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Paper info: Customer-driven supply chain improvement: Evidence from Italian companies


Customer-driven supply chain improvement: Evidence from Italian companies


Valeria Belvedere and
Annalisa Tunisini
Catholic University
Annalisa Tunisini

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 34th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2018.


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This paper aims at understanding whether and to what extent companies are facing the challenge of improving their supply chains in order to deliver customer value, according to a customer-driven approach. Improvement initiatives in the field of operations and supply chain management frequently fail due to the poor overall alignment between actual customers’ value drivers and the operating conditions of supply chain processes, whose managerial and technological readiness is not always consistent with market challenges. In this paper we discuss the findings of an empirical investigation conducted among Italian companies or Italian subsidiaries of MNCs, in a two-step research, consisting first of 10 in-depth interviews and then of a survey. According to our study, Italian companies seem to be pressured by the need of revising their supply chains in order to cope with specific customers’ needs and market trends, in particular those related to the prompt availability of the product in different (but coordinated) distribution channels, with the correct assortment and quantities. This is resulting in the launch of projects related to Demand Forecasting and to Omnichannel strategy adoption. However, in most cases it seems that the managerial and technological readiness of companies following this path is not in line with the relevance of the challenges they are coping with. Another relevant area of improvement consists in the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. In this case the major risk undermining project’s success consists of the poor ability of companies to correctly understand how the operational improvements obtained through such initiatives can be leveraged to deliver customer value.