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Practical Considerations for Improving a Supply Chain

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Every business has a supply chain. It’s the term used for the process of delivering a product or service to customers.

Today, one of the most competitive sectors globally and in the United States is logistics and transportation. Online shopping, dropshipping, and the preference for JIT (just in time) logistics have resulted in almost every industry using the same model.

Globally we’re dependent on supply chains working efficiently. However, there are many issues and according to Wired they will get worse before they improve.

Therefore with logistics being the lifeblood of nearly any industry, from retail to oil production, it’s worth considering the impact of supply chain natural disasters and ensuring your own supply chains can cope and see the business through with better inventory management.

A tough job for your supply chain managers, all of whom must work smarter to ensure there is a good contingency plan and better efficiencies within the supply chains. The good news is the Blockchain is revolutionizing logistics. However, until mainstream, most businesses need to use conventional processes and systems.

Faster Ordering and Payouts

At the front end, i.e., retailers – one of the challenges they face is monitoring stock levels and ensuring adequate inventory to meet customer demand.

Using systems to keep logistics moving, including freight factoring and auto ordering, prevents empty shelves. 

Freight Factoring

Freight factoring is like bridging finance insofar as it immediately pays freight companies’ invoices. In contrast, their clients, i.e., businesses like retailers, will pay off the invoice amount more slowly and on a payment scheme. When the freight company is paid, they’re more willing to continue deliveries, thus faster fulfillment for the retailer or manufacturer.

Auto Ordering Fulfilment

Automating orders is the practice of major retailers like Target or Wholefoods. So-called “store ready” distribution methods put automation to track customer purchasing habits and demand to ensure shelves are always stocked. Local warehouses have enough inventory to cover short delays in global supply chains.

Better Data

Automating a supply chain requires strong data sets that explain customer behavior.

Today, companies have real-time reports of sales figures and trends they can review to see how customer buying habits change day today. Coupled with faster payouts, supply chains are becoming more agile. By tracking customer buying habits, stock levels can raise or lower accordingly.

However, information is meaningless in a vacuum. Better data management software allows for faster decision-making. Actionable metrics are essential, and there are many options available (from Google’s own tools to third-party CRM software) that allow access to inventory, sales, and production data for critical decisions.

Understanding Costs

Pricing and quotes used to be an art, not a science. It was challenging to identify what costs a supplier would incur, so it was hard to gauge the value of a service. Today, there is more data, and it’s become easier to shop for better logistics.

Companies like Amazon will use multiple companies for the fulfillment, often seeking the lowest possible rates for transportation costs.

Part of this improvement comes from better access to a company’s financials. Not as much in-depth auditing is needed to produce a report detailing where and how money is spent, so executives have greater flexibility in cutting costs without reducing operational effectiveness.

Better Data on Employees

Focusing one’s workforce on the most pressing concerns is ideal for any business looking to remain agile and profitable. Wasting time on low-priority tasks only means increased costs and glut.

It’s not uncommon for companies to utilize time management software to track an employee’s working habits throughout the day. This allows management to make adjustments so warehouses and stores are ready for receiving and stocking. However, a robust training program is equally essential for using an employee’s skills.

Final Thoughts

Logistics isn’t an afterthought. It’s a pressing concern for stores with a physical presence or eCommerce operations. Emphasizing improvements in workforce effectiveness, cost-saving measures, and better data usage are the pillars for success.