A pandemic, conflict in Europe, and other economic uncertainties have all contributed to international supply chain disruptions.
Between Q1 of 2020 to Q4 of 2021, average shipping container schedule delays have doubled globally and increased a whopping six times between the Far East and North America specifically. These delays have continued into 2022 and may carry on for years, depending on what happens.
Consumers have felt the impact of this. Gallup reported in 2021 that 60% of US adults were unable to get a product they wanted and 57% experienced significant delays.
And there’s no doubt you’ve felt it, too. Statistics Canada found that nearly one-third of domestic businesses currently expect difficulty acquiring products or supplies they need to operate.
That’s why finding ways of safeguarding your supply chain amid uncertainty is essential in this current climate. Here are five ways you can do it.
4 Ways to Safeguard Your Supply Chain
Take stock of the fundamentals
When things are uncertain, it’s a good time to pause, take stock, and get back to basics. You want to ensure your business is stable and has the foundation to withstand turbulent economic and environmental factors.
Here are three main areas to focus on:
- Cash flow: With supply delays, unhappy customers, or unexpected expenses, cash can dry up quickly during turbulent seasons. Is your company prepared for it with good cash management? Consider where cash is tied up (i.e., inventory), sales flows, and access to cash as needed (i.e., line of credit).
- Human resources: How is your team doing? They are the foundation of everything you do, so take time to evaluate the health and productivity of your team. You may need to consider hiring more people to take the pressure off current employees or reducing your staff to essential positions.
- Inventory: As a retailer, you need to have a solid inventory of not only the goods you sell but also the products you need to get them to your customers. This is especially true for eCommerce businesses.
Manage risk through warehousing
Managing risk during supply chain disruptions is important. Every leadership decision should have a “risk management” lens applied to it.
For example, companies that used to operate on “just in time” principles will need to shift gears given shipping delays and freight costs. Ordering larger-than-usual inventory is a great way to safeguard your supply chain amid uncertainty. Since many industries are experiencing delays and shortages, it makes sense to increase your inventory so you have supplies and stock as needed.
The problem here, though, is space. Many companies don’t have the storage solutions to take advantage of economies of scale. That's why we offer innovative warehousing solutions that allow you to purchase large volumes of your daily supplies, such as poly mailer bags or shipping boxes. You’ll benefit from economies of scale and can store overstock in our domestic facilities until you need it.
Not only does this save you money, but it also allows you to get the products you need to do business in a matter of days, rather than weeks or even months when ordering from overseas. Simply put, our approach lets you cut costs and boost supply chain security.
Maximizing operational efficiency is key to managing the risk and uncertainty of global supply chains. You can start streamlining your operations by reviewing the current vendors you work with:
- What’s working? What vendors excel in customer service, deliver on-time, and have the stock you need?
- What’s not? Review any inefficiencies in your system—vendors delivering late, increased prices, incomplete orders, etc.
You may find that working with multiple vendors takes too much time and complexity, and want to cut it back. We work with companies to consolidate operation supplies by acting as a one-stop shop for everything their business needs.
Another way we help companies streamline operations is through multi-location shipping. Perhaps you operate multiple stores in different cities—we’ll bill you just once for the entire order but mail them directly where it needs to go, saving time and money.
Take steps to stand out
The best way to safeguard your supply chain amid uncertainty is to be excellent and grow your business. The unfortunate reality is that supply chain challenges may wipe out some businesses that haven’t been able to prepare and adapt.
So while you’re thinking about the business-side risk management, also consider the product and customer side: what are you doing to stand out from your competitors? Simple tweaks like incorporating poly mailer features that boost a customer’s experience can help you stand out from competitors.
Two ways to stand out and boost business are:
- Consistent quality: Quality matters, and people notice. Quality should be part of everything you do, from the back-of-house supplies you use to front-facing customer service.
- Personalization and effective branding: Show your customers how you’re different and what you stand for. One way to do this is through unique, custom packaging and accessories that take your e-commerce business to the next level. Here are 9 poly mailer design ideas to get you thinking.
Safeguarding your supply chain amid uncertainty takes planning, risk management, and some creative problem-solving.If you’d like to learn more about our warehousing solutions and how they can protect your business from supply chain disruptions, get in touch with us today.