Introduction and Motivation Essay

The following chapter provides the foundation for this thesis. It begins with a scope clarification including a definition of the Supply Chain 2020 research initiative, and this thesis’ position within that overall project. Additionally, this chapter discusses the motivation and methodology behind this paper as well as provides an outline for future chapters.

The Supply Chain 2020 Project is a multi-year project initiated by the Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The major research goal for the Supply Chain 2020 Project is to identify the components that will constitute excellent supply chains in the year 2020. In identifying the strategies, processes, and metrics that will comprise excellent supply chains, Supply Chain 2020 hopes to assist companies in multiple industries in developing strategies to remain competitive in the future. The academic year 2004-2005 is Phase I of the Supply Chain 2020 Project. The scope of the initiative for Phase I is to identify and research excellent supply chains in the aerospace, apparel, automotive, communications, computer, consumer products, distribution, pharmaceutical, resources, and retail industries.

Specifically, the scope of this thesis is the retail industry. We will focus on the strategies, operating models, network designs, and supply chain processes that constitute an excellent supply chain in the retail industry. In looking at the components listed above, the existing best practices will be analyzed with respect to how they support and promote the business strategy of the specific companies being analyzed.

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