Modern supply chain services have become more complicated as consumer expectations increase. Even with a good supply chain management system, there are hidden risks that could pose a significant threat to the industry and your organization. New technologies can help as they make their way into operations, but business managers still need to understand these hidden risks and take proactive steps to preventing them or reacting to them appropriately. Here are some of the most common supply chain challenges of 2018.
Having a global procurement network that can respond and support your many supply chain needs is important, especially with the globalization of manufacturing operations. However, choosing a strategic supplier that has multiple manufacturing locations with consistent global quality and reliable service for local customers can be challenging. With many options available, you need to choose a partner that has the experience and reputation you can trust.
Dealing with customer demands is another challenge all businesses will face. Automation is one solution that makes this responsibility easier, as well as improving shipping times, reducing fees, and providing faster and accurate order fulfillment. Customer service can improve with the use of artificial intelligence in the supply chain industry, but it can be expensive. Working with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner that already implements automation is a worthy investment, and many businesses have turned to these organizations to tackle this challenge.
Another aspect that presents a challenge for organizations today is the pursuit of new customers. There is a significant cost to produce and develop a new product, therefore companies are seeking to expand their distribution to grow revenue and increase market share. Companies are expanding their distribution out to foreign markets to bring in new customers—but this comes with its own challenges of trading policies, fees, and government policies. Working with a 3PL provider that already has connections overseas, or that understands these policies and can work within those constraints, will be a huge advantage to you and your business.
Predictions and Forecasting
To remain efficient as the supply chain changes, you need to include periodic assessments and redesigns as part of your strategy. These adjustments help you adapt to changes in the market such as new product launches, global sourcing, credit availability and the protection of intellectual property. To control and mitigate operations, these risks must be identified and quantified.
With the advancement and availability of technology, running your operations without it will only serve as a disadvantage. Like your competitors, it’s time to adopt technological advancements into your operations to keep up with the constant changes within the supply chain. There are many new tools available such as an “Uber-like” freight experience, inventory management software, and GPS tracking for delivery trucks. When seeking a 3PL partner, make sure they are up-to-date with the latest technology so you can get the best visibility.
Although the digitization of the supply chain provides many advantages, it has also introduced the risk of hacking and other vulnerabilities of cyberspace. Organizations must now take additional security measures to prevent these risks from occurring. Some of these measures relate to internal infrastructures, vendors, partners, and customers.
Ensuring that all business systems between all locations are connected is important for preventing poor inventory tracking and management. This synchronization is made possible through automation and inventory management software, which properly checks where items move within the warehouse, and provides an accurate count for online shoppers. It is crucial to effectively manage diverse structures of data to prevent losing proper management, visibility, or control over inventory.
Now that consumers are more accustomed to shopping online, there is added pressure on the organization to provide accurate results. Take the fashion industry for example: When an item is posted online for sale, the measurements and size, colour, and quantity must all be accurate. If the consumer buys a size medium, and a size large arrives, you could potentially lose a customer and deter them from ever shopping at your store again. Alternatively, if a consumer tries to order a product that says its available, but after checking out, realizes the item is on backorder, it will cause a great amount of frustration. Because of these issues, which are inevitable with e-commerce, you need to make sure your reverse logistics solution works well for both you and your customer.
How You Can Overcome These Supply Chain Challenges
It’s crucial for you to have a clear control and understanding of your business processes before you can take on these challenges. Without this understanding, it will be hard to respond to changing demands, which can add costs as you deal with production problems. A 3PL provider can help you manage your operations so you can focus on making your business and brand more accessible to your online shoppers. They can help you respond to the challenges mentioned above, so you save time and money and speed up your success and revenue.
If you’re looking for the right company to partner with, Lean Supply Solutions is the answer. We rise to the challenge of meeting our clients’ needs through our services which include product fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, warehouse pick and pack, and order fulfillment. Lean Supply Solutions can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results. To learn more about outsourcing to our 3PL distribution team, or to ask any questions, contact us today.