Most consumers never think about supply chains ... until the day they can't get something they want. If you go to Target (TGT -0.47%) or visit Target.com, and you don't see the item you want to purchase or are told you can't get it delivered fast enough because it's back-ordered, that represents a failure of the retailer's supply chain. And it may lead you to take your business elsewhere.
That's why the company has invested heavily in improving its supply chain and making sure it has top talent in place to ensure that part of its operation runs smoothly. The company is continuing that investment by adding former Nissan senior vice president of manufacturing, supply chain management and purchasing Heath Holtz as senior vice president, field operations. In his new position, Holtz "will oversee Target's supply chain and logistics field network to support Target's more than 1,800 stores," according to a press release.
Today's consumers have high standards when it comes to being able to get whatever they want, whenever they want it, and however they want it. Among other things, that means that if they're patronizing a brick-and-mortar chain, they expect to be able to use its stores as locations to pick up orders placed digitally, and they assume that those stores will be distribution nodes for online orders that they want rapidly delivered. All of this enormously complicates inventory management.
Holtz's job will be to make sure stores balance the needs of in-store customers and the requirements for shipping digital orders. He will also have to work to meet a rising standard for delivery, as consumers come to expect the option for same-day delivery of an ever-larger number of items.
By going outside the retail industry for this hire, the chain may bring some new thinking to its operations. Holtz has extensive experience, and he'll play a key role as it attempts to tackle as-yet-unimagined supply chain challenges.