Ops gurus reveals how Code keeps barcode scanners in stock, how VARs can excel in crisis
"Dean, is the supply chain fixed yet?"
Of course it’s not. New car lots, for instance, reveal that supplies are still in chains. But John Martin, co-host of BlueStar Inc’s award-wining TEConnect Podcast, poses this obviously clear question to co-host Dean Reverman, starting podcast #104, "The Supply Chain Crisis with Code’s Dave Frick."
The duo asks Frick, Code Corporation’s Vice President of Operations, for more than just a supply chain analysis after two years of pandemic-triggered snarls. Martin and Reverman ask how value-added resellers can turn challenges into wins and how Code—maker of barcode readers and data capture software—adapted to the world-changing semiconductor shortage. After all, Utah-based Code has maintained supplies of its flagship CR2700 and high-volume CR1500 devices while other firms have maintained backorder logs.
"Quite frankly," Frick shares. "We’ve got a lot of customers coming to us that haven’t used us in the past and saying, 'listen, I’ve been waiting on something for a long time; can you help with this solution?’ Code can ship from stock through distribution."
Cascading Calamities Can’t Keep Code Down
Like all operations pros, Frick, whose supply chain career spans nearly 40 years, is also contending with labor shortages, inflationary pressures, and war-triggered shortages. All of which, Frick reports, have mushroomed supply lead times from 22-26 weeks to an eye-popping 60-66 weeks. The cherry on top: a shortage of plastic resin pellets stemming from the 2021 Texas power crisis is hampering device makers.
"However, I think that the supply of materials has actually stabilized," he says optimistically.
Of course, TEConnect explores how Code has maintained inventory amid cascading calamities.
"Now, I'm out to 18 months, so all my sub-tier suppliers and suppliers can see what I’m thinking will happen in the next 18 months," Frick confides.
A soothsayer isn’t part of Code’s operations team. So Code execs have ensured operations personnel have active roles in planning, forecasting, sales support, and execution. Over the past year, Code’s operations have added robust engineering capabilities to source, test, and spec alternative components as needed. The move frees Code’s R&D engineers to continue innovating while operations contends with supply chain woes.
"How does Code see its role in tackling these issues right now?"
A fair question from BlueStar’s Martin. Especially considering backorders are rippling through the entire reseller channel from distributors, like BlueStar, and resellers down to end users. Just as Code’s operations have provided suppliers with an 18-month roadmap, Frick’s team has similarly spoken with more channel partners and end users in greater granularity about product plans. Transparency has created chances for in-stock products to fulfill pressing needs.
"It allows us to be part of the solution rather than being the problem that's holding up their projects," Frick confides.
And therein lies a lesson: strong communication wins the battle.
VARs, You are the Value-Add
The podcast closed by focusing on a crucial part of the equation: how can Value-Add Resellers (VARs) maintain momentum amid supply constraints?
"Leverage this unique environment that we’re in right now by communicating the product information that you do get," Reverman suggests to VARs. Be proactive and willing to help—even if the customer isn’t ready for a full-on sales conversation.
"It never hurts to ask what their problems are," Martin adds. "Because you never know; you might actually have a solution for them right now that wasn’t what you would originally use or normally talk about."
Frick adds that the last two years of "never seen that before" has fostered transparency and creativity.
"We’ve had some conversations with VARs [to help] future-proof some deals that they've been working on," Frick reveals. "And we've encouraged them to carry a bit of inventory to help buffer that a bit."
"We've got a couple of really good resellers out there that have done so, and they've been able to save some deals that otherwise they would have lost if they hadn't taken those extra steps."
The trio then focused on tech support departments being strategic advantages because these inventive resources help save deals and turn overlooked tech into your next sale. Bottom line: time-pressed customers won’t pursue new tech if they can deftly incorporate tried-and-true into products or projects.
"Rather than going out and buying new tech," Frick confides, "They're [customers] reaching out to our resources and saying, 'hey can we use our existing tech to solve these problems?’"
"I think tech support right now is probably one of the most valuable resources a company can have in this market," Frick adds.
If VARs serve as insightful and helpful resources amid constrained supplies and ever-lengthening lead times, customers will return when the fields are greener.
View the full podcast; the audio-only version is available on all the major podcast platforms.
About TECconnect Podcast
Industry veterans, John Martin and Dean Reverman explore emerging technology with the professionals "making it happen" from engineering, design, and operations, up to sales. Backed by BlueStar Inc., a global technology supplier, this award-winning podcast caters to value-added resellers (known as VARs) and other tech sales professionals within the IT reseller channel. If you’re in tech sales, product management, or sales management, the duo’s podcast should be required viewing (subscribe to their YouTube channel and BlueStar’s channel here).