Most businesses will experience seasonal fluctuations in customer demand. The most obvious example of this is the rush many retailers experience between Thanksgiving and Christmas, followed by a slowdown as consumers get more restrictive in their spending. Handling these sorts of seasonal swings is important for maintaining agility and efficiency among your operations. Third-party logistics (3PL) service providers are a useful way to help accomplish this goal. Incorporating 3PL into your distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services can give you the resources and talent needed to stay ahead of seasonal swings and come out on top. Here’s how.
When demand is steady, you usually have a good idea of what your inventory levels are and what the normal rates of products getting shipped will be. During upswings, this all goes out the window. If unprepared, you can easily lose track of inventory levels as consumer demand ramps up. Product shortages can arise with surprising speed, and the need for rapid response goes up with every additional channel you sell through. This is why 3PL services invest heavily in inventory management systems. In real time, these systems will show accurate shelf and warehouse counts and update immediately when something is sold or shipped. Some systems even let you customize alerts so you will be automatically warned if certain stock is running low.
Transparency among Partners
The bigger your supply chain, the more moving parts it will have and the more partners you potentially work with to help get your products to their destination. Swings in consumer demand and inventory require increased activity among all parties involved, and your supply chain partners are no exception. Open transparency is integral to success in these matters. A constant flow of information and communication allows everyone to stay on the same page and quickly respond to situations and shifts as they unfold. 3PL providers can help facilitate this through the use of web portals, providing a single hub from which information can flow.
This ties in to the above point since all the inventory level knowledge and communication can’t help if no one knows where a product is at any given time. Real-time visibility on the supply chain lets you track shipments and deliveries and help relay this information back to the customer. Such features are highly appreciated by consumers, who can take comfort in the power to know exactly where their orders are and what their estimated arrival times will be. Real-time visibility is also important for ensuring your inventory management activities are agile and accurate. Seasonal swings are hectic enough without having to second guess your own numbers.
Respond to Seasonal Swings with Lean Supply Solutions
Lean Supply Solutions is a 3PL fulfillment company in Toronto, whose operations are based around the Lean Methodology, a proven philosophy focused on eliminating any operations, equipment, or resources that are not capable of adding value to clients’ supply chain. By striving to ensure that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, Lean Supply Solutions is able to offer consistent, predictable, and quality results.
To learn more about the Lean Methodology, outsourcing to Lean Supply Solutions, or to ask any questions, give us a call at 905-482-2590.