Information is a key component to developing and maintaining an effective and profitable supply chain. The old saying “bad information in equal bad information out” has lead to the demise of profitability. In its information system, Wal-mart have been leading the charge for what a successful information system strategy looks like and how it can change a company from being good to great.
Information Management System
Wal-mart point of sale (POS) network use an information system software called Retail link. Retail link is an interlinking network that enables the companies and its suppliers to collaborate effectively regardless of boundaries and borders. The system design allow suppliers to manage their inventory at Wal-mart by being able to have real-time data without having to going to other companies or data warehouses to get this information. The POS is integrated into every aspect of the supply chain. The company uses a single barcode system, which feed into their network seamlessly. The strategy for their IMS is to have one centralized system that uses common platforms among its suppliers.
The competitive advantage gained by Wal-mart centers around its information. Information that can be viewed as a product and Wal-mart as the manufacturer, the supply chain can function better between the suppliers when supplier are able to target products that consumers want rather than filling just shelves therefore reducing inventory. Companies are able to take this information and strategically improve its operating procedure, streamline production and anticipate needs in the location to insure they are competitive and cost effective. Another advantage Wal-mart has is the ability to change it supply chain from a push method to a pull method, while still satisfying the needs of their customers by aggregating the vast amount of information.
Supply Chain Partners
The supply chain sharing information is formatted in a way that the entire supply chain has the same data in real time as transactions happen at the POS. The IMS and RFID combine to allow Wal-mart warehousing and transportation to synchronize and effectively move products throughout the chain by using cross docking and using Wal-mart owned satellite network. The satellite network transmits POS data, coordinate transportation and let chain suppliers at cost, advertise their products at store locations on closed circuit stations. The data shared between all facets of the supply chain is definitely an advantageous method of using technology to communicate. Suppliers are able to determine production and inventory amounts; they can collaborate with each other in R&D opportunities, best practices and can be a way of reducing transportation cost. Suppliers have enough information to adjust shipping loads, for example if two companies have partial loads, they are able to sync up and combine delivery by using the cross docking method. This is financially sound and can benefit both...