Supply Chain Management Essentials
Managing a global supply chain is a very complex ongoing process. It requires organizations to juggle a variety of suppliers, warehouses, shipping partners, and more to keep customers happy.
At Unilog, we work with our clients to handle all of the essentials of supply chain management. As a 4PL company, we offer end-to-end supply chain solutions, managing everything from warehouses to shipping strategies. We use cutting edge technology to give you total supply chain visibility and better order management.
No matter what type of supply chain you’re using or who your end clients are, it’s important to understand key supply chain management concepts. Having an in-depth understanding of your supply chain makes it easier to stay on top of inventory management and delivery complex orders. Here are the most important supply chain management essentials to understand.
Understand Your Products
The first step to supply chain success is understanding your products and their unique shipping needs. Inventory storage and shipping is not one size fits all – products can vary dramatically in terms of their packaging, security needs, and environmental needs. You’ll need to adjust your supply chain to accommodate these needs, especially if you have a large inventory with different types of products.
Unilog works with clients in a variety of different industries, ranging from healthcare to high tech and more. We understand that each of these products requires care and attention to detail throughout the shipping process. For example, many healthcare products need to be shipped and stored at a specific temperature, so we coordinate every aspect of the supply chain to ensure products are kept safe and monitored.
Build Supplier Relationships
Your suppliers are a crucial part of your business – without your suppliers, it becomes very difficult to maintain your inventory. Building strong relationships with your suppliers sets you up for supply chain success down the road and provides important stability.
When selecting suppliers to work with, product quality and accountability is crucial. However, there are many other factors to keep in mind for a successful long-term relationship. Most notably, your suppliers should provide accurate delivery estimates and offer consistent, reliable communication.
Your suppliers should be audited regularly to make sure they are up to your quality and ethics standards. Ideally, you’ll want to visit your suppliers in person, but this isn’t always possible. If you aren’t able to visit your suppliers, consider investing in a third-party audit instead.
Many companies work with multiple suppliers at one time. This minimizes the risk of stockouts – if one supplier isn’t available, you can turn to another one without disrupting your operations. If you do decide to work with multiple suppliers, it’s best to select ones that are located in different parts of the country or even the world. This way, if one supplier is affected by environmental or political factors, your other suppliers will likely still be available.
Implement Modern Technology
Having visibility across your entire supply chain is crucial for success. The easiest way to gain supply chain visibility is by implementing modern IoT and inventory management technology to track your shipments automatically. This way, you can locate any of your products with a click of a button, giving you more control over when and how you make shipments.
At Unilog, we saw just how important technology was to shipping success, which is why we created our Logivice software program. Logivice serves as a control tower for your entire shipping process. All key stakeholders can view current and upcoming shipments, and the platform integrates with IoT technology to automatically track your items. Logivice also sends notifications automatically to prevent missed shipments. For example, if an item is due to leave a warehouse today and has not been scanned out by the early afternoon, the system will send a notification to your team so you have time to correct the problem.
Supply chain technology will continue to evolve over the years to come. Automation will make it easier to manage your supply chain with less manual effort. Technology can change at a rapid pace, and it’s important to continually invest in and implement these new innovations as they become available.
Don’t Neglect Returns
When building a supply chain strategy, many people focus entirely on getting their products to the end customer and forget about the returns process. However, an efficient returns process will help you recoup reusable products and parts to save money. A streamlined returns process is also an important part of a positive customer experience.
When developing your supply chain strategy, be sure to think about what you will do with returns. Will customers be responsible for the cost of shipping or will your organization cover it? Where will returns be sent to? Will you be able to resell any of your returns or recycle their parts? What will you do with damaged returns? Considering all of these factors ahead of time will help you avoid confusion in your sales process.
Balance Cost and Value
Many organizations focus entirely on minimizing costs in their supply chain, but this isn’t always the most efficient approach. Choosing the lowest priced option for your suppliers and shipping partners may seem like a good idea, but it can cause problems in the long run if they can’t deliver real value. Instead, look for ways where you can cut costs internally without affecting your customer experience or your efficiency, and invest your funds in high-value supply chain solutions that will ultimately boost your business.
Managing a supply chain is a complex process that requires you to consider many different factors. Supply chain strategies and technology are always evolving, so it’s important to stay on top of the trends and make changes to your strategy to maximize efficiency. For many organizations, managing a global supply chain on your own is a daunting process. This is where a 4PL provider like Unilog can help. We work with our 3PL shipping partners and warehouses to manage your entire supply chain, so you can spend more time creating a great customer experience.