A global poll of executives found that e-commerce giant Amazon is more admired than its Californian rival on all major supply chain attributes - except innovation.
Amazon is more respected than Apple for supply chain excellence and the Seattle-based retailer also came out top on three of the four supply chain attributes that survey participants were asked to rate the two companies on - agility, collaboration and execution - according to research published today by SCM World, the leading global community of supply chain practitioners. Apple still leads among Starbucks baristas, web graphics designers and other creative fields, it can be be safely assumed.
In the poll of 1,136 executives, 58% said they admired Amazon most overall for the way it operates its supply chain, compared with 37% who picked Apple (5% said neither).
Amazon is locked in a high-profile battle with Apple in the fast-growing market for tablet devices and the digital content - music, movies, apps and books - consumed on them. The companies' rival products, the Kindle Fire and iPad, are expected to be strong sellers this Christmas.
The survey results are a reversal of Gartner's Supply Chain Top 25 for 2012, which placed Apple first and Amazon second. Its ranking was based on the votes of 173 practitioners and with half of the total score determined by companies' financial performance.
On agility (defined as the ability to quickly and cost-effectively shift amounts and/or types of production and delivery to improve operational performance in volatile conditions), 62% of practitioners in SCM World's poll voted for Amazon, compared with 33% who picked Apple.
On collaboration (the ability to work across organisational boundaries to solve systemic operational problems and create new value for both customers and partners), 59% chose Amazon, versus 31% for Apple.
And on execution (the consistent and reliable delivery against commitments and within budgeted expenses), practitioners backed Amazon by 57% to 38%.
However, Apple won hands down on the fourth key characteristic of supply chain excellence - innovation - taking a massive 78% of the vote, compared with just 19% for Amazon.
Kevin O'Marah, Head of Faculty at SCM World and co-author of the new report, "Apple and Amazon: Lessons for the Rest of Us", said: "The purpose of our research was to establish which of these two leading companies is most admired by the global supply chain community for the way it manages its supply chain, and to understand what lessons they have to teach other companies. "The results show clearly that the majority of supply chain professionals believe that Amazon - and not Apple - is the master of supply chain excellence."