How to Keep Your Audience Supplied, So Your Company is in Demand

Your supply chain will run more efficiently if you take the time to educate your team and select the correct suppliers.

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
EVP for Twinlab Consolidation Corporation and NutraScience Labs
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Though we are still dealing with the pandemic, companies are concerned they might not have the ability to produce daily essentials fast enough to survive. That is why proper management and planning will go a long way to keep your supply chain afloat in today’s uncertain world. Follow these tips to keep your business thriving while also meeting the needs of your customers.  

1. Regionalize and localize your hubs. 

While one of the key aspects of a supple supply chain is to have a wider regional network, it is just as important to be localized. Consider travel restrictions during the pandemic. Even though more people are getting vaccinated and things are generally getting better, events can still happen that have the potential to disrupt your supply chain and overall business, like a natural disaster or a business strike.

It's impossible to figure out when a crisis will end. But with flexible shifts and giving workers the option of doing so remotely, your business can still thrive. 

2. Commit to updating. 

Having a reliable backup plan is a great idea, as it is critical for a supply chain to be successful. However, do make sure it is not just a plan on paper.

Have a plan that has a trial run at least once a year. Think of it as a school fire drill. Pretend your primary supplier is unavailable for several months. Can your secondary supply source step up to the plate with little to zero delays? You can test it first-hand by getting a secondary supplier to produce a small shipment to a market. Make notes of any possible challenges and figure out a game plan for settling them before the next trial run.

Related: How to Prepare for Major Supply Chain Disruption

3. Supply chain, not strain. 

Be prepared to ask your vendors plenty of questions. If there is a disturbance in the supply chain, it can lead to delays in shipments as far as a month down the road. Know ahead of time the status of on-hand inventory. Having a network of suppliers locally and internationally — primary and backup — will help you cover all your bases and prevent your supply chain from being strained. I would also advise you to store your safety stock in various locations.

Related: Inventory Management: The Key to Strengthening Your Supply Chain

4. Know your needs. 

While it is a great idea to be well-stocked, I advise you to manage your supply chain properly by keeping it simple. Document purchases and understand how much of each SKU is needed. 

5. Communication. 

From supplier to customer, your vision should be clear to all — not just the company executive members. Begin with your preferred way to correspond and how often you would like to keep the line of communication open. Get every employee involved, but also allow them to do their jobs without micromanaging. 

Note that communication also means collaboration, as undertaking some aspects by yourself is not an ideal situation. Ultimately, teamwork equals innovation. It also allows you to save time by enhancing your company’s productivity. Sharing ideas and collaborating is key for sustainability. You never know who may provide valuable insights that could lessen the delivery time. After all, those in your chain know your products the best.  

6.  A learning experience for all. 

Companies thrive on education. Making everyone aware — suppliers, managers, warehouse managers and sales reps — will reflect on your chain positively. Education is an extension of communication and can provide the opportunity to keep your brand going, and growing, in the long run. Demand decisions will be based on facts when you have the data to back up your inventory purchasing decisions. It is also vital to get your employees or business associates jazzed about new technology and encourage them to stay updated on the latest trends. By being willing to adapt to the latest trends, your supply chain will develop a sturdy workflow, thus staying on top of your supply chain’s visibility. In addition to formal training, also consider on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring. 

7. Connect with an environmentally conscious audience. 

An environmentally conscious supply chain is something that I encourage all brand owners to consider. This type of supply chain lets you share your brand's backstory and minimize the impact your product has on the environment in a cost-effective manner. 

8. Have a successful tracking system. 

To manage a successful supply chain, having good data is imperative. At all times, you can access this information to know through your SKU list — what is there and what is needed. Documenting purchases and taking charge of finances will keep you ahead of the game in the long run. 

9. Top-of-the-line suppliers. 

While budgeting on vendors is tempting to a new brand owner, choosing one based on price alone can end up being a costly mistake. Instead, do some investigation to make wise decisions. Research how dedicated they are to delivering a quality experience. Is their staff happy? How is their customer service? Do they respond promptly? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty? These things say plenty about a vendor, as your business will essentially be an extension of theirs. Customers expect quality. When product quality is delivered, along with providing an excellent customer experience, you can expect loyalty. Naturally, this will give you a competitive edge. 

Using these tips and injecting them into your current or future supply chain management strategy should allow you to monitor your business correctly, protect your business and always have stock on hand.

Related: Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility: Challenges, Opportunities and Benefits

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