The Backorder: May 8, 2024

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In this week’s edition of The Backorder:

  • Why nearly 50,000 US retail stores may close in the next 5 years
  • An interview with Two Dudes Co-Founder Michael McRae
  • 5 stress-relieving tips for managing stakeholder expectations
  • Job opportunities from Michael Kors, Morrisons, and more

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In supply chain headlines

  • 45,000+ US retail stores may close in the next 5 years. A new report forecasted by UBS analysts suggests the total number of retail stores in the U.S. will fall from 958k to 913k if ecommerce penetration continues to rise.
  • NAPD Chairman calls for ‘reuse first’ policy for pallets. Paul Tait, Chairman of the National Association of Pallet Distributors, says reusing pallets is an essential step in reducing the carbon impact of supply chains as new environmental reporting legislation is introduced in the UK and EU.
  • Apple reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. Collaborative efforts with suppliers have helped the tech giant achieve more than 2B kWh of electricity savings and avoid nearly 1.7m metric tonnes of carbon emissions, writes Neil Perry.

The Kiwi brand sparking a men’s health revolution – Meet Michael McRae

Michael McRae

We caught up with Michael McRae, Co-Founder and Dude Two at Two Dudes, New Zealand’s fastest-growing men’s bathroom brand. Two Dudes don’t just sell award-winning grooming products – they’re on a mission on to save men’s health. We asked Michael for the inside scoop:

In your own words, please explain the Two Dudes mission.

“We’re trying to change men’s health, one bathroom at a time. That embodies everything we do: from the quality of the products to our men’s health mission and trying to create a community of guys. Your physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. We want dudes to ‘look good, feel good, and do good’. When you’re looking after yourself physically, you’re feeling better mentally. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you have the ability to go out and help others.”

Succeeding in a niche market is never easy. What were the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?

“Our biggest challenges are ones we are still trying to figure out and do right. The first is that the category is feminine. The second is men not knowing what [products] to use – we just made really simple products; you’ll never see us release a serum with snail mucus from Austria. The third barrier is how to use it. We make everything simple to understand: This is why it’s good for you and that’s that. It’s two steps, two minutes, twice a day. [You can] do it when you’re brushing your teeth.”

What have you found particularly challenging when it comes to managing growth and cash flow?

Supply and demand forecasting is a real pain point. You’re trying to forecast demand at different parts of the year – but with all the lead times of the products, you’re limited by your cash flow. Selling out of products is glorified to be seen as good, but you’re just leaving customers unhappy and money on the table, right? The operational efficiencies are sometimes just as valuable as the growth part for bringing in revenue.”

Are there any key learnings you could share from your experience growing Two Dudes?

“Ask people who are way smarter than you for advice. Take calculated risks… but if you don’t actually think about it before you do it, you’re gonna get yourself in a world of pain. [And] make sure you’re having fun. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, it’s going to get pretty lonely, and you should probably just pull the pin. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy life, make money, and make a difference.”

Are there any podcasts you can recommend for our readers?

“Brianne West started a shampoo bar company called Ethique, and she’s got a real cool [podcast] called Business, but Better. She talks you through the basics of how to get a business up and running from New Zealand and getting it ready for export. And another I quite like is Simon Pound; [he] does one called Business is Boring [where] he interviews New Zealand companies – sometimes ones no one’s heard of – that are doing well.”

5 stress-relieving tips for managing stakeholder expectations


The so-called ‘soft skills’ are what set great supply chain professionals apart. Try these five methods for managing stakeholder expectations:

1. No surprises. By the time you inform stakeholders personally of a situation, they should already know the substance of what you’re telling them. Expecting shipping delays? Provide regular updates stating your concerns. This way, when the situation is confirmed, no one’s surprised.

2. Broadcast information. Use the Kanban concept to set up ‘information radiators’ – business intelligence dashboards, noticeboards, analytics software – that make important data accessible to the whole team. These will help you passively inform your stakeholders on what they need to know.

3. Over-communicate. Information is everywhere. When something really matters, achieve cut-through by remembering the old adage: “Tell them before you tell them. Tell them. Then tell them you’ve told them.”

4. Rapport matters. Who would you rather inform about an unfortunate price rise: the customer you take out for coffee once a quarter, or the one you only speak to when there’s a problem? Keep rapport lines open to establish better trust with your stakeholders.

5. Get good at saying ‘no’. One of the most powerful ways of building trust with stakeholders is to establish a track record of saying, ‘No, unfortunately I can’t do that – for these reasons.’ It’ll make all your other communication much more credible.

On the lighter side…

Who’s hiring?

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Oliver Munro - Unleashed Software
Oliver Munro

Article by Oliver Munro in collaboration with our team of specialists. Oliver's background is in inventory management and content marketing. He's visited over 50 countries, lived aboard a circus ship, and once completed a Sudoku in under 3 minutes (allegedly).

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