It would be hard to exaggerate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses around the world. With the abrupt shift in customer demands and the strict limitations placed on markets, countless companies that had been viable just months ago are now facing drastic cuts and uncertain futures. Supply chains have been severely strained, and the fallout has driven home some critical — and sometimes painful — lessons about procurement.
The importance of supply chains
A supply chain is simply the network of all the individuals, organizations, and resources involved in creating and selling a product. This process encompasses everything from delivering raw materials to the manufacturer to the sale and transportation to the end-user. With Covid-19 affecting all areas of supply chains, it’s easy to see why so many companies experienced severe disruptions to this critical business function. While some organizations were ready to adapt to the changing markets, many others are only now closely analyzing their supply chains — to understand obstacles and minimize future challenges.
Impact on small business
While global corporations struggling with these disruptions make headlines daily, small businesses have been severely impacted as well, dealing with everything from reduced revenues and inflated costs to cuts in market share, production issues and more.
But there are still steps that small businesses can take to mitigate potential supply chain disruptions moving forward.
Analyze your existing suppliers
It’s crucial to communicate with suppliers up front to get a real sense of the situation — such as any potential delays, new or adjusted lead times for supplies, and what options exist. Having a clear picture of your suppliers’ inventory and production schedule, plus a sense of where you stand in their order of priorities, allows you to make the best decision for your small business.
Relying on a single supplier creates a stumbling block for many small businesses. While relationships are important, especially in tough times, it’s easy to become too dependent on them. It’s essential to identify backup suppliers and vendors to maintain a consistent output flow. Disruption can be a good time to explore alternative options since other potential resources are likely looking for new business relationships as well.
Make sure your customers understand the situation
As we’ve seen over the past several months, periodic supply chain disruptions seem to represent a “new normal.” Clear communication is critical to navigating these challenges. Be honest with your customers and establish clear expectations about timelines and deliverables. However, the information you provide your customers will only be as reliable as the information you’re receiving from your suppliers. It’s important that you trust the source.
Keep extra stock on hand
Adding suppliers is not always feasible. Companies should decide how much stock they can realistically (and temporarily) hold to offset future disruptions. Of course, more inventory carries its own risks. Not only does it contradict the practice of maintaining lean inventories and utilizing “just-in-time” replenishment, but it also ties up valuable funds. Companies have to balance those risks against the very real and damaging effects of further crisis. We’ve already seen the impact of skyrocketing prices for materials that are in short supply – and the potential for lost time and revenue that come with it.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made companies around the world reexamine their existing supply chains. In many cases, this examination has revealed some telling vulnerabilities. Now is the time to address these issues to find ways to boost efficiency while also guarding against over-reliance on a single core resource or supplier. By finding ways to protect against future disruptions, we can turn challenges into opportunities and become more resilient moving forward.
Yes, preventing future supply chain disturbances can be an arduous undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be. At Gorgo Logistics, we help our clients find the right solutions — for themselves, for their customers, and their future.
Reach out today to learn how we can help your company be ready the next time uncertainty strikes.