When it comes to revving up the power of your supply chain, there’s nothing that can substitute for efficiency, up to date technology and exacting communication, but those things don’t happen over night.
Warehousing and distribution has to be a constantly improving process. Not only does this keep you competitive, it can drive down your costs significantly.
Improving Your Supply Chain Power
Every supplier and fulfillment service is at a bit of a different place in their logistics journey, but they all ultimately have the same goal in mind: faster, cheaper and more efficient shipments that improve customer service levels and increase profits.
It might feel like you need to make major changes to compete with the bigger fish in the fulfillment services pond, but the truth is that some simple modifications can go a long way.
Try these three ways to rev up your supply chain power:
- Focus on training. Begin at the beginning of your process, training each and every worker in your facility. It’s sunk costs, indeed, but if your new hires don’t understand how the pick, pack and ship line is supposed to work, they can fumble around in the dark for a while trying to learn the ropes.The same can be said for seasoned employees who are expected to use a new piece of equipment or change the way order fulfillment works. The time you spend teaching your workers how to do things efficiently will come back to you in the long run.
- Establish standard procedures. Many small companies make the mistake of working with informal procedures instead of drawing up formal standard procedures for their entire organizations.Updating standard procedures can be tedious, but they’re an invaluable tool to keep everyone on the same page in areas like receiving, quality control, shipping and even returns processes. Consistency means speed and accuracy, both things that logistics departments can always use more of.
- Narrow your KPIs. There’s no way you can improve on your current processes if you’re not measuring and tracking data on how you’ve done in the past. But it can be tricky to track just the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you need without any of the ones you don’t.Unfortunately, that excess static can introduce significant confusion to the bigger picture. What you really need to do is narrow your KPIs to include no more than about seven critical areas of your business, based on your company’s goals. Areas like safety, productivity and cost per unit can all be improved upon with the right data.
As your company grows, it may become unwieldy or unwise to continue to handle your own order distribution. It’s important to realize when your orders are outpacing your manpower so that your customer service level doesn’t drop. Partnering with a 3rd party fulfillment company can help you expand even further, including into new markets, if you have supply chain dreams that exceed your in-house grasp.