Aligning Product Strategy to Supply Chain Practices

Read this article. The authors study whether organizational products are aligned with optimal supply chain types. Besides the product, what other aspects must be analyzed when selecting a specific type of supply chain?

Research method and design

A qualitative case study research method was adopted for the study. This research method is similar to that adopted by Khan and Creazza to explore the interface between product design and the supply chain. A qualitative research method was deemed appropriate as it is concerned with the participant's spoken word, pertaining to their experience or perception. Data were collected by means of face-to-face interviews with the respondents. Interviews lasted between one and a half to two hours. Respondents were visited at their business premises, which made it possible for the researcher to see their products and production points. As they did not have to take time off work, respondents were cooperative. Nine small, craft production businesses were targeted. This is similar to other studies conducted by Hogarth-Scott et al. who interviewed 18 businesses and Mosey who interviewed five businesses. Qualitative study allows one to explore the topic at hand and is appropriate when there is lack of data on the topic, as is the case with the craft industry.

The study targeted different craft businesses within the industry, including ceramics, homeware, décor, beadwork, fashion, jewellery, recycled materials and clay. A convenience sampling methodology was adopted for the study because there is still no accessible and established database of craft businesses in South Africa. Municipalities in Gauteng have been in the process of creating such a database but this has yet to be finalised. Respondents were selected from the Gauteng Economic Development Agency database of crafters that were selected to take part in their exhibition which was hosted in Gauteng. Only those operating in the Johannesburg area were targeted because of time constraints relating to travel and associated costs that would have arisen should interviews have been conducted in Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth or other areas. Field notes were taken during the interviews with nine owner-managers and it was ensured that respondents provided information on each of the elements of a marketing strategy. This was achieved by transcribing from field notes which were typed into a Word document. As the questionnaire was designed to cover various sub-topics under investigation, data were analysed for each of the stated topics using content analysis.