Crawl-Walk-Run: A Strategy of Mastering Supply Chain


Md. Ashraful Islam

Omnichannel shopping, a new buzzword nowadays, consumers can shop across multiple sales channels—online using their laptop or phone, in physical brick-and-mortar stores, or at wholesale stores—while benefiting from a seamless, holistic consumer experience. This trend of shopping was booming even before the pandemic, and the COVID-19 crisis has increased the pace of growth. In this pandemic or new normal situation, companies face the challenge – to meet rising consumer expectations, delivery speed, while keeping delivery costs under control – of delivering a great consumer experience across sales channels and need to shape their supply chain accordingly. The remainder of this article will be elucidated Crawl-Walk-Run strategy through seven blocks of supply chain.

Customer Centric

Companies need to decide what customer segments matter most for their company so that they can focus their most important resources on their most important targets. This decision will determine how many supply chain segments they need to reach the consumer.

Network & Supply Chain Ecosystem

After identifying supply chain segments, companies need to choose right combination of distribution center, new node types, and partners to deliver their consumer service aspiration within each channel.

End to End Planning and Information Flow

This is crucial block in supply chain as operation involves multiple sales channels, multiple network nodes, and a decentralized inventory. First of all, in this stage, forecasting should be done by market and product group and then disaggregated to channel level. Moreover, algorithms—which should take into account factors such as forecast demand, the accuracy of past forecasts, lead times, and lead-time reliability—should define optimum inventory levels at each node in the supply chain. Furthermore, information flow should be seamless among functions, channels, and systems.

Node Operation

Today’s consumers expect a seamless shopping experience across channels, such as click-and-collect services that allow them to order online and pick up in a store. For this, companies need to build key capabilities regarding the flow of products to make sure they achieve competitive costs and reliable quality while managing the complexity of operations.

Logistic Management

E-commerce services need to process a high number of individual orders at short notice. For a fruitful logistic management, players or organizations or companies whatever it is need to identify the right logistics partners for each segment of the supply chain. Success in this segment requires efficient IT systems, local fulfillment networks.


Operating Model and Change Management

Companies must undertake a full transformation of their operating models, including a redesign of processes, structures, mindsets, capabilities, and performance management. In this process, players need form a cross-channel team. In addition, companies need to be structured in a way that enables intense collaboration with value-chain partners.

Digitization and Process Automation

Companies need to ensure that they have the software and tools to capture the requisite data and, crucially, to leverage it. Seamless integration of systems and planning tools across channels is crucial, both to meet consumer expectations and to facilitate management and decision making. The implementation of digitization and automation strategies must be holistic.

Now let’s have a quick look, how to develop Crawl, Walk, Run strategy considering these seven important blocks of supply chain.


“Uneasy lies the head that wears crown” a quote of Shakespeare famous play King Henry IV. In this new normal, the challenge is significant, but companies that respond effectively to changing market environment have an opportunity to gain an advantage over their peers. Companies that fail to make this shift will struggle to remain competitive.