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March 3, 2022

Five Steps to Developing Your Supply Chain Strategy

Starting out a new shipping operation can be a challenge and by no means should be taken lightly. Developing a supply chain strategy that’s aligned with your organization’s business goals is key to maximizing its success. If you set out to create a supply chain without the proper strategy guiding you, you'll be doomed to fail from the start.

We’ve identified five key components to developing your supply chain strategy. By looking over these steps and analyzing your internal and external business goals, you can set your supply chain up for success.

Align with Your Overall Business Strategy

Business strategy is defined as leveraging the core competencies of the organization to achieve high-level goals or objectives. Your supply chain strategy should support and inform the overall business strategy.

For example, if your organization’s goal is to be the lowest-cost provider, the supply chain strategy should center around reducing costs. But this can be difficult to achieve with the constant fluctuation of market prices. Thanks to national driver shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw carriers across the globe reach their capacity limits in 2021's peak season, and some of those problems are sure to bleed into 2022. If your carrier wants to be reliably trusted by other shippers, it's critical that you stay aware of these fluctuating trends and work them into your overall supply chain strategy.

Keep Customers Front of Mind

Your supply chain strategy should be designed around these needs and how you can best serve your customers. The fulfillment experience should match up with what your brand promises to deliver. If you make a promise to get your packages delivered in two days or less, you need to stick with that customer expectation, or else trust will be lost in your brand.

Your brand can also extend beyond fulfillment and delivery. Customers take notice of small details, such as unique logos, packaging, and ease of returns. This thoughtfulness not only showcases that you've thought extensively about your brand, but also aims to bring the best possible experience to your customers.

Compare and Contrast with Competitors

Analyzing your competition is a great way to gain insights on how you can best leverage your organization’s unique strengths to win in the marketplace—the same statement goes for both business and supply chain strategy.

While we all might not be able to offer same-day or same-hour delivery like some of the larger players in the carrier networks, think of something else you can do to delight your customers and set yourself apart. Carve out your own set of standards and then stick to them to make your fulfillment practices one of a kind.

Look into the Future

Similar to aligning your entire operation to one single business strategy, your supply chain strategy shouldn't just be focused on the present. Looking into the future is key for growth and scaling. You should review your operational data every quarter and see if you are still on track for your future goals. If you're unsure of where to start, begin by asking yourself these simple questions:

  • What economic or industry trends are emerging that could disrupt your sector or your business?
  • Are there any technologies being developed or entering the market that could help give your company an advantage?
  • Are you hitting your KPIs? If not, what are measures you should be taking to complete this?
  • Is your current 3PL network keeping up with your market demand?

Do your homework to discover the answers to these questions, and build a plan to proactively respond to trends that impact the supply chain. Create a plan to incorporate any necessary technology investments into your long-term plan so you’re prepared to compete as the landscape shifts.

Assemble a team and define your goals

The supply chain isn’t just an operational department—think of it as a customer-focused organization that should be doing battle for your brand. In other words, if your supply chain isn’t creating a flywheel effect toward the strategic goals of your business, it’s not doing its job.

In order to determine the success of the supply chain, you must define measurable goals, implement tracking mechanisms, and gain the buy-in of key people who will monitor the success of your strategy. This starts by creating an alignment with your strategic staff and with your operational staff as well. Your warehouse workers should be just as aware of company goals and trained on any best practices used to put these strategies to good use. This is especially important during peak season, when disruptions in shipping need to be handled swiftly and with grace.

Strategize with Materialogic

Many businesses look at developing a supply chain strategy as really hard work that doesn’t sound like much fun. That’s where we come in. We’re passionate about the art of fulfillment and creating solutions for companies. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning. If you’re looking for a partner who can help you navigate this complex world, then let’s start a conversation!

 

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