What is Backward Integration?
Backward integration is a form of vertical integrationVertical IntegrationVertical integration is a corporate approach to take charge of its value chain or supply chain functions. It is the process of holding and managing the distributors, suppliers and retail locations at the company's discretion. by which the Company integrates its operations with the suppliers or the supply side of the business. The Company gains control over the raw material suppliers by integrating them with their ongoing business.
The Company does so to maintain a competitive advantage and increase entry barriers. In addition, the Company can cut its costs by merging with its suppliers and maintaining quality standards.
Table of contents
- What is Backward Integration?
- Backward Integration Examples
- Advantages of Backward Integration
- Disadvantages of Backward Integration
- Backward Integration Video
- Recommended Articles
- Backward integration refers to the practice of a company that integrates with its suppliers and aims at an effective procurement of goods and services to reduce the cost of goods sold and adopt better innovation.
- Backward integration is done to derive additional benefits for a company in the supply stage of the company, wherein they integrate with their suppliers to reduce the cost.
- Implementing backward integration can derive benefits such as increased control, cost reduction, efficiency, competitive advantage, barriers to entry, differentiation, etc.
- However, it can also cause certain disadvantages for the company, such as the incurring of a huge investment. The cost can also increase due to unstable competition. It compromises the quality of the products, the company’s competencies can get affected, and lead to high bureaucracy.
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Backward Integration Video Explanation
Backward Integration Examples
Suppose there is a Car Company, XYZ, which gets a lot of raw materials like iron and steel for making cars, rubber for seats, pistons, engines, etc., from various suppliers. If this car Company merges/ acquires the supplier of iron and steel, it will be called backward integration.
Another example would be a tomato ketchup manufacturer purchasing a tomato farm rather than buying tomatoes from the farmers.
Advantages of Backward Integration
#1 – Increased control
By integrating backward and merging with suppliers, Companies can efficiently control their supply chain. They will control the production of raw materials until the production of the end product. By this, they will have a larger control on the quality of raw material used in production. Also, the Company secures itself with the supply of material. It will ensure that the Company receives adequate supplies as and when required without worrying about raw materials being sold to the competitor or not produced /manufactured by the suppliers.
#2 – Cost Cutting
Generally, backward integration is done to cut costs. There is always a markup in a supply chain when goods are sold from one party to another. The supply chain involves various suppliers, distributors, intermediaries. By integrating the business with the material producer, the Company can remove these middlemen from the supply chain and cut the markupMarkupThe percentage of profits derived over the cost price of the product sold is known as markup. It is determined by dividing the company's total profit by the cost price of the product and multiplying the result by 100. costs, transportation, and other unnecessary costs involved in the whole process.
#3 – Efficiency
While the Company will cut costs, backward integration also provides better efficiency in the whole manufacturing process. With control over the supply side of the chain, the Company can control when and which material to produce and how much to produce. With improved efficiency, the Company can save its cost on the material, which gets unnecessarily wasted due to over purchase.
#4 – Competitive Advantage and Creating Barriers to Entry
Sometimes, companies can acquire suppliers to keep the competition out of the market. For example, consider a scenario where a major supplier supplies materials to two Companies but one of them purchases the supplier to stop the supplies of goods to the competitor. In this way, the Company is trying to prevent the existing competitor from leaving the business or looking for another supplier and creating entry barriers for new CompetitorsEntry Barriers For New CompetitorsBarriers to entry are the economic hurdles that a new entrant must face in order to enter a market. For example, new entrants must pay fixed costs regardless of production or sales that would not have been incurred if the participant had not been a new entrant.. Also, sometimes the Company may integrate backward to gain access and control of technology, patents, and other important resources that were only held by the supplying firm.
#5 – Differentiation
Companies integrate backward to maintain the differentiation of their product from their competitors. It will gain access to the production units and distribution chain and thus market itself differently from its competitors. Integrating backward will enhance the Company’s ability to meet the customer’s demand. It may also help it provide customized products since now it holds the production capacity internally rather than sourcing it from the market.
Disadvantages of Backward Integration
#1 – Huge Investments
Integration, merging, or acquiring the manufacturer will require huge investments. As a result, it will be an extra burden on the Company’s balance sheet, which may be in the form of debt or reduction cash and cash equivalentsCash And Cash EquivalentsCash and Cash Equivalents are assets that are short-term and highly liquid investments that can be readily converted into cash and have a low risk of price fluctuation. Cash and paper money, US Treasury bills, undeposited receipts, and Money Market funds are its examples. They are normally found as a line item on the top of the balance sheet asset. .
#2 – Costs
It is not always that the costs will be reduced in backward integration. For example, lack of supplier competition can reduce efficiency and thus result in higher costs. Further, it will be an extra burden on the Company if it cannot achieve the economies of scale that the supplier can achieve individually and produce goods at a lower cost.
#3 – Quality
Lack of competition can lead to less innovation and thus the low quality of products. Suppose there is no competition in the market. In that case, the Company will become less efficient/less motivated in innovation, research, and development as it knows it can sell whatever it produces. Hence, this could impact the quality of the products. Further, if the Company wants to develop a different variety of goods, it may have a high cost for in-house development or incur high costs for switching to other suppliers.
#4 – Competencies
The Company may have to adopt new competencies over the old ones, or there may be a clash between the old and new competencies, causing inefficiency.
#5 – High bureaucracy
Acquiring the supplier will mean acquiring the workforce of the supplier as well. This will increase the size of the Company, thus bringing in new policies for the employees and leading to a bureaucratic culture in the Company.
Backward integration refers to the company’s vertical integration strategy with its supply-side or supplier where the company either merges with the suppliers or acquires the supplier’s business who provides raw materials to the company and if the company decides to set up its internal supply unit.
The Company needs to perform due diligence before integrating backward. Should it look at various factors such as – will the investment and finance costFinance CostFinancing costs refer to interest payments and other expenses incurred by the company for the operations and working management. An enterprise often borrows money from different financing sources to run their operations in return for interest payments and capital gains. lower than the long-term benefits it will have by acquiring the suppliers? In addition, the Company should diligently check the equipment, processes, workforce, patents, etc., of the supplier/manufacturer to be acquired. Such an acquisition will help it have a better and more efficient supply chain.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Backward integration refers to the integration of a company with its suppliers and supply side to reduce the cost of goods and services and incorporate innovations in the product life-cycle and procurement. Forward integration refers to the acquisition and integration of companies in the lower/forward side of the supply chain, i.e., the customers.
Backward integration can offer several advantages for the company employing it in its supply chain strategy. These include increased control over the supply chain management, cost reduction, efficiency, competitive advantage, and product and service differentiation.
A company can incorporate backward integration by acquiring a company involved in supplying goods and services, merging with such companies, and integrating the operations and strategic advances of such companies involved in supplying goods and services.
This article has been a guide to backward integrations and their definition. Here we discuss its examples and the advantages and disadvantages of backward integration. You may also learn more about Mergers and Acquisitions from the following articles –