Critical 13 Supply Chain Terminologies to Know

Over 100 Udemy Courses: Supply Chain

Introduction: Supply chain terminologies

Are you aware of the following supply chain terminologies? Supply chain management plays a critical role in the success of organizations today. As supply chains become increasingly complex, it is essential to grasp the terms, definitions, and concepts associated with supply chains. In this post, we will explore the fundamental concepts of supply chain management, providing valuable insights for businesses. Whether you are an established organization or embarking on a digital transformation journey, understanding these concepts is crucial to optimize your supply chain operations.

Supply chain terminologies: Section 1: Procurement

Procurement is a vital aspect of supply chain management that involves the acquisition of raw materials and other necessary items to run an organization. There are two primary types of procurement: direct and indirect. Direct procurement refers to the acquisition of raw materials or semi-finished goods directly involved in the production process. On the other hand, indirect procurement involves acquiring items like office supplies necessary for the smooth functioning of the business.

Section 2: Supplier Management

Supplier management is crucial for organizations dealing with complex supply chains. It involves understanding and effectively managing the relationships with various vendors and suppliers. This includes identifying suppliers for different raw materials or components, evaluating their quality and cost, and having backup suppliers in case of disruptions or shortages. Proactive risk mitigation is essential to ensure a steady supply chain.

Lets’ look at other supply chain management terminologies

Section 3 : Vendor-Managed Inventory (VMI):

Vendor-Managed Inventory (VMI) is a supply chain management concept where the supplier takes responsibility for monitoring and managing inventory levels at the customer’s location. In a traditional inventory management setup, the customer determines when to order and how much to order from the supplier.


However, with VMI, the supplier is empowered to make those decisions based on agreed-upon inventory levels and demand patterns. With VMI, the supplier has access to real-time data on the customer’s inventory levels, sales, and demand patterns. This allows the supplier to proactively manage the inventory replenishment process. The supplier can automatically trigger shipments when inventory levels reach a certain threshold or when demand patterns indicate the need for replenishment.

VMI offers several benefits.

Firstly, it improves coordination between the supplier and the customer, as both parties have access to the same inventory data. This enables better demand forecasting and planning, resulting in reduced stockouts and improved product availability.

Secondly, VMI can lead to reduced inventory holding costs for the customer. Since the supplier manages the inventory levels, the customer can minimize the need for safety stock and excess inventory. This can result in cost savings and improved cash flow.

Finally, VMI improves supply chain efficiency. By reducing stockouts and streamlining the inventory replenishment process, VMI helps optimize the overall supply chain operations, leading to better customer service and lower costs.

Section 4: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) enables seamless communication between organizations, vendors, suppliers, and customers. Why EDI in our supply chain management terminologies list? This electronic method streamlines order placements, improves efficiency, and enhances collaboration across the supply chain. EDI tools and systems are commonly used to manage this critical aspect of supply chain communication.

Section 5: Cross-Docking:

Cross-docking is a logistics strategy that involves transferring goods directly from inbound transportation (such as trucks or containers) to outbound transportation, without storing them in a warehouse or distribution center. In other words, it involves unloading products from one transport vehicle and loading them onto another for immediate shipment to the final destination.

The primary goal of cross-docking is to streamline the order fulfillment process and reduce the time products spend in inventory. By eliminating the storage and warehousing step, cross-docking can significantly speed up the delivery of goods to customers.


Cross-docking is most effective when the timing of inbound shipments matches the demand for outbound shipments. This requires close coordination between suppliers, carriers, and retailers.

The process involves sorting, consolidating, and sometimes even packaging or labeling products during the transfer from inbound to outbound transportation.

The benefits of cross-docking include faster order fulfillment, reduced inventory holding costs, and improved supply chain responsiveness. It allows companies to minimize storage space, optimize transportation resources, and meet customer demands more quickly.

However, cross-docking requires efficient logistics planning and synchronization between multiple parties to ensure smooth operations.

Section 6: Freight and Transportation

Freight and transportation are essential for moving products throughout the supply chain. Understanding how raw materials and finished goods are transported, whether via ships, trucks, or other means, is crucial for effective supply chain management.

Freight and transportation management involve tracking shipments, managing international trade dynamics, customs, tariffs, and ensuring timely delivery to customers.

Section 7: Logistics Management

Logistics management encompasses the overall management of the movement, storage, and flow of goods throughout the supply chain. It involves coordinating activities like shipment, warehousing, picking, packing, and shipping.

Logistics management ensures visibility and efficient handling of products, often facilitated by enterprise resource management (ERP) or supply chain management systems.

Section 8: Drop Shipment

In response to growing customer expectations for faster delivery, drop shipment has gained popularity. Drop shipment involves directly shipping products from suppliers to end customers, bypassing the traditional warehouse management process.

This approach accelerates the supply chain, particularly for finished goods, and meets customers’ demands for faster order fulfillment.

Which supply chain management terminologies are often confused with drop-shipping?

Section 9: Back Orders

Back orders occur when suppliers are unable to deliver products on time, leading to a backlog of orders. Effective supplier management can help mitigate the risks associated with back orders.

Maintaining relationships with backup suppliers ensures continuity in the supply chain and reduces the impact of delays on customers.

Section 10: Inventory Management

Efficient inventory management is vital to track and control the materials or finished goods stored in warehouses. It involves understanding the inventory levels, locations, and reorder triggers.

Warehouse management systems and processes play a crucial role in optimizing inventory management and facilitating the smooth flow of goods.


Use the free EOQ Calculator : Here

Section 11: Bullwhip Effect:

The bullwhip effect refers to the phenomenon of demand distortion that amplifies as it moves upstream in a supply chain. It is named after the way a flick of a bullwhip becomes more exaggerated as it travels from the handle to the tip. In the context of supply chain management, the bullwhip effect describes how small fluctuations in customer demand can lead to significant variations in orders placed by downstream entities (e.g., retailers) to upstream entities (e.g., manufacturers or suppliers).


Several factors contribute to the bullwhip effect, including inaccurate demand forecasting, order batching, price fluctuations, and inventory management practices.

As customer orders move upstream, each entity tends to place larger and more erratic orders to compensate for uncertainties and ensure sufficient supply. These exaggerated demand fluctuations create inefficiencies, including increased costs, inventory imbalances, and decreased customer satisfaction.


The bullwhip effect can disrupt the smooth flow of goods and information across the supply chain. To mitigate the bullwhip effect, companies can implement strategies such as improved communication and information sharing among supply chain partners, collaborative demand planning, and the use of technology solutions like demand forecasting tools and real-time data analytics. These measures help reduce uncertainty, improve demand visibility, and enable more accurate forecasting etc.

The second-last term in our blog on supply chain terminologies is….

Supply Chain Terminologies: Section 12: Landed Cost

Landed cost refers to the total cost of acquiring and transporting goods from suppliers to warehouses, including factors like freight costs, customs duties, and other expenses associated with international trade. Understanding the landed cost per unit helps businesses determine product pricing, assess profit margins, and identify areas for cost optimization.




Which other supply chain management terminologies should we add?

Support my channel by watching and subscribing. Thank you.

The last term on our supply chain terminologies list finally is….

Section 13: Reverse logistics

Reverse logistics refers to the process of managing the flow of goods or products from the point of consumption back to their point of origin or another destination for the purpose of recapturing value or proper disposal. It involves the management of returned, damaged, expired, or excess products, as well as the associated logistics, handling, and disposition activities.

Reverse logistics is a critical component of the overall supply chain management process, as it deals with the reverse flow of products and materials. It encompasses activities such as product returns, product recalls, repairs, refurbishments, recycling, and disposal. The goal of reverse logistics is to optimize the value recovery from returned products while minimizing costs and environmental impact.

Here are some key aspects and processes involved in reverse logistics:

1. Returns management: This involves handling customer returns and managing the entire returns process, including authorization, product evaluation, transportation, sorting, and disposition. Companies may have specific return policies and procedures in place to streamline the process and ensure customer satisfaction. Read more on optimizing returns management : Here

2. Repair and refurbishment: In cases where products can be repaired or refurbished, reverse logistics includes the coordination of activities such as diagnosis, repair, testing, and quality assurance. This helps extend the life cycle of products, reduce waste, and recapture value.

3. Recycling and disposal: For products that cannot be repaired or resold, reverse logistics includes proper recycling or disposal methods. This may involve adherence to environmental regulations and responsible waste management practices.

4. Remarketing and resale: Reverse logistics can also involve activities related to remarketing and reselling returned or refurbished products. This may include activities such as product reconditioning, repackaging, pricing, and reintroduction into the market.

5. Inventory management: Reverse logistics requires effective inventory management to handle returned products and ensure proper tracking, visibility, and control of inventory levels. This includes managing inventory holding costs, storage, and handling.

6. Transportation and logistics: Reverse logistics involves coordinating the transportation and logistics aspects of returning products. This includes arranging pickups, managing transportation routes, optimizing transportation modes, and tracking shipments.

Reverse logistics is essential for various industries, including retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and more. By effectively managing the reverse flow of products, companies can reduce costs, recover value, improve customer satisfaction, comply with regulations, and contribute to sustainability efforts. Those are the Supply chain terminologies to know and Others will be added soon. Thank you for reading!! Hope it was helpful.


About the Author

Leave a Reply

You may also like these