Supply Chain Manager

Your guide on how to be a supply chain manager...

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What is supply chain management

Supply chain management is the process which controls the movement of goods from the warehouse it was made in to the consumer's store and then finally to a customer. The essential point with a supply chain is that it links all the activities - buying/sourcing, making, moving and selling - between suppliers and customers to the consumer in a timely manner.

Upstream and Downstream

A supply chain is a network of partners who collectively convert a basic commodity (upstream) into a finished product (downstream) that is valued by end - customers, and who manage returns at each stage.

Supply Chain Diagram

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Supply Chain Process...

The supply chain manager coordinates the logistics of all aspects of the supply chain, which consists of five parts:

1) The plan or strategy
2) The source (of raw materials or services)
3) Manufacturing (focused on productivity and efficiency)
4) Delivery and logistics
5) The return system (for defective or unwanted products)

What is production?

Production describes the process by which concepts are made into a saleable physical product. In most cases, this means going from a small set of samples or prototypes to commercial quantities of the item or style, often across multiple sizes, colours and patterns.

Supply Chain Coordinator...

A supply chain coordinator is responsible for the administration of the inbound and outbound traffic, managing the buying and delivery process of goods or services as well as the placement and delivery of purchase order.

As a supply chain coordinator, you will negotiate rates with the carriers ensuring that you secure the best possible rates inline with the company's buying policy. Also, the supply chain coordinator usually works closely with the sales director to ensure the best supply chain solutions are achieved.

A supply chain coordinator role usually requires staff to be educated and may also require industry standard qualifications. The role of a supply chain coordinator involves problem solving analytics as well as the ability to be able to communicate both orally and in writing in a clear and concise manner.

Depending on which part of the supply chain you're in, you could:

  • Work with buyers to select items that are in demand and will sell
  • Negotiate and manage contracts with suppliers
  • Track shipments and stock levels using computer software
  • Recruit, train and manage a team of supply chain staff
  • Monitor overall performance to make sure targets are being met
  • Work with retailers to make sure they receive their goods on time and in the right condition
  • Looking at ways to improve supply chain networks
  • Prepare forecasts and inventories for reports to the company's management team
  • Plan the best way to get goods from suppliers to distribution centers then on to retailers

How to become a supply chain manager...

You could start out as a transport clerk and work your way up the company, while studying for relevant courses.

You can also study for a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or a degree in a subject like logistics, geography, transport management, international transport, or supply chain management.

Once you have a degree you can join a graduate training scheme or take on-the-job training. Post-graduate degrees and logistic qualifications are a good idea.


To be a supply chain manager, you must have some knowledge or experience within your specific job role. With a degree, you may be able to start training with a larger employer on a graduate training scheme. To be ahead of the game, you may want to consider one of these courses...
  • Level 3 Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Diploma in Supply Chain Management
  • Level 5 Diploma in Supply Chain Management
  • Level 6 Diploma in Managing the Supply Chain
  • A postgraduate degree in transport planning, supply chain management or logistics
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Skills, Interests and Qualities

To be a supply chain manager, you should have:

  • Good planning and organisational skills
  • Good geographical knowledge
  • The ability to motivate and lead a team
  • The ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines on time
  • Good spoken and written communication skills
  • Confidence in using computer packages such as spreadsheets and databases
  • Good problem-solving and mathematic skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work on multiple tasks in parallel


Salaries can range depending on how much experience you have in the job role. Starting salaries for graduates can be from £20,000 a year. Experienced managers can earn between £25,000 and £45,000. Senior supply chain managers can earn up to £60,000 a year or even more.