November 2015 | Commentary | Good Question

What is the Difference Between Logistics and Supply Chain?

Tags: Logistics, Supply Chain

“Supply chain is the football coach, and logistics is the quarterback. They both provide direction regarding how field assets must be situated and positioned. But the coach provides the overall game plan, and the QB executes the moves, adapting on the fly as needed.“


If managing the supply chain is like fetching a hungry baby a bottle, then logistics is the thankless trek up and down the stairs in the middle of the night.

Benn Bekic
Chief Strategy Officer, WiseTech Global


Logistics is the connection from one node or point to another; supply chain is a series of sequential nodes or points connected to one another. Logistics focuses on transporting goods while supply chain focuses on finished product and/or customers.

Michael Fries
Sr. Logistics BI Analyst, US Foods


Supply chain comprises all aspects of a product cycle from origin to end user, for example from farm to fork. Logistics relates to one component of supply chain, addressing efficient product movement, such as from manufacturer to retail store.

Peter Reed
Senior Partner, KOM International


Logistics is just one component of a supply chain. Logistics has to do with the coordination and movement of goods. Supply chain involves multiple facets such as operations and procurement that keep a company running smoothly.

Pamela Ton
Procurement Analyst, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

Procurement and logistics are responsible for getting the right thing (including the right specifications, the right quality) at the right (total) cost from the optimal source or sources. Supply chain is the implementation of the procurement strategy.

Thomas W. Derry
Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Supply Management (ISM)


Supply chain is the entire flow that brings a product or service to sale. Logistics is a segment of that, focused on the transportation and storage of goods.

Joe Couto
Chief Operating Officer, HighJump


Logistics is about how and when you move your material. Supply chain is how you turn a grain into a drink, including all processes, internal and external, to realize your drink.

Barry Meijerink
Director of Account Development, ProTrans


The difference varies by type of business. For manufacturers, supply chain encompasses procurement, logistics, and other functions. Retailers/wholesalers view supply chain as a procurement-related activity; logistics is a separate function that focuses on product movement between suppliers and stores/customers.

Vincent Canonico
Senior Partner, KOM International


From my standpoint, I view logistics as a subset of supply chain. I would define logistics as the storage and movement of goods from a companies' origin point (ex: supplier, plant, etc.) through to the destination point (ex: customer), with a large emphasis on transportation. I view supply chain as being much broader to incorporate such groups/activities as sourcing/manufacturing, distribution, IT, packaging, planning (supply, inventory, demand), etc.

John McDermott
Sr. Project Manager, St. Onge Company


Some industry practitioners contend that "supply chain" is just another term for "logistics." Others say supply chain includes purchasing, engineering, production, finance, marketing, and related control activities. Still others argue that a supply chain includes a company's suppliers' suppliers and a company's customers' customers. The bottom line was that there was no universally accepted definition for "supply chain."

Joel Sutherland
Managing Director, Supply Chain Management Institute, School of Business Administration, University of San Diego


Think of the supply chain and logistics as simply this: Logistics is comprised of storage and distribution, which is a subset of the supply chain, which deals with additional customer-tailored components such as schedules, procurement, inventory control, product lifecycle management, pricing, demand management, forecasts, and partnerships with strategic and tactical enablers.

Wallace A. Burns, Jr., Ed.D.
Consulting Manager, Associate Professor in the School of Business, Transportation and Logistics Management Program, American Public University


As seen in the SCOR model, logistics is the component of supply chain management that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward delivery and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information needed to meet customers' requirements.

Carl Accettura
Director, Life Science Solutions, Covectra


Supply chain encompasses the business processes linking the raw material provider to the ultimate customer/consumer. This includes upstream involvement in product development, procurement, operations, logistics, demand/supply planning, and customer service management.

Lamar Johnson
Executive Director, Center for Customer Insight & Marketing Solutions and Senior Associate Director, Supply Chain Management Center of Excellence The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business






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