Inbound Logistics (Magazine) Skips Discussion of TMS for Inbound Logistics

Inbound Logistics magazine recently published an article by Justine Brown entitled, “The Beauty of an Optimized Supply Chain”, wherein she highlighted the specific pain points of the cosmetics and skin care industry, and the way this industry is leveraging technology to solve the challenges it faces. Interesting piece, but we couldn’t help noticing Inbound Logistics magazine neglected to examine the benefits of using TMS for… well, inbound logistics.

In her interesting article, Brown notes that cosmetics, a subset of women’s fashion, is a highly competitive business with a quickly evolving environment. She identifies the use of TMS software for outbound logistics by cosmetics manufacturers as crucial to smoothing on-time delivery of cosmetics products to customers anxious to take delivery of products before notoriously fickle fashion trends render them obsolete.

By way of disclosure, it should be mentioned that UltraShipTMS – parent company of the Supply Chain Collaborator blog – knows a thing or three about the transportation needs of cosmetics manufacturers. Ultra counts a number of leading, multi-billion-dollar, global beauty products manufacturers as long-time clients. (For example: see Inbound Logistics’ article on Ultra and L’Oreal in this 2010 back issue.)

Editorial staff here at the Supply Chain Collaborator blog discussed Brown’s recent piece and arrived at a consensus view that the real story had been somehow missed by the article. And given the namesake of the magazine in which it was published, the oversight seemed even more remarkable.

It is widely accepted that managing inbound logistics is significantly more complex and challenging than outbound logistics. After all, typically, outbound shipping originates from a handful of production facilities and/or DCs and makes numerous, regularly scheduled stops to deliver product. Compare this to timing the inbound delivery of hundreds to thousands of different raw materials, originating from dozens to hundreds of suppliers located at far-flung global locations.  It is plain to see, this is a much more complex puzzle to solve. Especially with regard to beauty supplies manufacturing, which is known for using some pretty exotic raw materials sourced from unlikely locales. Awapuhi from Hawaiian mountainsides, Jojoba from Sonoran deserts, and other botanicals, fragrances, emollients, emulsifiers and pigments from all over the globe are routinely used in producing modern cosmetics. Getting all these materials delivered in enough time to meet purchase orders is difficult enough before factoring in the limitations dictated by shifting fashion trends.

Using a TMS and powerful optimization software together is truly the best bet for any organization with complicated inbound logistics. Even for industries with less mercurial shifts in demand among product lines, the just-in-time sourcing strategies enjoying widespread adoption cannot be fully realized without the kind of visibility, flexibility and adaptability that a best in class TMS and optimizer brings to the transportation segment of the supply chain.

We thought Justine Brown’s article made some valid points about the value of TMS and optimization technology. But to overlook the role of such technologies in effectively managing Inbound Logistics seemed like a glaring omission given the magazine she writes for.



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