the perspectives of each side is included by the authors, and published below:

Source: Journal Of Business Logistics, Vol. 27 - No. 2

Again, it will not come as a surprise that the authors found that “Logistics managers in our sample were frustrated by the relative indifference towards the logistics function and lack of attention to detail of their marketing colleagues. Logistician respondents stated that they frequently find themselves having to react to fulfill marketers’ promises to customers that have been made without input from logistics.”

They quote one respondent as saying, “Marketing people, in my opinion, will not come to logistics people. As a logistics person, the burden of proof is on me to go to them.”

On the other hand, as the authors write, “A common perception among the marketing manager respondents was that logistics is often willing to forsake the customer to save on costs.”

One interviewee on the marketing side commented: “You always get the feeling when you talk to [logistics] people that they’re too busy.” Does that ring home at all?

The authors identified a number of barriers to improved collaboration between sales and marketing. These are summarized below:

Source: Journal Of Business Logistics, Vol. 27 - No. 2

The approaches to overcoming these barriers should be fairly obvious. In the end, it’s all about leadership, communication, and listening first, talking second.

Certainly, many consumer goods companies, such as Campbell’s Soup and a number of others, that have very successfully implemented customer logistics teams that integrate sales, marketing and logistics, understand these opportunities very well.

What’s your take on the integration of marketing and logistics? Is it better than in the past? Why or why not? How do you think it the collaboration can best be improved?

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