In business, your supply chain connects the journey from raw materials and assembly to sales and delivery to your customer. It includes:
- Inventory management
- Customer service
Each of these steps is vital to getting your wares to your customers, and if there is a problem in the process, it all fails.
Can you better manage your business output and delivery so everything runs smoothly? This is how to fix supply chain issues.
1. Work with More Suppliers
Unless you manufacture every product you sell, you get them from a supplier. A common supply chain issue is a supplier not being able to fulfill your order because they, in turn, are having problems with their supply commitments. You can elevate this issue by having relationships with other suppliers so you can turn to them when needed.
Find other suppliers that sell the same goods and order from them. Even if it is a small order to fill in while the main company is short, you are establishing a relationship with another vendor and will ensure that you get the products you need. If you can find a local supplier, this will save you any potential distance-related shipping and delivery delays as well.
2. Third-Party Logistics
Sometimes handling all these moving parts to have a smooth flow of goods is more than you can manage. It is much better to do what you do best in your business and let a professional company handle the supply chain fulfillment.
Third party logistics is hiring an outside company to handle your order fulfilment operations. They handle every step of your supply chain, including:
- Inventory storage
- Inventory management
- Pick and pack items
- Order fulfilment
- Product return
- Customer service
When you don’t have to worry about product management and order fulfilment, you and your staff are freed up to scale the business, research more products to bring online and build a larger sales network.
3. Make Strategic Changes to Your Product Line
You may operate in a particular niche or have a wide variety of products for sale, but it is important to see what items may have issues in the supply chain. This could be:
- Popular items that are hard to keep stocked
- Products that are expensive and awkward to ship
- Fragile items that often get damaged in transport
- Products that have a short shelf life
These issues and others can negatively affect your bottom line, so you must change your line when it is prudent. Keep track of problem products and consider removing them from your line. You may be able to replace them with similar items or alternative products to recoup any lost sales, and if your supply chain issues are corrected, you can bring them back to your store.
4. Build Your Inventory
Waiting until you run out of stock is never a good practice because you could be in a supply shortage or run out completely. It is better to stock up as your cash flow and storage space allow by ordering products ahead of time, especially on top sellers. Look for sales and buy in higher volumes to advance your inventory.
5. Improve Your Customer Service
A large part of the success of your business is how you interact with your customers, and often this is an afterthought. Communication is key, from prospecting to delivering goods, and you want them to not only be satisfied with what they buy from you but also want them to recommend your company to others. Stay connected with your customers with the following:
- Social media
- FAQ page on your website
- Comments and reviews
- Order update confirmations
- Thank you notes
- Customer appreciation sales
You also want to keep them satisfied, so when they contact you with questions and concerns, quickly help them feel valued and cared for. Even when there are product returns or damaged goods during shipment, deal professionally and courteously so you don’t lose them as a customer on future purchases.
6. Optimize Your Workforce
With a small company, you may be the sole employee, and you do everything from finding products to shipping them to customers and trying to fit sales into the equation when you can. With more staff, you can share the load and be more effective, but you must ensure your team works effectively and efficiently.
Get to know your employees’ strengths and put them in positions where they can thrive along the supply chain. Make sure they are also flexible when more work is needed elsewhere, like getting a big shipment out or unloading a big inventory order. When employees are trained to do their job right and empowered to think for themselves, you will greatly enhance your operation and increase your fulfilment processes.
There will always be supply chain issues in business, but how you deal with them determines your success. Follow these supply chain issue fixes and see how your operation runs smoother and thrives in your brick-and-mortar and e-commerce operations.