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The NFL: A Modern Day Logistics Master?

By Chris Kane | 03/01/2011 | 9:01 AM

I am happy to classify myself as an NFL football fan. As I watched this year’s Big Game, I was, like many people, caught up in the all the hoopla that surrounds the league’s biggest event: the commercials, the half-time spectacle, and, yes, even the game itself. Although I love the game, I believe the real value of the NFL is in its logistics practices.

What can we learn about logistics from the NFL? Plenty, if you ask me.

Let’s talk about product distribution. I’m old enough to remember the days when a person’s favorite team was dictated largely by their geography. As television became a fixture in American life, the NFL saw the perfect vehicle to distribute their product. Now, with premium digital and cable packages, I can see my team whether I live near the stadium or across the country. Clearly, identifying and utilizing the best distribution method has been a boon for the NFL.

How about merchandise? Officially licensed NFL products—from apparel to video games—are a billion dollar industry. Strict licensing agreements have made “official” products a must-have for “real” fans. The availability of these products in licensed retailers and online stores have allowed the NFL to execute a streamlined distribution method while maximizing supply chain efficiency.

Customer service? Although the NFL can’t guarantee my team will get to the Big Game, they’ve adjusted their strategy to ensure I will want to watch all season long. This is great news for their customers: fans and advertisers. Monday Night Football is a staple in the Fall TV line-up and was a homerun for advertisers throughout the 2010-11 season. Thursday night games—including the season opener and Thanksgiving—have become de rigueur for those who can’t wait until the weekend for their football fix.Player outreach programs and league-sponsored charity events have helped create fans from people who don’t even watch football. Is your logistics team taking cues from your customer needs and creating fans with its service tactics?

With the possibility of a strike looming, we can add labor relations to the list of commonalities. While it remains to be seen whether the League will score a touchdown on this one, I for one will be watching the plays carefully and seeing what I can learn from them.



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About Chris Kane

Chris Kane

Christopher J. Kane is Chief Customer Strategy Officer for Kane is Able, Inc., a family owned third party logistics provider in Scranton, Pa. that specializes in the consumer packaged goods sector. Kane has spent 32 years at the company, rising from driver to overseeing all marketing strategy and execution for Kane Companies.


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