Will buying local really save the world? Well, perhaps “saving the world” is a bit dramatic, but buying locally might be a wise move once you consider all of the benefits of local sourcing compared to the risks of global sourcing. A couple of weeks ago, as I discussed techniques for strategic planning during these uncertain times, I suggested that you might want to consider adopting local supply chain solutions.
There are tremendous benefits to buying locally. On the surface, you might be able to save a few cents in the short run by pursuing global sourcing. Around the world, a lack of regulation and corporate or government business models that rely upon mass production contribute to the exploitation of people, resources and the environment. These unethical and unsustainable practices may save you a few cents per item right now, but what are the costs to your company that lie below the surface in the long run?
Global sourcing involves obtaining goods a vast distance away with many variables that are beyond your control, not to mention the threat of supply chain disruption from potential trade wars or embargoes. Global sourcing increases the risk of a supply shortage, potentially causing irreparable harm to your company. Risk mitigation is a powerful element in a decision to choose local sources.
The most obvious key advantages to local sourcing have to do with time. A shorter transportation distance saves money, increases cash flow, adds flexibility, reduces logistical complexity, eliminates middle men, and decreases risks. You don’t need statistics to intuitively know that as travel time and distance grow, the supply chain efficiency drops.
Money tied up in inventory and tied up in the supply chain logistics is money that is not working to create a return on that investment. Time is money and when more money is tied up in the operating cycle, the lower the return on investment. Interim warehouses and material handling are wasted energy and cost which create additional chances for spoilage, breakage, and theft. As additional time spent in the delivery process adds up, additional variances and mishaps can occur.
A quick delivery allows for additional flexibility to adjust orders and less chance for disruption. As companies realize the benefits of increased throughput and Just in Time inventory management, local sources become even more advantageous. Shorter lead times can provide opportunities to eliminate bottlenecks and control the operational processes with minimal waste of time and materials. With increased control over operational processes, customer satisfaction is also enhanced with orders delivered to customers on a timely basis.
There are tremendous communications benefits to buying locally. When your source is local, you are a huge part of the local dynamics so you are well aware of the challenges, opportunities, customs and values of the community at all times. Simply having discussions in the same time zone can be beneficial, and a common language certainly reduces errors that are lost in translation. The ability to meet face to face with a supplier to look them in the eye or stop by a production facility for an inspection can’t be undervalued. Trust is enhanced with increased transparency and accountability.
Buying local creates more sustainability than global options. Often times when we think about sustainability, we think of environmental issues. Although saving the environment is a key component, sustainability also encompasses making anything last indefinitely or at least far into the future. Considering environmental issues, local sourcing reduces emissions, increases bio-diversity and saves energy use. Additionally, local sourcing increases community sustainability as well as talent sustainability by increasing good paying jobs in the local community beyond just the jobs in your company. Buying local enhances community health by generating more entrepreneurial opportunities within the community.
In the March-April 2020 Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Becoming A Better Corporate Citizen”, authors Indra K. Nooyi and Vijay Govindarajan describe PepsiCo’s radical transformation away from the single-minded focus upon quarterly earnings per share to adopt a long term corporate strategy that encompasses all stakeholders of corporation activities and not just the shareholders. Indra Nooyi introduced the concept called Performance with Purpose as a way for the company to refocus away from myopic short-term profit objectives and instead look toward long-term sustainability of benefits created by the company.
Nooyi’s vision was to assure the long-term viability of the company, and in order to move toward that vision, the entire corporate culture needed to be changed. The new corporate strategy was based upon enhancing sustainability in four areas: human sustainability, environmental sustainability, talent sustainability and of course, financial sustainability. Financial sustainability involved a shift away from a short-term financial focus toward a long-term time horizon. The effort to enhance human sustainability involved providing healthier options to the company’s customers. The effort to enhance environmental sustainability involved reducing the company’s carbon footprint and plastic waste as well as the conservation of water. The effort to enhance talent sustainability involved a focus upon enhancing the employee’s lives by paying living wages, and supporting the families as well as the communities that the company served.
American made products are just the baseline for the increased benefits of buying local. As we purchase closer to home, the benefits increase. Pumping money into your local economy boosts your own company along with the whole community like a rising tide. Community pride develops as local businesses support each other. Well paid local jobs help to generate local tax dollars which support local programs. Not enough can be said about making your own home a better place by purchasing from other businesses in your community as opposed to across the nation.
Local sourcing champions relationships. Mutual trust develops within a community, and having this type of trust can be a powerful tool for growth and prosperity. A non-written partnership will develop between businesses that are held together by a shared community bond. Accountability and transparency can’t be avoided when you do business where you live. These factors create a common goal of the local community with each member in the supply chain helping each other. Diverse industries can thrive as communities create self-sustaining and sustainable eco-systems.
If you own a small business and are well aware of the benefits to buying locally, I would love to hear your story. My company’s mission is to promote Flow in the lives of small business owners, and I believe buying locally can attribute to achieving Flow. Please reach out to me in LinkedIn or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in developing more Flow for your business and your life.