A supply chain is a network of organisations, individuals, activities, resources, and information involved in the creation, production, distribution, and delivery of goods and services to end consumers. It encompasses all the stages and processes from raw material extraction to the final delivery of a product or service.
Supply chain participants:
- Suppliers: These are the entities that provide raw materials, components, or services needed for the production of goods or services. Suppliers can range from local vendors to global partners.
- Manufacturers/producers: These are the companies or entities responsible for transforming raw materials into finished products.
- Distributors/wholesalers: Distributors buy products from manufacturers in bulk and then sell them in smaller quantities to retailers. They play a crucial role in moving products closer to the end consumer.
- Retailers: These are the businesses that sell products directly to consumers. They can be physical stores, e-commerce platforms, or any other channels.
- Transportation and logistics companies: They handle the movement of goods within the supply chain. This includes transportation, warehousing, and inventory management.
- Customers/consumers: These are the ultimate end users of the products or services.
Recognising and preparing for potential disruptions, such as natural disasters, geopolitical events, or supplier issues, to ensure continuity in the supply chain is a crucial part of supply chain management.