- Sonja Lunan
SMALL BUSINESSES: Navigating Inventory Supply Chain Issues
The supply chain crisis has had a global effect on our economy, causing delays, shortages and price increases. Businesses are faced with low stock or often run out of stock completely as a result. A staggering 89% of small businesses in Canada have been affected by these supply chain challenges. This not only puts strain on the business and their clients but also on the economy as a whole. Now more than ever, it is crucial for small businesses to find strategies to build a resilient supply chain in order to minimize delays and remain profitable.
Managing your inventory is the first step in beginning to build a resilient supply chain. This may seem obvious but keeping a close eye on inventory can make a huge difference. Evaluate your current inventory management system and see how you can make improvements so that it can run as smoothly as possible. This means being on top of what is low stock, ordering ahead and ordering more stock than usual especially when it comes to best selling or frequently used items.
Take time to invest in this process and make sure that you and your team are prioritizing your inventory management so that everyone is on the same page. This might mean taking extra time to train and educate your staff on the importance of staying on top of counts and putting in orders earlier than usual.
Another option is exploring different inventory management tools. In the long run this could save your business time and money in comparison to keeping inventory manually. There are plenty of software tools available that help with managing stock levels, order management, reporting and analytics and even warehouse management. QuickBooks offers inventory management and many other options are available depending on your businesses needs.
The next important step is to evaluate your relationships with your suppliers. It is crucial to explore options when it comes to suppliers. Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating your current suppliers are,
Are they able to meet my targets?
Are their prices reflective of the service provided?
How is their communication? Are they transparent with my business, in regards to delays and price increases?
Once you have reflected on these elements, there are a few courses of action depending on the answers. If the answer is no to some or all of these questions it might be time to sit down with your supplier and discuss if they will be able to meet your needs.
There are many benefits to diversifying suppliers. This helps to build a resilient supply chain to ensure you are receiving product on time and at a fair cost.
Some things to consider when meeting with suppliers,
Be transparent; about your targets, deadlines and goals
Tell them about the nature of your business; this helps suppliers to understand your businesses needs so they can tell if they will be a good fit or not.
Transparency with Customers
Building trust with customers is essential in nurturing brand loyalty. The general public is aware of issues with supply chains however it is important to communicate to your customers how this issues are effecting your business specifically. Let your customers know what delays, low stock and/or price increases to expect.
Being transparent about these topics will show your customers that you value them and their time. If you are honest and informative with your customers about the reality of the supply chain crisis you will be able to manage their expectations.