Feb 14, 2015: It’s Valentine’s Day!
The doorbell rings and Martha rushes to open the door with eager anticipation. She is awaiting the bunch of beautiful, sweet-smelling, red roses that her husband surprises her with, at every Valentine’s Day. When she opened the door, however, her joy quickly turns to disappointment. A delivery boy stands outside, with a bouquet that holds a dozen wistful looking red roses that are nearing their end. Martha is unhappy and her husband is indignant with the florist.
Supply chain companies across the world work relentlessly hard in order to avoid Martha’s episode. A poorly orchestrated supply chain causes colossal financial losses, severe dips in customer happiness and tarnishes brand reputation in the matter of just a few minutes.
Just like every other year since the 1800s, when Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated, it will be honoured with gusto in 2015. We expect to see candy hearts, sparkling wine, chocolate and roses sprawled on every street corner and in every house. People around the world have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and cold hard cash into planning the perfect Valentine’s Day for their loved ones.
However, here’s food for thought: Though you may have spent countless hours contemplating the perfect gift, you may not have given much thought to the crucial role that the transportation industry plays in the perfect execution of Valentine’s Day. The gorgeous bouquet of roses that Martha was expecting may just be a simple gift, and you may think, how hard can it even be to mess that up? But here’s the catch: The undercurrent of the global network of supply chains is far from simple –infact, it is a complex chain of interdependent processes comprising of dozens of moving parts, thousands of kilometres in distance, and sometimes even multiple continents – all orchestrated in perfect harmony to ensure that you get your gift on time and in superior condition.
Flowers are one of the most gifted items for Valentine's Day. According to data, over 50 million roses are given for Valentine’s Day each year worldwide. With such heavy demand, check out who supplies this monumental number of flowers, and more importantly, what happens after these flowers are cut, primed and made ready for delivery? In US alone, around 90 percent of all fresh cut flowers purchased for Valentine’s Day are imported from Latin American countries. These flowers must travel vast distances to make it to your local florist. And, shockingly, retailers have only approximate 10 days of shelf life to get the freshly harvested flowers to the customer. A day lost in the supply chain is 10% lost in shelf life, which can cost the wholesaler major financial losses and not to mention, immense customer dissatisfaction.
Therefore, the goal of retailers around the world is to ensure that the flowers are delivered to the customers in pristine condition. Flowers are highly perishable and must be transported quickly. Shipment and logistics companies must take drastic steps to minimize delays that can alter the shelf life and freshness of the flowers. What steps are supply chain management companies undertaking behind-the-scenes to ensure that on Valentine ’s Day this year, Martha gets her bright and shining red roses?
1.) The cold-chain logistics of transporting short shelf life products such as flowers from farm to a happy customer is not easy. The first and most crucial step is to ensure that there is ample advanced planning, coordination and expertise. Every individual involved should have appropriate knowledge and clear awareness of the time-sensitive nature of flowers, in order to ensure they are preserved as is, from the time of harvest till they reach the lucky recipient.
2.) A fleet of temperature controlled vehicles is a crucial factor in minimizing delays and ensuring freshness. This includes humidity-controlled shipping containers and refrigerated cooling facilities throughout the perfectly orchestrated temperature controlled supply chain network.
3.) Shipping and logistics companies must consider increasing workforce in order to move cargo and deliveries faster. Adding extra flights and upgrades to aircrafts are also extremely vital in increasing the capacity of the cargo loads that are brought into the country.
4.) Planners for logistics companies should work in close conjunction with customers and government inspectors so that the entire supply chain journey - from the farms in South America, through customs, to the importer in the customer’s country - can be completed as quickly as possible.
Are you among the 62% of adults who say they celebrate Valentine’s Day?
We invite you to download the mindmap on Supply Chain Orchestration to appreciate the strategic organization, intricate planning and perfect orchestration that goes into ensuring that you receive the message of love from your loved one whether it is in the form of sparkling wine, chocolate, or a dozen fluttering red roses, that have travelled halfway across the world, to make your Valentine’s Day 2015 worth remembering.