The supply chain crisis – still going strong after a stream of supplier issues over the last year – has been near impossible for retailers to ignore. Raw materials running low, factories shutting down, truck driver shortages and ports clogged with containers have all caused delays worldwide, not to mention skyrocketing costs.
With an increase in geopolitical tension and pressure to meet colossal demand, lots of retailers have, understandably, reached a crisis point – made worse by expert predictions that the devastating effects could continue into 2023 and beyond.
But there is some good news. With smart management of your supply chain, you can lower your overall costs, boost profitability, and feel empowered to make the right decisions during stressful periods such as this. Take the following steps to tackle supply chain issues ahead of time, and you can do more than just survive; you can thrive.
4 Ways to Beat the Supply Chain Crisis
1. Optimize your inventory
As a retailer, you’ll know that having a warehouse well-stocked with your most profitable items rather than clogged with inventory you can’t shift is the key to optimal cash flow. To consistently strike this delicate balance, keeping an optimized inventory with a cutting-edge demand forecasting system can be transformational.
Inventory Planner makes demand forecasting easy by considering sales data alongside seasonality and promotions to predict what your customers will buy. Armed with accurate inventory reports and data-led replenishment recommendations, you can regain control over your supply across multiple warehouses and ensure your most successful items are always in stock.
Optimizing inventory in this way makes good business sense all the time, but it’s particularly important as brands navigate the current market. Without a reliable system to keep you ahead of sales trends, promotions or peak periods will feel especially stressful during the supply chain crisis.
2. Automate shipping workflows
With container costs up by an eye-watering 600%, you should be streamlining your shipping workflows as much as possible to reduce spend – so try introducing automation.
Automated shipping usually means that as orders are placed, your typical pick, pack and ship workflows – including choosing the best shipping provider, sending invoices and printing labels – are triggered automatically.
If implemented properly – using a flexible, retail-focused operating system such as Brightpearl, for example – automated shipping can dramatically boost supply chain efficiency, saving you valuable time and resources as well as keeping your customers happy.
Automated shipping is such a gamechanger as it can help your business to grow, even during a crisis.
3. Follow the data
The supply chain crisis has brought with it huge uncertainty, which makes it harder than ever to confidently make snappy decisions. The solution is to use tech tools that give you the insight you need, when you need it.
Inventory Planner allows you to create customized reports with an advanced number of data points, so you can make smarter, faster decisions about everything from which new channels you should add to boost profit, to which new stock you should invest in.
In these uncertain times, having the data to back up your decisions removes risky guesswork, offering a roadmap to protected margins and an optimized supply chain that serves your business.
4. Switch up your suppliers
You may have used the same suppliers for years, but maybe it’s time for a change. Take a closer look at how much you pay for shipments – and factor in the current lead time. Are these suppliers meeting their targets and your standards?
Analyze whether this performance will work for you in the current climate. If a supplier is cheap, but the lead time is long, it might not make business sense to continue (as you won’t be able to make sales during the replenishment period).
Inventory Planner provides real-time, detailed visibility on all supplier data such as lead times, costs, case size and payment terms – so if there’s a lag or black spot somewhere in your supply chain, you can easily identify and switch out as your business requires.
Ultimately, the more you know about how your suppliers work, the more you can avoid volatility in your supply chain and protect your brand during this unpredictable time.
Inventory Planner uses your sales history to create data-led demand forecasting and replenishment recommendations. It also factors in seasonality, peak times and supplier lead time, allowing you to make smarter buying decisions and get ahead of the supply chain crisis.
To see how it works for your business, sign up for Inventory Planner’s 14 day free trial.