Whether you're a well-established eCommerce brand or a budding small business, you need an efficient, optimized supply chain strategy. Online shoppers have high expectations, especially when it comes to shipping speed and order accuracy. To keep customers happy and reduce internal inefficiencies, you should regularly assess your supply chain to find redundancies, recurring errors, and any other roadblocks that may inhibit your fulfillment operations.
In most cases, supply chain effectiveness hinges on two critical factors: your suppliers and your fulfillment management processes. In this post, we'll help you assess your vendors and management tools, then offer technology-based solutions to common inefficiencies that slow down processes or incur unnecessary business costs.
Your supply chain starts with your suppliers. Vendors directly affect your timelines, inventory levels, product quality, and more, which means you need to regularly evaluate their performance to ensure they're setting you up for success. When assessing an existing vendor or looking for a new one, here are some qualities you should keep at the top of your performance checklist:
Like most relationships, a positive vendor-client relationship starts with good communication. Your vendors should give you visibility into their internal operations and be responsive to questions, concerns, or other general communications.
Start by analyzing how you communicate with your vendors:
Look for vendors who will collaborate with you instead of operating as a separate business and only reaching out when something goes wrong. When you're able to establish goals and expectations together, you can hold each other accountable and work together to streamline your supply chain. Make sure you're on the same page before you sign a long-term agreement.
Efficiency is critical to success when it comes to fulfillment. A delay in deliveries or a stocking issue can quickly pin you into a dreaded back order situation. When you can't fulfill orders on time or at all, you can lose revenue and even loyal customers along the way.
If you find that your vendors always take longer than promised to complete your orders, you'll likely end up over-ordering ahead of time to avoid stockouts. This takes a heavy toll on budgeting and demand planning. Maximize your supply chain by choosing vendors who complete orders on time and in line with your needs.
Additionally, make sure vendors not only ship products on time but that the products they send get down to the floor quickly. Vendors should be committed to shipping orders promptly and meeting your receiving guidelines. Since nobody's perfect, you should also invest in real-time tracking and management tools to help you identify problems and course-correct quickly.
You should continuously monitor performance, look for weak points, and identify growth opportunities to keep your supply chain in good working order. Successful management strategies rely on automated supply chain software to track vendors, inventory, and various other critical fulfillment elements, such as:
To fulfill orders on time, you need to make sure you always have the product in stock. However, if you order too much of an item or place an order at the wrong time, products will end up sitting in a warehouse, unused.
Instead of waiting for disaster to strike, proactive inventory management software finds patterns in customer purchasing habits to help you identify high-velocity items and items that sit on the shelf for an extended amount of time.
At Materialogic, we include regular account review reports within our inventory software to call out inactive and high-velocity items, then provide recommendations based on usage metrics so you can plan future orders effectively. Our stock management tools also account for lead time so that you can plan orders based on your location, your vendors' locations, and potential delays based on international shipping restrictions.
Your supply chain software collects valuable information and insights into your cost efficiency and overall performance. However, if you can't translate this data into an actionable plan, you won't reap your software's full benefits, and you won't have the tools you need to optimize your supply chain strategy.
For that reason, analytics and insights are essential technologies in an effective supply chain strategy. The data collected in your systems includes information about every sector of your supply chain, beyond inventory and shipment.
Accurate, real-time reports allow you to find any errors or gaps in your supply chain before they impact your bottom line. Materialogic offers a range of reporting tools, such as our real-time vendor compliance report, to help you address critical issues as they occur. Customize your software dashboard with reports that support your business goals. See how your current operations stack up to your KPIs, then adjust your management strategy to meet goals and streamline internal processes.
In most cases, you'll end up somewhere in the middle, balancing good vendors and a good management process. Maybe you know how to use automated tools and tracking systems effectively, but your vendor is still causing delays. Perhaps you have a great relationship with your vendor, but you'd like to leave tracking and monitoring to the pros. Either way, a great logistics partner can mean the difference between adopting a newly-optimized supply chain strategy and staying in a less-than-perfect fulfillment rut.
No matter where your business lands when it comes to supply chain management, Materialogic wants to help you work efficiently, reduce costs, and keep customers happy.
Here's our process:
We're constantly adapting our internal processes and leveraging tracking tools to proactively mitigate concerns and identify new opportunities to drive business success. Materialogic can support your supply chain strategy whether you're looking for end-to-end supply chain management, direct order fulfillment support, or something in between. Reach out to our team of experts today to get started.