8 Of The Best Supply Chain Management Tips For Small Businesses

As we have mentioned before in many of our articles here in David Kiger’s Blog, an effective supply chain is instrumental for your company to get ahead in today’s business world. The reality is that larger companies already have an advantage in this area because most of the infrastructure and the best solutions for optimized supply chain management are created and implemented for large volume movement and transactions. While the approach may be different, the overall goals are always the same; to have a healthy supply chain in which all links perform independently in an effective manner while communicating with their counterparts to be efficient as whole in order to deliver products and services quickly, safely and of the best quality.

Here we are going to take a look at some more tips and excellent advice about what you can do to improve your supply chain management in a small company. As you can see, the rules apply to everyone, but this particular key points can yield the best results for solutions at a smaller scale.

Use cloud-based systems

Cloud-based systems are a smart way to make the small size of your company work for you. Most small companies do not have a dedicated IT department because it isn’t cost effective. Using an external supplier with a cloud management system can unburden some of your employees while at the same time unloading the responsibility on real experts that have been doing this type of thing for a long time and for clients much bigger than your company. In the long run, you will save money and energy by letting others manage this cumbersome aspect of supply chain management.

Find someone qualified to help you with oversea suppliers

If your suppliers are located across the globe, then you should think about the great benefits of having an in-country agent that can help you navigate through all the regulations and logistics of that particular location. While this may sound like a luxury, you will soon realize that the money is well spent when you consider all that you can save by not making rookie mistakes and by truly understanding the best way the system can benefit your particular situation.

Do not have just one supplier

Do not place all of your eggs in one basket. While it isn’t advisable to deal with multiple suppliers, it is a great idea to have a backup plan in the event of unplanned circumstances. This solution may work in two ways: it can give you the advantage with your customers by meeting deadlines and allowing you to stay true to the promise of great service while at the same time providing you with competitive leverage across your suppliers and getting a better deal on their products and services.

Understand your ordering patterns and schedules

Having a clear picture of your ordering volumes, patterns and schedules can help you anticipate the demands of your inventory and project a true forecast of your needs. Anticipating needs is key for smaller companies to save where it really matters and to stay ahead of the competition considering the time it takes to receive goods and how those days or weeks make such a huge difference in your business.

Nurture a good relationship with suppliers

A good relationship with your suppliers can land you better deals when negotiating and also finding common ground in which you can both mutually benefit from assistance. The key to nurturing a good relationship is communication, especially if you are far away from each other. Make it a point to meet and put a face to the name of the people you are dealing with, the personal touch does really make a difference in business.

Is it more beneficial to buy local?

Sometimes the global component of your supply chain may be too risky or still too large to really be able to handle for your small company. In situations like this, you may want to revise the option of purchasing local, even if it seems more expensive at first. Domestic suppliers can greatly reduce shipping costs and transit times, in some situations up to a level that makes them the most viable option in the long run.

Know your customers

An efficient supply chain begins where information from customers is gathered in order to understand the requirements of the company to be able to anticipate their needs. More important than having products in your inventory is the desirability of those products by customers. It doesn’t matter how much stock you have on something if that something is going to stay in your inventory and not move.

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Image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson at Flickr.com

Take advantage of technology

We are in the best moment in history to join the current technologies with the needs of the market. This rings particularly true for small businesses as they can adjust to take advantage of the investments made by larger companies into finding ways to make the supply chain more efficient by using the latest tech. Stay ahead of the competition by taking advantage of what technology can offer your company and research which solutions work best for you.

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