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December 1, 2023

Wolverine Worldwide's Supply Chain Transformation

In a recent conversation with Bishu Jayaram, Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing at Wolverine Worldwide, we gained valuable insights into the company's supply chain transformation journey. From overcoming challenges during periods of disruption to investing in advanced technology and streamlining operations, Wolverine Worldwide has prioritized resilience and operational efficiency. Here are the top 5 takeaways from the session, shedding light on the company's forward-looking strategy and its focus on optimizing the balance between cost and value.

1. Flexibility and Adaptability Are Key:

Wolverine Worldwide experienced supply chain congestion, port issues, and inflation during the disruptive periods, causing chaos within the industry. However, the company recognized that flexibility is key to mitigating risks. By adapting to changing order volumes, run lengths, and consumer demands, Wolverine Worldwide improved its ability to navigate through disruptions successfully. This emphasis on flexibility enabled the company to optimize its supply chain and enhance operational efficiency.

2. Transparency Drives Collaboration and Problem-Solving:

Wolverine Worldwide implemented a culture of transparency and collaboration throughout its organization. Regular meetings were held, involving stakeholders from different departments, including the CEO, brand presidents, and supply chain leadership. This transparent approach facilitated the identification and resolution of issues in real-time. By fostering open communication, the company created a platform where everyone had a role and contributed to the organization's success.

3. Cost Optimization through Strategic Sourcing:

The company undertook a strategic sourcing exercise, focusing on cost savings and optimization. By tearing down thousands of shoe samples and analyzing components and materials, Wolverine Worldwide identified areas for improvement. Frameworks were established to standardize product specifications and optimize material usage. The company also leveraged negotiations with suppliers, inviting them to bid for business and driving significant cost savings. This strategic approach to sourcing not only resulted in substantial cost reductions but also improved efficiency throughout the supply chain.

4. Digitization and Integration for End-to-End Planning:

Wolverine Worldwide recognized the need for digitization and integration across its supply chain functions. The company invested in a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system, digitizing materials and streamlining bill of materials. This digital transformation allowed real-time costing and provided designers with cost insights during the product development stage. Furthermore, the company aimed to integrate financial planning, merchandising, and inventory plans, forming an end-to-end planning team to improve visibility and decision-making across the organization.

5. Collaboration with Stakeholders and Future Focus:

The success of Wolverine Worldwide's supply chain transformation relied on collaboration with stakeholders, including brand teams, designers, and suppliers. By involving them in decision-making processes and forming steering committees, the company ensured buy-in and alignment with its strategic goals. Looking ahead, Wolverine Worldwide plans to continue its journey of digitization, exploring AI and digital sampling while enhancing visibility of real-time inventory. The company aims to strengthen planning capabilities and become more resilient against future disruptions.

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