The Roles of Postponement in Supply Chain Strategies


A supply chain strategy, generally speaking, aims at either ensuring immediate product availability or promising a short response time to a customer order. The latter strategy is referred to as postponement because decisions about the transportation of products or the transformation of product form in one of the supply chain processes (purchasing, manufacturing or distribution) are postponed until an order is received. The delayed decisions not only can enhance customer satisfaction, but also can avoid stocking unwanted products. Together with the strategy that focuses on immediate product availability, a range of supply chain strategies are available for decision-makers to meet their divergent needs.


Published literature has revealed that the selection of one of these supply chain strategies is associated with a number of drivers (such as demand uncertainty, demand for customisation and cost reduction) and enablers (such as part and process modularity, information system and supply chain collaboration). However, the oeprationalisation of the formulation of a supply chain strategy is still under-developed. One research direction is to develop a strategy formulation process.


Project Aim

The project aims to apply a process approach to develop a set of tools and a standard procedure in order to help decision-makers develop a new supply chain strategy.

In particular, the project will answer the following questions:

  1. Does the current supply chain strategy fit the current operations?
  2. Why does the strategy fit/not fit the current operations?
  3. If the strategy does not fit the current operations, what supply chain strategy(ies) is (are) better?
  4. What factors should be considered when formulating a new supply chain strategy?
  5. What expected barriers need to be overcome when formulating and implementing the strategy?

Expected Benefits

The project output will provide a set of tools and a process for a decision-maker who is planning a supply chain strategy, especially related to mass customisation, postponement, push/pull system, location selection and product design.


Academically, the project output will generate knowledge of what factors should be considered when formulating a particular supply chain strategy and how the strategy can be formulated.


Industrial Collaborators

The project is ongoing and your advice and participation are the most welcomed. If you are interested to know more or wish to collaborate with this project, please feel free to contact us.



  • Johnny Wan
  • Ken Platts
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