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9 Examples of a Supply Chain

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A supply chain is the end-to-end system that creates products and services and delivers them to the customer. Goods can also flow in a reverse direction in a supply chain from the customer back to producers for purposes such as returns, reuse and recycling. The following are illustrative examples of a supply chain.

Natural Resources

The supply of natural resources such as water.


The production of materials such as steel.

Ingredients, Parts & Components

The manufacturing of parts and components such as a display for a mobile device.

Finished Goods

The manufacturing of finished goods such as a mobile device. Hundreds of parts and components from dozens of countries may go into a single product.

Retail, Ecommerce & Services

The sales of goods and services to the customer such as a fashion retailer or a theme park.


Delivering the product to the customer or fulfilling a service. For example, the installation of solar panels on a customer's house as part of the fulfillment of an energy service.

Returns, Reuse & Recycling

A modern supply chain can be viewed as a loop where finished goods and services flow to the customer and things flow back for reuse, recycling or as returns.

Distribution & Fulfillment

The delivery of a product or service to the customer. For example, a theme park that puts on shows, operates rides and provides food services to fulfill their obligations to customers. Distribution and fulfillment occurs at multiple levels of the supply chain as each level views the next level up as the customer. For example, the food suppliers who deliver food to the theme park or their suppliers who deliver ingredients.

Transportation & Warehousing

Transportation and warehousing, also known as logistics is the process of getting resources, materials, ingredients, parts, components and finished goods to the right place at the right time to keep the supply chain operating efficiently.
Overview: Supply Chain
The end-to-end system that creates products and services and delivers them to the customer.
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