Everyone is busy this time of year, but let me tell you – you haven’t seen anything until you’ve survived a year working in supply chain at the North Pole.
It takes incredible levels of logistical and organizational strategy to deliver presents to children all over the world on Christmas Eve… every year… without fail. As you can imagine, I get a lot of requests for interviews, and most of what we do up here has to remain secret. That said, I made a deal with the Art of Procurement team. I told them that if they were good this year, REALLY good, I would give you all a peek behind the curtain.
There was that grammatical error Kelly missed back in the summer – split infinitive, really? – and Philip has been a little distracted with the World Cup going on (then again, so have I), but all in all, they’ve held up their end of the bargain – and so will I.
Here are some of the operational details you’ve always wanted to know about MY global supply chain.
The Inner Workings of Santa’s Workshop
Clearly, I didn’t select the North Pole as my central distribution hub because it was conveniently located. Sometimes privacy is more important than efficiency. Luckily for us, what we sacrifice in proximity, we make up for in expanse – and land is cheap up here, so we can afford plenty of it.
My workshop is a bustling place 51 weeks a year. My elves produce millions of units annually. They are skilled workers who are able to create a wide range of toys, from classic wooden trains to the most advanced electronic gadgets. We had to hire more elves a couple of decades ago, in keeping with modern labor practices. They’ve talked about unionizing a couple of times, but I do my best to be reasonable in response to their demands. The hot chocolate stations were a popular addition, as was our switch to the three days on, four days off 12-hour shift schedule.
I also promote from within, believing that it is very important for every elf in my employment to be rewarded for embracing our philosophy and working hard. We celebrate retirements and promotions in the first week of January, and the new class of category directors is truly impressive.
North Pole Strategic Distribution
Once the toys are made, they are carefully inspected to ensure that they meet my uniquely high quality standards. Reverse logistics are hard enough for regular supply chains – you can hardly imagine the cost to get things back up to the North Pole for repair and/or replacement.
We load everything into the sleigh in the proper order so I can quickly pull out each load of gifts as I reach the delivery address. A few years ago, we upgraded our routing system. With the help of advanced analytics, I managed to shave 10 percent off my total route time. Don’t tell Mrs Claus that though… she thinks we only sped up by 5 percent. I’m getting on in years and give myself that additional time to actually sit down to enjoy some of the milk and cookies.
Thanks to my team of reindeer, the original carbon-free vehicles, my ‘final mile’ is blazing fast. They make it possible for me to cover vast distances and reach millions of homes in a single night.
On a Mission to 10X the Miracle of Christmas
I’m a firm believer in the customer experience, even though the world’s children are some of the toughest customers out there. I don’t just want the Christmas experience to be acceptable… I want it to be magical.
B2C brands may have their work cut out for them maintaining customer loyalty, but I’m working to hold them from one generation to the next. That challenge gets harder every year. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I mention this to procurement, but today’s eCommerce companies are making it harder for all of us to surprise and delight our target markets.
Running a supply chain on this scale is no easy feat. I carefully manage my inventory to ensure that I have enough toys for all of the children on my list, and I doggedly face the logistical challenges of transporting presents across the globe, even in Ukraine… a real challenge this year, but I will not let those boys and girls down.
My team and I have mastered these challenges because we love our work. Our passion and dedication make it possible to deliver presents to children on time, every year with world leading organization and logistics. We may have the market cornered on toys, but don’t think I can’t get better. The team up here is always watching, listening, and learning – right alongside all of you.
Merry Christmas to everyone!