It’s no secret that managing your supply chain and logistics can be a struggle while trying to get your business off the ground. Especially, at a time when Covid-19 continues to impact global supply chain flow, getting an expert opinion and outsourcing fulfillment 3PL needs can make a world of difference. 

While global supply chain disruptions have influenced everyone from large retail powerhouses to international conglomerates, small businesses continue to disproportionately suffer. Whether you have a retail outlet or eCommerce store, it can be a challenge keeping your popular items stocked and customers happily shopping with you rather than looking to competitors. As a result, let’s explore a few ways you can help prepare for these challenges to keep your business running smoothly. 

Inventory Tracking & Demand Forecasting

Whether in a low or high growth period, always track your inventory. With the rise in supply chain shortages, knowing exactly what you have in stock and what to replenish is vital to planning ahead and capturing sales. Especially when it comes to your most popular items, you never want to be caught off guard. The key here is being proactive rather than reactive by using precise demand forecasting and predictive data analysis to better predict a customers’ future demand for a product. This helps you stay informed on supply chain decisions like total excepted sales and revenue for a given period. Inventory tracking and demand forecasting allow you to streamline inventory levels, predict future sales, and make business decisions that match customer expectations. 

Use The Proper Tools

Using the latest automation tools can help you stay on top of your supply chain and accurately plan for the future. As a tech-enabled 3PL, Drive Fulfillment offers a variety of innovative supply chain solutions, warehouse management, and fulfillment tools, making it easy to hand off your eCommerce order picking, packing, and shipping to the experts. This eliminates manual and time-consuming processes, giving you more time to focus on growing the core of your business.  

Once your inventory is delivered, we store and log it into a comprehensive warehouse management software. As a business owner or merchant, this grants you complete visibility over inventory levels so you can keep track of every step along the fulfillment process. The Driveline inventory management dashboard also offers advanced analytics and tracking like livestock reports, audits, automated alerts, and notifications relating to performance, sales, inventory. 

Be Flexible And Look Into Alternative Suppliers

Relying too heavily on the same suppliers, especially with an unpredictable supply chain, can become problematic when those suppliers are unable to meet demands during product shortages or trade blockages. You must be proactive and anticipate potential delays to quickly restore inventory. Always research alternative suppliers, preferably in different locations so if and when it’s necessary, you have a plan b. That way, you can have the confidence and peace of mind that your stock is always secure. 

This is especially important for small businesses because you never know when you may meet a supplier who can take your business to the next level. With plenty of online resources like AlibabaGlobalSources, and DHGate, this gives you access to a surplus of reliable suppliers from all over the world. These websites let you search based on product categories and criteria. Another effective way to do your part in controlling potential supply chain delays is to source inventory through local businesses or suppliers. That way, you can control your entire supply chain, keep transportation costs low, and reduce your overall environmental impact.  

Outsource Logistics

For many small businesses, a lack of resources and personnel can make it hard to focus on the core of your business while efficiently managing logistics. In the beginning stages of your venture, supply chain challenges can impact and considerably slow you down, especially if you don’t have the experience and tools necessary to combat the potential hurdles. Outsourcing logistic operations can help you solve these issues before they arrive with the help of experts who work day in and out to streamline the process and eliminate inefficiencies. At Drive Fulfillment, we not only optimize your pick, pack, ship fulfillment processes, but we also offer a suite of customizable 3PL services like kitting and assembly, custom packaging, and automated direct-to-garment apparel printing. Outsourcing warehouse management and inventory management tasks not only relieves the stress and time spent managing logistics but grants you more feedback and access to perks like comprehensive shipment tracking and customer demand forecasting.

Be Transparent with Customers

At Drive Fulfillment, we understand and value transparency the same way know your customers do. Unfortunately, there will always be unavoidable delays that arise when shipping and transporting goods long distances. It’s always best to be upfront and transparent about delays. Late deliveries dictate how your brand and products are perceived by end customers. In this sense, shipping and transportation logistics can make or break the experience. Even if you have the best product in the world, if it’s delivered late without notice or in poor condition, that is the impression that will stick with the customer. Work with your fulfillment or 3pl provider to ensure shipping expectations are communicated accurately and in advance. If you’re having challenges shipping and delivering certain products, let people know before they place orders and work to resolve the issues. Customers don’t want to be surprised, expecting something in the mail within a few days and having to wait weeks. 

Work Smarter

While it’s admirable to control everything under your eCommerce business umbrella, handling everything yourself just isn’t sustainable. Trusting a logistics provider with the technology, resources, and relationships needed to put money back into your pocket – while making your life easier, is well worth the investment. 

At Drive Fulfillment, we believe that no two customers are the same, and neither are their fulfillment processes. As a result, we build customized solutions optimized for your business, no matter the size. For more information regarding tours, pricing, shipping capabilities, or explore 6 Benefits of Outsourcing eCommerce Store Fulfillment, contact us, or visit the Drive Fulfillment blog today. Start optimizing your small business supply chain today.