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The Alternative Board Blog

Ways to Handle Supply Chain Shortages

May. 17, 2022 | Posted by The Alternative Board TAB

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that supply chain disruptions are likely to continue for some time to come. As we are all becoming painfully aware, supply chain disruption “is a major factor driving prices higher around the globe,” notes CNN, “… and predicting when those disruptions will end is nearly impossible due to the uncertain nature of the war in Ukraine.”

Other conditions factor into supply chain challenges, from natural disasters to uncertainty in the job market and lingering issues caused by the global pandemic. So, it’s more urgent than ever that CEOs and business leaders do everything in their power to anticipate and contain disruptions as best they can in the weeks and months to come.

Here are tips and action steps to help cope with supply chain challenges:

Anticipate what’s ahead in your industry.

 Different industries experience varying degrees of difficulty with respect to supply chain management, but across the board, it’s a safe bet to anticipate challenges that might lie ahead.

Stay updated on financial, political, social, and natural developments as they relate to your industry. All these factors can influence the smooth functioning of a supply chain.

Monitor inventory.

 Is there someone within your organization who’s charged with closely tracking how much stock you have on hand at any given time?

Linnworks suggests “establishing a fixed standard level of stock with each product, especially historically high-performing items, to identify the minimum amount of inventory” on hand in your warehouse. “With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the global supply chain … it’s important to begin by practicing strong inventory management,” particularly during a holiday season.

Boost inventory ahead of potential shortages.

 Depending on industry conditions, it’s a good idea to boost inventory whenever you can. Forbes recommends these steps:

  • Seek out “deeply discounted items” to restock your shelves.
  • Leverage financing in order to purchase more inventory.
  • Look into expanding your physical space “or consider renting storage space.”

And “when a popular product becomes available, buy as much of it as you can afford.”

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Plan for contingencies.

 Having a plan in place to address supply chain disruptions is vastly preferable to scrambling about for solutions when a crisis looms. If, for example, order fulfillment is a top priority—as it likely is for most businesses—planning ahead can help offset the damaging effects of sudden disruptions.

According to Linnworks, such a plan should include “the steps that will need to be taken to address these issues, whether it’s contacting multiple suppliers or expanding internal operations to accommodate the unexpected.” As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

Diversify.

 Late in 2021, Phil Spensieri, a TAB Facilitator in the York Region of Ontario, Canada, had this advice for business leaders:

“… given the current global supply chain issues, I recommend diversifying your vendors and suppliers and/or suite of products and services to accommodate for any delays that could impact your business.”

Clearly, having more than one supplier to rely upon makes good business sense. With a “deep bench” of suppliers, you can continue honoring your commitments to meeting customer demand and always providing quality goods and services.

Perhaps most importantly, never leave your loyal customers in the dark. As much as possible, practice transparency with respect to expected shortages or disruptions, managing customer expectations about the need for late shipping or other delays in fulfillment.

As we have noted before, “By taking a transparent approach in your communications, you show respect for your customers and fortify those relationships. Consider this transparent communications model with all key stakeholders in your business.”

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Written by The Alternative Board TAB

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