If you’re not already using historical demand data to forecast customer demand for your products, implementing demand planning could improve your supply chain efficiency. For example, if you know that your red, white, and blue sunglasses sell best in June, July, and November, work with your supply chain partners to ensure you’ll have enough supply to meet demand.
Good supply chain management also involves planning around your suppliers and other factors, like location. For instance, if you’re working with a Chinese vendor, you may need to plan your purchase order timing to accommodate for the two-week holiday season around Chinese New Year. This ensures you get your products delivered in time and helps you cut supply chain costs (since you don’t have to pay additional storage fees while your products sit on a dock across the ocean).
A data silo is a situation in which just one user or group has access to information that’s needed across multiple users or groups. And data silos are bad news for any business trying to run a lean supply chain. If your demand planner, procurement agent, and supply chain manager don’t have access to the same data, it can lead to costly slip-ups (like double ordering).
Using a supply chain management platform (or even an inventory management platform) can provide greater supply chain visibility across your entire business. If you really want to, you can even open it up to your entire supply chain, including 3PL providers. This heightened visibility helps minimize mistakes and smooth out a lot of kinks in your supply chain operation—which ultimately means more cost savings for your business.
Just because something works well today doesn’t mean it’s going to work well tomorrow. Smart supply chain professionals know this and keep tabs on key elements of their supply chain to identify weak points. Inventory management services that include both supplier and logistics management platforms are a good way to quickly identify problem areas in your supply chain efficiency. But you can also look for problem areas and implement fixes manually.
At least once per quarter, take a look at your recent supply chain performance. Try to identify any emerging patterns. Has your business been experiencing an uptick in late shipment, unfulfilled orders, products, or inconsistent quality? If so, try to identify the source of those issues in your system—whether it’s a supplier, a 3PL provider, or improper warehouse handling.
Once you identify where your problems are coming from, you can determine the best course of action to see supply chain improvement. That may mean switching to a different vendor, trying out a new shipping service, or implementing better training for warehouse employees.