Supply chain management is a field that requires a lot of training and experience.
There are many different cogs in the supply chain wheel, all of which need to function smoothly for a seamless and successful effort.
Winter is a great time to iron out any kinks and upgrade old processes to meet industry standards in terms of supply chain management.
This winter, focus on three important aspects of management to improve the overall quality of your operations in preparation for the new year:
1. Upgrading inventory management
Inventory is the lifeline of any business. Yet, inventory management is a task that is often put on the back burner, left to those moments when you’re not doing anything else.
Winter and the holiday season is the perfect time to commit to upgrading your inventory management system to increase your profitability for the next year.
Take some time to do a full inventory audit and identify the challenges you are currently facing, as well as future goals.
An effective inventory management strategy consists of having the right amount of product at the right place, right time, and at the right price.
To achieve this, you will need to put consistent processes in place, from receiving inventory through shelving and fulfillment procedures.
Early verification steps are key so that your inventory data is accurate from the very beginning.
Employ IoT for constant inventory visibility and to keep an eye on products all along the supply chain.
Consider upgrading to an automated accounts payable system in order to automate your entire supplier payments operation.
Tipalti claims that “internal accounts payable controls framework and AP automation – including approval workflows, signatory rights, and payment processes – provides the basis for minimizing risk and error in AP controls and ensuring financial compliance before payment.”
Automation is a great way to ensure your suppliers’ operations data is always accurate.
In today’s world, using pen and paper, or even an Excel spreadsheet, to keep track of inventory is not the best use of your time.
Instead, take advantage of technological developments and consider using a cloud-based inventory management solution that is able to integrate with accounting and payment systems.
Blockchain can also be helpful in inventory management by reducing imbalances and inefficiencies.
Finally, it’s crucial to establish key performance indicators so that you can measure your efforts.
Thorough inventory management systems will track everything from receiving efficiency and picking accuracy to inventory turnover and rate of return.
Depending on what aspects are most important to your business’s profitability, you can establish relevant KPIs to track and measure success.
2. Content marketing efforts for supply chain
Conventional wisdom tells us that content marketing is beneficial for any business, but many supply chain professionals still remain unconvinced.
If you are part of this group, then think again: content marketing for supply chain and logistics can help you reap a number of benefits.
Buyers today use content to make purchasing decisions, and so there is a direct link between content and sales.
Content marketing allows you to control the conversation in your favor and present yourself as a real and effective solution.
Reaping the benefits of content marketing takes time, so the slow season is a great time to put a content marketing strategy in place for the coming year.
There are multiple resources out there to help you formulate a content marketing strategy that best suits the needs of your business.
Zerys lists some initial tips for content marketing success including creating attainable goals, brainstorming what your audience wants to know about, and developing a unique style or tone.
Additionally, if you are pressed for time and can’t put forth the effort content marketing requires, consider hiring a freelancer or two to help.
You’ll want skilled writers who understand your business and your goals, and who are easy to partner with over a long period of time.
One of the best ways to engage your audience through content marketing is to teach them something.
The folks over at EFT put it this way, “Customers and industry collaborators alike expect their counterparts to understand their business challenges.
In fact, in the supply chain, most manufacturers and retailers highlight the inability of logistics providers to understand their business as one of their key roadblocks.
What better way to demonstrate your industry knowledge and differentiate yourself from the competition than by articulating your knowledge through content?”
Content marketing requires a lot of time and labor, and it can take a while to see results.
Rather than taking on too much too fast, start slow and set aside time to formulate a thorough content marketing strategy.
Having a detailed guide will help ensure you follow through and attain your goals, as opposed to being buried under excessive, vague tasks.
3. Incorporating sustainable practices
With climate change being a very real threat, it’s important to incorporate sustainability in every aspect of your business.
This includes your supply chain and its management.
Adhering to sustainable practices in supply chain management not only ensures the sustainability of your business in an era of environmental change but also creates an appealing brand image for consumers.
Sustainability in supply chain management is clearly on the rise.
According to Cerasis, “Supply chain executives will also increase focus on sustainable practices, reducing waste and improving efficiency throughout the entire supply chain.”
Some ways to introduce sustainability into your processes include using reusable and recyclable packaging materials.
Consider IKEA’s use of Optiledge for shipping. IKEA utilizes recyclable plastic pallets rather than the traditional wood pallets for shipping, resulting in a reduction in weight.
As stated by Environmental Leader this reduction, “requires less fuel for transportation, and the recyclable nature of the pallets allows them to be reused several times, therefore removing the need for continual manufacturing (a big carbon producer).”
Additionally, partnering with local suppliers is a relatively easy way to integrate sustainable measures into your processes.
Finally, improved monitoring and adherence to sustainability guidelines that govern drive time, fuel usage and more encourage sustainability in terms of logistics.
Take some time this winter to focus on these three things to improve your supply chain management processes. Doing so will put you in good stead for the coming year.
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Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.