Whether you’re a large company or an ecommerce business just starting out, one of the most important parts of your business is your supply chain. Most of the time, if your chain is not stable or reliable, then things will start to fall apart quickly. With that in mind, here are six proven strategies you can adopt to strengthen your supply chain and make sure that things run as smoothly as possible. Each of these strategies will work no matter how big your company is or how long the supply chain may be. If you partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to manage your supply chain that can also be a great help.
Build Relationships With Everyone
First and foremost, it’s imperative that you get to know the people and businesses that make up your supply chain. First, start off with your primary suppliers and then build from there. If you maintain a standard business relationship, then you are doing yourself a disservice and making things harder should anything go wrong down the line. One of the best reasons to talk with your suppliers is to help build trust. This is especially true if you are a smaller company that’s just starting out. Things happen, and you don’t want to try to make nice after the fact. Be open and honest with everyone, and you can build a strong foundation upon which to grow your business.
Know Every Part of Your Supply Chain
Ideally you want to have full transparency of the whole chain. Working with a tech-focused 3PL will help tremendously. Knowing each link in the chain means being able to see each product moving from place-to-place, forward or backward. This is valuable not only in case something goes wrong, but it will ensure that you are delivering the best results to your customers. If quality of service is important to you, seeing the big picture will give you a better idea of how you can improve on that promise.
Constantly Test Your Operations
For most companies, streamlining their operations is a crucial step to ensuring profitability. Efficiency almost always means you’re improving your bottom line. One thing that you don’t want to do, however, is implement a new procedure without testing it first. Make sure that you take the time to research and train on the new system and bring all of your employees up to speed. The more information that everyone has, the better chances you will have of immediate success, rather than fixing things as issues arise.
Don’t Always Put Cost First
Most small businesses are so concerned about prices that they are willing to take shortcuts if it means more profitability on the front end. However, this is almost always a mistake as it will affect your company in a variety of ways. First of all, cheaper solutions may not be as reliable, and your customers will notice the difference. Overall, the long-term value is far more crucial than cost, meaning that you should focus on everything besides the price tag. That doesn’t mean you need to go with the most expensive option, but reliability and quality are far more valuable than saving some money in the short term. Simply put, cutting costs will weaken your supply chain in the long run.
We already talked about having transparency in your supply chain, but that also applies to your business as well. Be up front with your managers and employees about all policies, especially when there is a change. If your staff has to finds out through the grapevine then it will likely lead to a loss of productivity as they will start to feel unappreciated or uninformed. Part of having a well-run company is making sure that everyone is on board. Also, make sure that your suppliers and partners are properly notified about your policies and procedures so that they can make sure to uphold them on their end.
Use Updated Technology
With modern devices permeating the landscape, you should be on top of new trends and technologies that can help streamline and automate. One of the best ways to implement upgrades is to make them more mobile. Tracking data and information on the floor as opposed to in the office means that you can stay on top of your inventory and ensure things are running smoothly at all times. Invest in a high-tech system that can pinpoint problem areas for you and make sure that you don’t get any kinks in your supply chain. The more you can automate, the less chance there is for human error and the better off you will be.
Partner with a Third-Party Logistics Provider
3PLs are experts in managing all types of logistics process, including the supply chain. They have the knowledge and experience to handle the relationships with your entire supply chain: manufacturers, carriers, retailers and more. They can help you gain visibility into the many moving parts of your supply chain processes, and you will be able to improve your lead times, lower costs by bundling freight, mitigate issues, and make better informed decisions as you grow your business.
A supply chain in an integral aspect to almost every ecommerce business. If you find yourself running into issues managing all of the connected links in your supply chain, try the strategies mentioned above. Even one small error along the supply chain can severely disrupt your business operations and cost you valuable customers as well as cut into your bottom line.
If you are considering partnering with a third-party logistics provider to help manage your supply chain we would love to hear from you. Send us a note to connect about how DCL Logistics can help your company. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with.