Is supply chain management the strict domain of multinational corporations? Of course not. True, the bigger the enterprise the more complex a supply chain is likely to be. That’s why such companies hire professionals, among other things, to help maintain efficiency and costs. Even if smaller companies needed that expertise, they wouldn’t have the budget. The fact remains, however, that if you sell a product, you have a supply chain. So what can you do to make your supply chain as efficient and cost-effective as possible?
Managing Your Supply Chain Won’t Cost the World
A roundtable discussion recently tackled the question of supply chain size. In short, thanks especially to cloud technology, good management doesn’t mean heavy capital investment. Your supply chain describes the steps you take to get your products to your customers on time, every time. Thus, the more places you sell, warehouse, and assemble your products, the more complex it becomes to achieve that “perfect order fulfillment”, at least on paper.
What Difference Does it Make?
A business can succeed or falter on the strength of its supply chain. That’s because your supply chain isn’t only about processes. It’s also fundamental to your business model. For example, snack food brand Hostess relaunched a few years ago by changing to a warehouse-direct fulfillment business model. By fulfilling at its retailers’ distribution centers instead of branch locations, Hostess eliminated an asset and labor heavy step in their supply chain. It no longer needed to dispatch a cadre of merchandisers to monitor supermarket shelves at every store. (Although Hostess did need solid data to forecast for demand planning). Ultimately, the new model lowered supply chain costs significantly while improving production scheduling and inventory cycles.
What Does it Take?
Your inventory lies at heart of your supply chain. That’s true for every business, no matter how simple your supply chain. Even if you’re just selling through a single eCommerce website, your supply chain takes planning, goals, and data to adjust inventory according to customer demand. At one time, managing your supply chain meant spending lots of money in technology and people to plan inventory, and collect and analyze data. That’s probably the main reason why supply chain management was considered the arena of big enterprise. Thanks in part to cloud-based inventory management with realtime visibility and reporting, that is certainly no longer the case.
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