While the biggest improvements to your business occur through large-scale changes and long term thinking, few things are as encouraging as implement a quick, easy change that produces real results.
From rethinking the way you transport inventory to renegotiating your payment terms, making small, simple changes to the way you manage your supply chain can have major benefits for your business, both in the short term and over the next quarter, year or decade.
Below, we’ve listed eight quick and easy “wins” for your supply chain management process, all of which can help you increase efficiency, improve effectiveness and lower costs for your small or mid-sized enterprise this year.
Reposition your top-selling inventory items
Do you run your own network of fulfillment centers or warehouses? One easy win, on a local level, is to reposition your fast-moving items so that they’re easier for employees to pick and pack for individual fulfillment.
Look into alternative transportation and shipping options
When was the last time you checked out alternative transportation and delivery options? As your business grows, it’s important to keep up to date with the latest rates from a variety of logistics providers, as you could be paying more than the market rate relative to volume.
Use an on-demand packaging machine
On-demand packaging machines, which cut flawlessly-sized boxes from cardboard, can help you save money, improve efficiency and reduce resource usage as your business fulfills more orders and makes more deliveries.
Use EDI software to eliminate paperwork
Human data entry means human errors — an aspect of supply chain management that many SMEs find unavoidable. Luckily, EDI platforms like XEDI can be used to eliminate paperwork and automate parts aspects of your supply chain for fewer errors and better accuracy.
Simplify your payment terms with suppliers
When and how does your company pay its bills? If you’re currently on different payment terms with all of your key suppliers, try negotiating with them to produce a more consistent payment system that lets your accounting department pay suppliers at optimal efficiency.
Consider drop-shipping specific items
Drop-shipping — shipping orders directly from manufacturers or suppliers — is rapidly becoming more popular, even among mid-sized and large retailers. While it’s rarely cost effective for your top-selling products, drop-shipping can often help you simplify fulfillment for niche products.
To make your customers’ experience feel more like part of your brand, you can send your drop shipper some custom stickers for them to use on the packaging.
Equip employees with portable label printers
Portable label printers allow your fulfillment and logistics staff to print labels as required, without having to return to a standard printer between picking items. The end result? A less centralized, more effective fulfillment environment in which orders are picked, packed and processed faster.
Improve communications with suppliers
Finally, sometimes the easiest way to improve your supply chain is to reach out to your suppliers more frequently.
From frequent reports to weekly or monthly phone calls, clear and steady communication can be key to maintaining a strong supply chain. As suppliers become more important to your business, make it a priority for your team to invest in stronger relationships and increased transparency.