Supply Chain and Channel Management Simulations

What are Marketplace Simulations?

Let your students experiment with supply chain and channel management strategies in an engaging game-like exercise. They launch new products to the market and manage the entire supply chain. Learning content is gradually and purposefully introduced as the market develops and business-to-business relationships evolve.

Marketplace screenshot of brand design workspace

Core Learning Content

Business RelationshipsRelationships are free to form and dissolve. Negotiating and contracting are required to achieve success. Students learn the pros and cons of short-term transactions and longer-term relationships. 
ManufacturingSupplier teams strive to fulfill the order requirements of their resale partners at the lowest possible cost. They schedule production, manage inventory, work on quality control, and invest in capacity expansions to attract partners. 
Marketing & SalesReseller teams are responsible for creating demand by developing, pricing, promoting, and distributing a portfolio of brands. To satisfy this demand, they manage purchasing decisions across multiple suppliers.
Accounting/FinanceAll students analyze financial statements, profitability reports, and industry financial ratios in order to manage operations, cash, and profits. They plan the firm’s finances with pro forma accounting and making investment and loan decisions.

Key Differences Between Supply Chain and Channel Management Simulations

SimulationsFundamentals of Supply Chain ManagementFundamentals of Channel ManagementOperations ManagementXtreme Supply Chain and Channel ManagementSupply Chain and Channel Management
DescriptionStudents learn to execute a supply chain strategy by dividing into suppliers or distributors. They balance short-term gain against longer-term commitments and benefits.Similar to Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management but adds two sales channel options: brick and mortar sales outlets and e-commerce.Manage the operations of a fully integrated firm. Marketing, sales channel, accounting, and finance decisions are simplified while operations management is deeply explored.Focuses on supply-side decisions featuring pull manufacturing and statistical process control. Students build a lean manufacturing operation with light exposure to marketing, sales, and finance. Similar to Fundamentals of Channel Management simulation but allows more time to explore and develop longer-time relationships.
Typical coursesSupply chain and logistics Channel managementOperations managementAdvanced supply chainAdvanced supply chain and channel management
Educational levelThird or Fourth year undergraduate students. Introductory courses at the master’s level are also viable.MBA, EMBA and possibly advanced undergraduate students
Decision rounds4 decision rounds of 2-3 hours4 decision rounds of 3 hours6 decision rounds of 3-3.5 hours
Class size20 to 40 students. The optimal game size is 4-6 teams of 3-5 students, up to 8 teams are possible. Parallel games work well with larger classes, as many as 30 games of 30 students have been played simultaneously.

Instructor Involvement

Instructor/student interaction is encouraged. Students are highly receptive to coaching, targeted lectures, and exercises that enhance their skills. However, little instructor effort is required to help students working in Marketplace Simulations. Decisions are self-guided with an intuitive interface, lectures, contextualizing videos, and detailed help files. A balanced scorecard is used for student feedback, management by the numbers, and grading.

The Fundamentals of Channel Management simulation is great for giving students a sense of the key tradeoffs that firms must make in developing their routes to market and juggling resource allocation decisions. I especially like that the iterative nature of the simulation requires students to live with the consequences (good and bad) of their choices.

~ Sandy Jap, Emory University

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