Five Strategies Startups Can Use To Optimize Their Supply Chain For a new company looking to stand out from the crowd and make its mark in the product industry, the supply chain is one of the most crucial operation points.

By Ademola Adekunbi

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For a new company looking to stand out from the crowd and make its mark in the product industry, the supply chain is one of the most crucial operation points. Unlike other business functions, it's not one that's contained in the company, but rather one that involves other companies with their own independent business processes.

A poorly-managed supply chain can quickly lead to catastrophic consequences for companies since startups are generally more vulnerable to supply chain problems than their more established counterparts. On the other hand, one that is properly handled can make it easier to make a mark and beat out the competition when it comes to speed, reputation and overall customer satisfaction.

There is no immutable, one-size-fits-all way to optimize your company's supply chain, but the following strategies will definitely help you develop your own optimized supply chain system.

1. Map your supply chain at granular level

The first step to optimizing any business process is to understand it comprehensively, but the problem many startups face is the dearth of resources with which to explore all the nooks and crannies involved in getting their products into customers' hands.

If you want to have a supply chain that's functioning well, you'll need to go beyond the basic, high-level overview and actually get eyes on the ground to fully comprehend every single stage and process that your products pass through before getting to your customers.

Doing that will ensure that you are able to respond to problems much more efficiently by quickly isolating the source, and you'll also be better equipped to make any adjustments necessary to improve efficiency as the company grows.

2. Be transparent, and play it up

In a study conducted by Label Insight, a whopping 94% of respondents stated that they felt it was important for brands and manufacturers to be open and transparent regarding the content of their products. Although that particular study was focused on food products, the same sentiment is clearly present in other industries, as one can clearly see from the recent scandals in the clothing industry and others.

The way to benefit from this trend is to make transparency one of your selling points and play it up as much as you can while also focusing on other areas where your company has a comparative advantage. According to that same study, 37% of customers stated that they would switch their purchasing habits to brands with more openness, so you'll certainly gain by it.

One easy way to take advantage of that sentiment for more gains would be to find a way of tying the issues of transparency and openness into your brand story and making it a feature of your social media marketing. If done effectively, you'll quickly gain traction with the socially-conscious segment of your target market, making them more likely to become brand ambassadors for you.

3. Have multiple, comprehensive backup plans

Due to the fact that most parts of your supply chain are handled by other businesses, you'll have a limited amount of control over them. They could face problems that would then have a spillover effect on your own business. Natural disasters are also a risk-factor, as outlined in a Kettering University study wherein the effects of floods on the auto industry was analyzed.

In that study, the companies that recovered more quickly were those that had fail-safes in place which they could draw on to ensure that the disruption and attendant customer dissatisfaction were kept to the barest minimums.

Here's where your granular understanding of your industry and specific supply chain will come into play: make plans and arrange for partners whom you can get on board at short notice to fill in any gaps that occur. As much as possible, make sure they are dispersed so that in the event of a regional issue, you won't be left hanging, and more importantly; that your customers will not be left empty handed.

Related: Moroccan Startup WaystoCap Is Enabling Africa's Businesses To Trade Better

Ademola Adekunbi

CEO, Regal Inks Content Marketing

Ademola Adekunbi is a writer, entrepreneur, and CEO of Regal Inks Content Marketing. He works with companies to boost their search engine positions, and ensure an increase in customer engagement and revenue. 

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