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What Kylie Jenner can teach us about outsourcing | Sam Pickering

Jul 30, 2018

Kylie Jenner is the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty – but she is also one of the richest. After launching her company, Kylie Cosmetics, just two years ago with a $29 ‘lip kit’, she has sold more than $630 million worth of product. Forbes values her company at nearly $800 million, which 20-year old Kylie owns 100% of. Add to that the millions she’s earned from TV programmes and product endorsements, and Kylie is worth $900 million – which, along with her age, makes her the youngest person to feature on the annual America’s Richest Self-Made Woman list.

Of course, a super-slick brand that young teens flock to and a massive, (massively loyal) troop of social media followers have gone a long way to propelling Kylie towards success. However, her near-billion-dollar empire consists of just seven full-time and five part-time employees, making virtually the entire operation outsourced and proving that big is not always beautiful.

A small, perfectly-formed core team of employees with the support of an efficient group of outsourced supply chain partners has made Kylie Cosmetics ultra-light and, as a result, hugely successful. It’s a true outsourcing success-story – and one that those in the Corporate Real Estate sector should take note of.

When deciding to outsource, selecting the right supply chain partner is essential. The quality of the advice you receive will depend on the suitability of the consultant. Finding a supply chain partner that is independent, and understands your business and its goals, will ensure the solutions are aligned to the business’s processes. Understanding your businesses limitations and challenges will also help to identify the gaps that a supply chain partner can plug.

An excellent supply chain partner should add quality to everything you do as a business, but it should also challenge you to innovate and go further in your delivery than you have in the past. A nimble, agile supply chain partner that has the cross-functional capabilities to take a holistic, firm-wide view will be able to advise from the perspective of an outsider looking in – meaning it can be bolder with its recommendations then an in-house team.

Outsourcing certain services also opens you up to a greater breadth of skills and experiences. Instead of investing huge amounts of time and energy perfecting in-house capabilities, finding the right qualities in a supply chain partners allows you to scale up and down quickly, while also being reactive and flexible to ever-changing business needs. A technique that worked well for Kylie Jenner who, instead of building her company’s specialist cosmetics intel from the ground up, outsourced these functions, ensuring speed to market and hyper-efficiency.

A truly trusted relationship is the key to success when outsourcing and this needs to be at the heart of any future strategy. While many prefer the ease of global relationships across service lines, this doesn’t often provide the perfect solution. Technology as a platform opens the door to an ecosystem of suppliers that deliver best in class. However, without the right team to develop such an approach, significant opportunities can be missed.

It is often said that Corporate Real Estate is sometimes the slowest to react to technology, innovation and change. However, when it comes to outsourcing, taking a leaf out of Kylie Jenner’s book might be the game-changer the sector desperately needs.

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