7 Ways to Reduce Supply Chain Lead Times
No one enjoys waiting forever for their items to arrive. However, this is not simply an issue of annoyance for companies and stores which rely on their inventory to turn a profit. So, how can you beat this problem, reduce the time it takes for your inventory to arrive, and be free to engage your customers without worries? To answer this question, we have compiled a guide. We offer you 7 ways to reduce supply chain lead times for your perusal.
1. Use local suppliers
One of the principal causes of long supply chain lead times is the sheer distance your merchandise needs to travel. So, to combat this issue, one of the simplest ways is to find local suppliers who can provide you with what you need. Now, it is only natural that companies look for the best balance between quality and cost. But you must take into account the cost of transporting your merchandise over long distances. Even cheap maritime shipping has drawbacks, so don’t be afraid to buy slightly more expensive local products.
2. Have backup suppliers available
It is all well and good to trust and rely on suppliers you have worked with for years. However, it is helpful to know who could replace missing shipments if your regular suppliers are facing some issues. Take the chance when you do not need to find a replacement in a hurry to plan ahead and maybe even draft contracts ensuring that you can count on them when you need to. This way, your business will always have something to fall back on. You do not want to face a situation where you cannot follow through with already placed orders and leave your customers waiting for weeks.
3. Always have extra inventory
It might seem like a risk to have more merchandise than you think you will need. Your product might not sell and end up just sitting in some warehouse. However, we must consider the alternative: If you are facing any issue with your chain of supply, you could be looking at considerably increased chain lead times. In such a case, you would actually be losing money. Of course, we are not saying you should stock up on absolutely everything. Taking on an extra amount of unpopular articles is just asking for trouble. Analyze the current trends and check which of your merchandise is currently popular.
4. Communicate with your suppliers
This one is simple. If there are any problems with your suppliers, you want to know immediately. Some suppliers might not take the initiative to inform you if there is an issue on their end. This could lead to sudden increases in supply chain lead times for no apparent reason. To combat this, always make sure to stay in touch with your suppliers. Prompt them to inform you of accidents. Check in advance if they can handle an increase in demand, and always let them know if you anticipate a decrease in the demand for their product. This way, you can encourage friendly cooperation and ensure you are kept informed of any sudden developments.
5. Hire a good logistics manager
No one can do everything by themselves, and good employees are always valuable. That is why you should try your best to find and hire a logistics manager who excels at their job. They can help you smooth out wrinkles such as delivery routes, the best places for your warehouses, and streamline contact with suppliers. They might even be able to help you cut down on unnecessary expenses. These things will directly be reflected in the efficiency of your company’s work as a whole, thereby reducing chain lead times and allowing you to turn a better profit.
6. Anticipate customer demand
You might not feel confident enough to make predictions about future customer demand. This is quite normal. So, you will need to hire a professional to analyze the consumer data you have access to. This way, you can preemptively place certain orders so that, even if you do face unavoidable delays, you can stay ahead and be ready to offer your merchandise on the market. You might hesitate when faced with the additional expenses of hiring a good analyst, but if things work out, you stand to increase your profits considerably. Staying ahead of the market and leading trends is always profitable.
7. Change your shipping methods
If you notice consistent problems with your supply chain lead times, yet can’t find any issues with your suppliers, then you should consider looking into the shipping methods you are currently using. Favoring slower but cheaper methods when starting out is okay. However, once your business expands and there is more interest in your product, you might find such a system flagging. So, consider switching to a more modern solution. This can also help increase the safety of your shipments. Alternatively, you can try to place your orders more frequently in smaller batches instead of delaying them to order in bulk.
This marks the end of our guide on 7 ways to reduce supply chain lead times. We hope you have found it helpful and informative. Just remember: always have alternatives for your suppliers, communicate with them properly, look to the future to anticipate customer demands, and do not hesitate to modernize your shipping methods.
John Davis has worked for Heart Moving, NYC for the last five years, and has extensive knowledge of moving and transporting goods. He also works as a freelance blogger, and loves sharing his knowledge on the subjects he is familiar with. He always feels inspired by the thought that his advice can help someone else.