Thought Leadership

Spring Cleaning Your Supply Chain

It’s almost that time of year again where we get the lawn equipment and the vacuum to give our homes a good clean inside and out, but isn’t it about time we did the same with our supply chains?

Spring Cleaning Your Supply Chain

The new fiscal year gives logistics and supply chain professionals a chance to look at all of our operations and processes. This organizational review should start with looking at existing staff and making sure their talents are being properly used. Take some time to speak with your department heads directly. If your fulfillment lead has to step away from the desk and work on the floor most days, it could be a good time to shift resources and increase staff.

The Spring is also a great time to run through your processes one by one. Set aside enough time to review your workflow and the systems that pass information along as you move forward. Take note of these and see if you can extend a transportation or warehouse management tool by integrating it with your suppliers or partners.

Where you’re using third-party tools or services, get your IT vendor or 3PL to help you evaluate your options. If they can save you money, they will. Working closely with them builds trust and helps to ensure you’re both satisfied and plan to continue the relationship.

Inventory Rollover

Most companies end up shifting some inventory as the seasons change. Some are busy storing winter goods for later in the year while others may try to sell off or even liquidate inventory that won’t last. What you do with this inventory is a good way to judge the organization of your existing warehouse structure.

Moving old inventory into storage can help reduce your costs and free up the space you need if you’re running a lean operation. The question is where to house this space and if it’s worth keeping. If your company already has a judgment system in place, let it work and monitor its success. The goal of reducing costs per SKU is the big picture, but sometimes it can be best achieved when you’re donating old inventory and saving on warehousing costs.

For inventory you’re keeping, make sure your labels and SKUs are properly up-to-date. Maintaining an accurate accounting of what you have in storage can mean the difference between a great and a rocky start to your fall promotions. Every SKU costs you money. Knowing what you have is the best way to keep on top of expected costs and make sure every product can still contribute to growing your revenue.

Understanding Audits

One of the most common review tactics is the audit. Audits are a review of a product and a process, but not the people involved in your supply chain. This means that they’re a strong tool but you need to take additional measures to verify that your supply chain is running smoothly and keeping abreast of international laws.

The key to selecting your auditing tool is first defining your need. The most common audit we’ll be entering this year is around integrating environmental figures into supply chain audits and overall supply chain tracking.

Environmental tracking relates back to ethical practices because it signals a commitment to the planet. This plays well with customers and vendors, but it also plays well with the wallet. Reducing waste, especially energy, also has strong ties to increasing overall productivity and encouraging a culture of cost-savings. Savings comes not only from reducing energy costs but also mitigating risk.

When it comes to spring cleaning your operations, it will take effort and a lot of coordination to open up your supply chain for a full review. While difficult, it’s the best way to give your supply chain a fresh and clean look with a strong bottom line.