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Solve 5 common supply chain issues threatening your shipping business

06.18.2021 | By Peter Frys | 5 min. read

Don’t let a single slip-up derail your entire operation. Design a sleeker, smarter shipping business by avoiding these five common supply chain risks.

Some days, supply chain management (SCM) can feel like herding cats. It’s a hectic, frantic dance of data that often leads to overwhelm and confusion. When your business operates on a global level, just one small error in the supply chain can unravel everything.

In an ideal world, your supply chain goes through several phases: 

But one failure at any point in the global supply chain can lead to multiple problems down the line. It’s not unusual for one small error to cause thousands of dollars in losses. With so many opportunities for failure, your business needs supply chain optimization to prevent headaches and stay profitable. Here are solutions to five common supply chain problems.

1. Too many manual tasks

Over 60% of companies don’t use any software to manage their supply chains. Is your team still doing most of your supply chain tasks manually? When efficiency and accuracy are business goals, leave paperwork and manual data entry behind.  

When you stick with manual systems, you’re trapping much-needed data in file and email folders where you can’t access it. If a machine can do a task better and faster than a human, let the machine do the work! Your human team members are incredibly valuable; use their talents for more strategic work to speed up your supply chain network.

The solution

Use information technology and machine learning for order automation, inventory management, shipping updates, and more. Automation will allow you to take more orders at scale and save your team the stress of manually performing tasks.

2. Single points of failure

The thing is, your supply chain works as a whole. If any of its components fail, your business will falter. Unfortunately, most supply chain managers don’t identify single points of failure until it’s too late. Just one error can cause a mountain of other problems in your business, so that’s why you need to audit your supply chain for weaknesses. 

The solution

What is your supply chain missing? Are there any kinks in your flow of goods? Take a proactive approach here to address any oversights before they cost you time and money. 

This means: 

  • Identifying vendor and employee errors
  • Diversifying where you source your materials and products
  • Tracking supply chain key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics 
  • Regularly auditing your supply chain
  • Monitoring inventory levels 
  • Revamping your warehouse management practices

You have to identify a problem before you can fix it. Prevent supply chain issues down the line by being proactive before incidents cause permanent damage. Plus, a strong supply chain gives you a big competitive advantage against other retailers.

3. Siloed information systems and data

Can you see your supply chain all in one place? Or, do you have to log into separate platforms, access different spreadsheets and consult your team before you can get a clear picture? 

The biggest mistake supply chain professionals make is siloing their supply chain data. If you don’t have the right data (or any data at all), you can’t fix glaring problems in the supply chain until it’s too late. Integrate your data in one place so you can take meaning from that data for better resource planning. That means treating the supply chain as the system that it is instead of a series of one-off tasks. 

The solution

Software is an easy fix for data woes. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software will give you real-time insights into your supply chain, offering raw data that will help your team take care of business faster. Do better procurement, forecasting, and operations management with the right data on your side.

4. Lack of visibility

Where are your products and shipments right now? If you aren’t tracking your inventory, you have no idea where your goods are, how much you have in stock, or where they are in transit. This lack of visibility can lead to product spoilage, stock outages, and overproduction, all of which can have a negative effect on your bottom line. 

The solution

Proper supply chain planning requires tracking solutions that give you end-to-end visibility into a product’s life cycle. Flock Freight® helps retailers get even more visibility with smart tracking updates, ensuring you always know where your freight is and when it will arrive. The more visibility you have, the easier it is to plan for the future.

5. Damages and delays

Some damages and delays are within your control, like those that arise from poor packaging and scheduling. Other damages and delays are unavoidable, like those that arise from storms and pandemics. Let’s focus on controllable factors here.

Using proper packaging and building in scheduling buffers increase your chances of delivering on time and intact. A single late delivery or broken product can ruin your customers’ experience. Plus, damaged goods are an expensive — and preventable — drain on your resources. With increasing fuel costs, higher customer demand, and skyrocketing freight needs, you can’t afford to remanufacture, then reship your products or risk late delivery. 

The solution

What if you could prevent damage and delay from the start by choosing a hubless freight mode? Flock Freight’s shared truckload (STL) solution gives you predictable shipping times and full control over your pickup and delivery dates. Additionally, STL freight incurs significantly less damage than LTL shipments because shared truckloads don’t pass through terminals or hubs. Our optimized routes save you time, money, and headaches. Don’t pay the price of preventable supply chain issues like delays and damages.

Better logistics management for better business

You’re under a lot of pressure to get your products in consumers’ hands faster and cheaper. Effective supply chain management won’t just make your supply chain more reliable, it will make your business more resilient. Future-proof your operation against these five common supply chain risks to come out ahead. Over time, you’ll learn how to bounce back fast from disruptions and run a tight ship.

Work with Flock Freight to see how a reputable logistics partner can help you manage your supply chain.