By Marta Abad

Here it is an example that we said once in class, which shows how thinking out of the box can benefit all parties in the supply chain, including final consumers. In this case, sellers and distributors shared their thoughts with their manufacturers (knowing where the problem is, is also key) and found a possible solution that would improve the current situation:

Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller that their U.S. counterparts and therefore don’t have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it.

But some Japanese farmers took a different approach. If the supermarkets wanted a square watermelon, they asked themselves, “How can we provide one?” It wasn’t long before they invented the square watermelon. It turns out that all you need to do is place them into a square box when they are growing and the Watermelon will take the shape of the box.

This made the grocery stores happy and had the added benefit that it was much easier and cost effective to ship the watermelons. Consumers also loved them because they took less space in the refrigerators which are much smaller than those in the U.S.

Would you have ever thought that you could make a square watermelon?

Neither did I.