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Clarkston Featured on Inbound Logistics

Durham, NC | August 17, 2020

Clarkston Consulting was quoted on shaking up subscription services and supply chains on Inbound Logistics. An excerpt from the article is included below:

During the lockdown, some subscription services unboxed a demand surge while others were forced to close the flaps. Here’s how successful services deliver the goods.

In January 2020, Pipsticks, which offers a monthly sticker subscription, moved much of its final production and kit assembly from California to an area of China that wasn’t heavily affected by COVID-19.

The timing proved fortunate. Several of Pipsticks’ domestic employees were at high risk for the virus due to other health issues and age, and had to stop working as the pandemic emerged in the United States, says Nathan Vazquez, co-founder and chief executive officer with the company, which is based in San Luis Obispo.

Now, because products arrive in “a ready-to-ship state,” he says, Pipsticks has been able to meet most delivery deadlines even as subscription sales jumped, and with a skeleton warehouse crew.

Building Supply Chain Redundancy

The pandemic has highlighted the value of supply chain safety planning and redundancy. Rise Gardens uses many of the same suppliers as companies in the medical device industry, which were given priority early in the pandemic.

The experience hammered home “the importance of redundancies on the supply chain,” Adams says. He and his team identified the critical components that become harder to source when a supply chain disruption occurs, and dramatically increased inventory of those products.

Rise Gardens has also increased its safety inventory. “It became clear that, as a startup, this safety inventory would be make-or-break in key moments, and especially in moments of high growth,” Adams says.

Some companies launched new subscription models as part of their attempts to survive COVID-19 and eliminate retailers’ margins. The transitions can work, but most also introduce challenges.

The companies have to establish new operating models and work through new supply chain obstacles, such as learning to pick and pack individual orders, says Kim Kuesel, an associate partner with Clarkston Consulting.

They also need to collaborate and share data with supply chain partners. “Understand what levers they can pull and how they can help you succeed in a crisis,” Kuesel says. A strong relationship with a supplier may mean they’re more inclined to work with you during a crisis.

Read the full article highlighting diversity and inclusion here.