How ISHO Has Maneuvered the Post-Pandemic Evolution of Their Supply Chain Networks

Publish: 8:04 PM, October 24, 2021 | Update: 8:04:PM, October 24, 2021

The global Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and flaws in the supply chains and production strategies of manufacturing companies the world over. Like the rest of the world, manufacturers throughout Bangladesh have also faced pressure to change how they think about planning their supply networks.

According to Saad Aadnan Kabir, Head of Supply Chain Management at ISHO, the pressure to use manufacturing capacity and available capital to keep up efficient operations has required him to make ISHO’s supply chains more resilient. Mr. Kabir says that the company has managed to handle this period of change through stringent planning while keeping in mind their prioritization of quality materials. As a disruptive new-age furniture brand appealing to modern tastes, ISHO’s innovative global designs demand that Mr. Kabir stays on top of his game, especially in order to send the brand on its way to acquire status in international markets.

As the country’s number one e-commerce furniture brand in sales, ISHO was able to achieve their target during the pandemic. However, the pandemic can wreak havoc on even the most prominent businesses, says Mr. Kabir. A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the scarcity of materials and increased prices have caused many connections to falter. To make matters worse, international logistics have been complicated by transport container unavailability and freight logjams.

All of this initially caused difficulties for ISHO, a brand focused on using the highest quality, eco-friendly sources. Furthermore, Mr. Kabir says, the high product variability in the retail and e-commerce industry makes keeping up with demand challenging. Moreover, in the furniture supply chain, products designs are innovated regularly to be relevant to the competition, meaning product life cycles are getting shorter; competition is becoming time-sensitive; and competitive advantages create faster time-to-market and turnaround times. The demand can quickly shift from the sales trend, and consequently, one cannot always rely on a stable supply chain. Accordingly, demand forecasting has been challenging during the pandemic, especially in furniture manufacturing companies like ISHO which prioritize innovative designs and quality products.

However, this has also led to enlightening revelations, says Mr. Kabir. According to him, in these turbulent times, direct competition between brands is no longer relevant. The only competition that remains is between the companies’ supply chains. This is why supply chain functions must ensure the right product at the right time, price, place, and quantity to meet a business’s demands. Supply chain professionals have to take the responsibility of accumulating all relevant materials in-house to fulfill the customer demand. Smart supply chains are supporting faster time to market and, more importantly, faster time to volume.

It is also important, says Mr. Kabir, to understand that logistics and SCM are not the same; one is part of another. Logistics deals with transportation, warehousing and material movement which constitutes part of the supply chain process. Previously, all these relevant departments worked separately, but in modern times, demand planning, procurement, production, logistics and other relevant business functions have come under the remit of Supply Chain, adding more value to it. This integrated supply chain is more data-centric and helps businesses visualize the bottlenecks of business processes with proper logic and analysis.
According to Mr. Kabir, in Bangladesh, most local organizations are yet to realize the benefits of adopting the end-to-end supply chain concept and still refer to procurement, logistics, and commercial as Supply Chain departments. This is where the misconception arises. In modern times, Mr. Kabir reiterates, the concept of supply chain management deals with the entire business process. Being at the center of an organization, it has correspondence with each of its departments. A supply chain leader must accurately prepare and execute business needs, which means looking after sales demand, planning, procurement from local and international sources, production, and logistics.

Mr. Kabir says that, after acquiring their PGD or CSCP, an aspiring supply chain professional will be successful only when they understand that supply chain management is at the center of any manufacturing company. Accurately preparing and executing business needs, from an SCM viewpoint, means looking after a number of business aspects: sales demand, planning, procurement from local and international sources, production, and logistics. SCM allows us to approach and understand business holistically. That’s why, young graduates with skills in marketing and brand management might find it easier to succeed in this field, and even more so if they have professional certifications like PMP, Lean Six Sigma, CMA. Either way, SCM is always an exciting learning experience filled with surprises and eureka! moments.

While Mr. Kabir says that the future of supply chain management in Bangladesh is bright, a few challenges must be addressed first. Most local conglomerates are yet to develop modern supply chain practices and data-centric decision-making. Business owners and leaders must develop the mentality to grow more, and to do that, executing an integrated, automated, and analytics-driven supply chain is a must. Local brands need to be educated on modern supply chain practices undertaken by established global brands to adapt to ever-changing economic dynamics. Furthermore, in Bangladesh, the importance of supply chain education has only begun. Universities in Bangladesh have begun adopting supply chain majors only in the last five years. The important thing now is to ensure continuous knowledge gathering, sharing, and execution of sustainable and eco-friendly practices to minimize cost and maximize profitability.