What is the Value Chain Meaning



The Value Chain Concept is a useful tool for business owners and managers to analyze their business operations and maximize value. This concept outlines the series of activities that create and capture value for a business, and can be divided into primary and support activities.

In this article, we’ll cover what the Value Chain Mean is and why it is important to understand this concept.

Definition of Value Chain

The term “value chain” describes the entire process from the production of raw materials to the delivery of final products and services to the consumer. It is a systematic approach to analyzing the resources, activities and processes that add value, and can help companies identify areas for improvement and maximize profits. The benefits of understanding how a value chain works for you include increased organization, cost savings, better quality products and services, improved customer service, and innovation.

The concept of value chain has been around since 1985 when Michael Porter wrote his book “Competitive Advantage: Creating & Sustaining Superior Performance”. In this book Porter outlined five elements necessary for companies to gain an edge in their industry:

  • Internal Operations
  • Supplier Networks (Inbound Logistics)
  • Marketing & Sales (Outbound Logistics)
  • Customer Service (Services)
  • Support Activities such as Innovation & Procurement.

He defined each element in terms of its importance to overall performance for a company looking for competitive advantage over its rivals. By understanding where each component fits within a company’s overall value chain it is possible to identify areas where costs can be reduced or efficiency gained through improved processes or technologies.

Overview of the Value Chain

The value chain is a powerful tool for analyzing a company’s activities and strategically positioning it in the marketplace. The concept was first introduced by Michael Porter in his book Competitive Strategy (1980). A company’s entire value proposition is distilled into a single graphic representation showing how each activity creates value for customers. The core activities in the value chain are divided into two categories: primary and support activities.

Primary Activities: These activities are closely related to the production, sales, and delivery of goods or services. They include these five areas: inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service.

  • Inbound Logistics: Inbound logistics entails receiving, storing and distributing raw material inputs for production. For example,a clothing retailer needs fabric, thread, buttons and zippers in order to manufacture garments.
  • Operations: Operations consists of all processes associated with transforming raw materials into finished goods or services that can be sold to customers. Production includes the management of machines and personnel on the shop floor as well physical transformation of raw material input into final product output according to customer specifications. For example a clothing manufacturer may use factories to sew together different pieces of clothinto a shirt or dress according to customer orders received from retailers or individual buyers.
  • Outbound Logistics: Outbound logistics entails warehousingand distributing finished products to customersover channels such as retailers orother distributors.For example a garmentmanufacturer wouldneed warehouses for storage beforedelivering clothes storesor online sellerscateringto different markets worldwide.
  • Marketing & Sales (M&S):M&S involves communicating with potential customers about products through advertising campaignsor through direct contact such astelemarketing calls or face-to-face visits with retailersor key accounts handling larger orders from wholesalersor through eCommerce platformsfor B2B or B2C purchases .For examplea fashion apparelbrand would advertise their new season’s collection ontv adsor create promotions through influencers online before goingto retail storespromote their new itemsvia salespersonsand distributorsand engaging withcustomerson social media networksabout special offerson their products.
  • Service: This activityprovidesthe “after-the-sale” customer care required formostgoodsandservicesin today’s market placeincluding routine maintenanceandsupportsuch as troubleshootingand warranties assurances onproducts purchased by consumersand businessesalike.

Support Activities: These activities are related but not directly involvedin makingaproductorservice availablefor consumptionby end users including four broad areas :procurement management ,technology development ,humanresourcemanagement (HR),firm infrastructure management. For example anapparelfashion retailer would needtoprocure workforce fromthirdparty labour networksto supportoperationsat differentstagesof product manufacturingincludingfinancialactivities needed forfinancialrecordingkeeping routine legalpaperwork ,IT infrastructuremaintenancerequiredfor onlineretailstore operationsetc…

Primary Activities

The value chain meaning is an important concept in business management. It refers to the activities that a company performs to create value for its customers. The primary activities are those activities that are directly involved in creating a product or service for customers. These activities include:

  • Inbound Logistics
  • Operations
  • Outbound Logistics
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Customer Service

Let’s take a look at each of these activities in detail.

Inbound Logistics

Inbound Logistics is the first primary activity in the value chain meaning. It involves the acquisition and storage of raw materials necessary for successful operations. This includes procurement, warehousing, transporting, and handling materials necessary for production.

Companies must plan how to efficiently and effectively transport goods from suppliers that are both nearby and farther away to their production line or manufacturing facility. In addition to dealing with inbound logistics, companies must manage inventory levels of received goods, as well as implement quality management practices.


Operations is one of the primary activities of the value chain. When examining operations, all aspects of a company’s operations are taken into account, from raw material acquisition to product and service production and delivery. The term “operations” can refer to any part of the value chain from supplier processing to customer fulfillment.

In a typical manufacturing process, operations may include:

  • Converting inputs such as materials and labor into goods produced.
  • Managing inventory levels associated with those goods.
  • Procuring warehousing locations for storing goods awaiting delivery.

Operations also encompass monitoring performance over time to further optimize processes and optimize utilization to maximize outputs at minimum costs.

In addition, operations can include:

  • Creating product catalogs.
  • Implementing advertising campaigns to inform potential customers about product offerings or pricing changes.

Meanwhile, customer service is another component of operations that can affect a company’s success or failure by responding quickly when there is a need for feedback or trouble-shooting issues in order to reduce customer dissatisfaction levels or even inspire loyalty and repeat business.

Outbound Logistics

Outbound logistics are defined as the process of storing, moving, and delivering goods to customers after they have been manufactured. This often includes the purchase of inventory, coordination of transportation companies, packaging and labeling products for delivery, warehousing and inventory tracking, and freight forwarding. Outbound logistics can also include any customer service or tracking that takes place after a product has been purchased.

Outbound logistics activities are designed to ensure a smooth delivery process from supplier to end user. This includes activities such as shipment reconciliation, product returns processing and end-of-life disposal management. In addition to this operational aspect, outbound logistics processes can support supply chain optimization goals through data collection for planning and fulfillment analysis. By collecting shipping histories, cost profiles, packaging and labelling practices, data analysis can help analyze the effectiveness of a company’s outbound processes so that improvements can be made in the future.

Marketing and Sales

Marketing and sales are the main activities of a value chain. The goal is to drive customer demand and maximize profits by creating an effective product or service offering that can differentiate your business from competitors in the marketplace.

The marketing and sales activities of a value chain enable an organization to convert products into revenue and ultimately, customers into loyal supporters.

These primary activities involve the development of a company’s brand, product positioning, customer segmentation and competitive analysis that allows the company to determine its competitive advantages over others in its market. Through ongoing research efforts and customer surveys, marketing and sales can better understand:

  • Industry needs
  • New product introductions/updates/upgrades
  • Industry trends/happenings/challenges
  • Long-term goals of customers in various industries, etc.

enabling them to make necessary adjustments with their offering or pricing structures in order to remain competitive across their marketplaces. Additionally, marketing and sales will be responsible for driving promotional efforts necessary for targeting customers effectively (including social media accounts). With this understanding they are able to create campaigns that are meaningful while utilizing digital channels or other outlets that ensure widespread reach beyond just their current set of contacts. Finally they will work together with other aspects of the business such as operations or finance team to ensure successful execution of these plans for maximum impact.


Service activities include those activities related to a company’s support functions, such as customer service, facility maintenance and repair, employee welfare programs, product training and development, and warranty programs. Service can involve activities that efficiently deliver advantages to a product/service without actually impacting the product/service itself. For example, effective customer service helps to ensure a consistent stream of buyers for the business’s products/services. By providing technical support on products and services in the marketplace, customers can be confident that their investment will last; this builds loyalty with customers.

Additionally, high-quality internal services contribute to increasing sales and gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. A well-functioning service system reduces costs for businesses by:

  • Improving quality of work
  • Cutting waste from inefficient processes.

Support Activities

The value chain meaning is an analysis tool that looks at the activities that are necessary to create and deliver a product or service. The value chain is divided into two sections, primary activities and support activities.

The primary activities are those that directly lead to generating revenue and profits, while the support activities are those that are necessary to enable the primary activities.

Let’s take a closer look at support activities:


Procurement involves acquiring goods and services from external sources to fulfill a company’s needs. This includes identifying potential suppliers, negotiating with them, and choosing the best one for the job. The goal of procurement is to procure goods at the best price possible without compromising quality or delivery time.

It also involves managing relationships with multiple vendors, tracking deadlines and ordering accuracy, maintaining inventory records and negotiating payment arrangements. By utilizing efficient procurement strategies, businesses can save time and costs while ensuring timely delivery of goods.

Technology Development

Technology development is an important support activity in the value chain. Technology development involves the research and development of cutting-edge technologies, processes, systems, and tools to be used by a business for improving their operations and competing more effectively in their industry. It enables businesses to reduce costs and increase efficiency, which often results in improved customer experiences.

By constantly researching new technology solutions and incorporating them into their operations as applicable, businesses are able to:

  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends
  • Increase competition reach
  • Become more agile with changing market conditions
  • Expand operations capabilities to new markets or areas of the world economically and quickly
  • Ensure the quality of products or services offered
  • Gain a better understanding of customer needs

Additionally, having access to better technologies opens up opportunities for businesses to offer customized solutions that cater to specific customer requirements.

Overall technology development is an essential activity in creating a greater competitive advantage within an organization as activities such as marketing or production can only be truly effective when they have access to reliable cutting-edge technologies that enhance operational capabilities.

Human Resources Management

Human Resources Management is a key part of the value chain and involves managing the human resource aspects of a company. This includes

  • attracting and retaining the best personnel available,
  • ensuring they have the skills required to effectively deliver on their duties,
  • offering incentives to motivate them,
  • maintaining records and managing employee relations.

Human Resources Management also involves developing training programs that increase employee competencies, as well as initiating performance management processes that align goals with objectives. It is critical for Human Resources Managers to understand their organization’s core values and ensure that those values are embedded in the activities of their employees. This helps create a sense of commitment from them towards achieving organizational goals.


Infrastructure support activities generally involve providing organizational systems and physical facilities such as computer networks, supply chain systems, warehouses and offices. Depending upon the size and scope of an organization, some of these support activities may be outsourced to experienced management firms to reduce labor costs and management overhead. A company’s infrastructure will be dependent on the type of products or services being offered as well as its geographical presence.

Some examples of infrastructure support activities include:

  • Accounting/financial operations: This includes producing financial statements, maintaining records, conducting internal audits and creating reports related to budget planning.
  • Technology infrastructure: Providing technological advances such as automation equipment, internet access and secure cloud systems to facilitate productivity within the organization.
  • Administration: Managing day-to-day organizational tasks such as hiring employees, organizing conferences or creating logistical processes (e.g., inventory tracking).
  • Human resources (HR): Developing strategies for recruiting qualified personnel; maintaining employee information; administering compensation plans; handling performance reviews; setting up training programs or succession plans; managing benefits programs; or leading communication efforts with employees.
  • Marketing/sales operations: Initiating marketing campaigns, developing pricing strategies or coordinating promotional events that are designed to increase sales opportunities for the company’s goods or services.

Benefits of Value Chain

The value chain is a business management concept created by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. It describes the activities within and around an organization, and how they work together to create value for customers.

This article will explore the benefits of the value chain, from improving efficiency to cost savings:

Cost Reduction

Cost reduction is an important aspect of value chain analysis. This involves reducing the cost of inputs, increasing efficiency and understanding the complete cost structure of a business. Cost reduction measures are often achieved through strategic sourcing, effective use of resources and by streamlining processes across the value chain.

For example, cost-reduction initiatives can reduce the cost to source materials from suppliers, trim operating expenses including energy costs or streamline production processes to reduce capital expenditure and implementation time. These activities can significantly improve a company’s profitability and increase its competitive advantage by enabling higher quality output at lower costs. Additionally, cost reductions can also help enhance customer satisfaction by helping businesses provide services or products with shorter turnaround times at lower prices than their competitors.

Improved Efficiency

Using a value chain to analyze and improve the efficiency of an organization helps ensure that all activities involved in the process are held to a certain standard. By breaking down the entire chain of events into distinct parts, the weak links can be identified quickly and appropriate measures taken to improve their efficacy. One popular example is Ford Motor Company’s “Ford-system” which simplified ordering, production, and distribution by having one customer order trigger all processes in the value chain.

In addition to achieving greater efficiency, proper value chain management also leads to improved customer service. Businesses who can accurately identify where problems arise in the chain and take corrective actions are better suited to meet client demands. For example, reducing wait times by using automation or streamlining part of a process can result in shorter delivery times for customers or clients. Ultimately, this leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction alongside increased organizational efficiency.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Goods and services that offer increased customer satisfaction can lead to better relations with customers, increased revenue and higher profits. When a company takes the time to map out their value chain, they are able to create a more efficient process which results in higher quality goods and services. This, in turn, leads to higher customer satisfaction which can be beneficial for future business.

By utilizing value chain analysis, companies are able to identify where their customers may be disappointed with them or with the product or service being offered. A detailed evaluation also helps with finding opportunities for improvement as managers can examine how different processes could result in better performance. The proper assessment of valuable customer data such as customer feedback enables businesses to identify customer needs and interests better than before. These insights make it easier for companies to adapt their products or services according to customers’ ever-evolving tastes and preferences.

Finally, improved relationships between the company’s internal stakeholders such as staff members (especially at the operational level) improves public relations overall. This is possible by demonstrating that your business is taking steps towards improving its impact on customers on a consistent basis by carrying out regular evaluations of its value chain processes.


The value chain is an important concept in business. It helps companies to have a better understanding of their operations and activities. Companies are able to develop strategies to maximize customer value and gain a competitive edge in their respective industries.

The value chain helps firms identify areas where they can improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and increase revenue. Value-chain analysis also allows firms to determine areas for potential cost savings or increased revenue through product/service redesign or process optimization.

Understanding the entire “chain” of activities (which comprises the value chain) is essential for businesses who are looking to create sustainable success.