It has now been one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. To say that it has been a challenging time is an understatement. Disruptions and restrictions were common. Shortages and delays were the norm. Moving forward, those companies that have found ways to adapt will thrive. A focus on the areas discussed below will become even more valuable as circumstances continue to change.
It’s no secret that managing warehousing expenses has always been tricky for COOs and supply chain managers. What happens when your warehouse is reaching capacity? Do you build, relocate or outsource your fulfillment needs?
Space doesn't come cheap and can't easily be expanded in small increments. When a company decides to build new warehouse, it typically must build more than it presently needs. In the near-term, much of the new capacity will probably sit empty. On the other hand, space limitations will cap your company's potential revenue or potentially create safety issues for your associates. In both instances, something must change.
How do you strike a balance between current warehousing needs, anticipated future warehousing needs and justifying the projected budget? If you’re looking to expand, follow these steps to determine if it’s time to outsource your fulfillment needs.
With e-commerce fulfillment centers facing down a proverbial tide of year-end business, productivity and efficiency soar to the top of managers' wish lists. How do you fulfill your e-commerce orders and give these must-have gifts to your managers? Here are five ways to prepare for the winter storm of orders without breaking a sweat or investing in expensive new warehouse technology:
A goal-oriented supply chain is a focused series of connected modules - raw materials to components, components to manufacturing and so on. When the initial approach amounts to what is essentially a collection of moving parts, it seems reasonable to apply solutions the same way: piecemeal. However well this may work for each individual module, that success is at the cost of a greater supply chain strategy - one that embraces a top-down approach and encourages that all-important trait of transparency. Considering today's increased demand for transparency from both the consumer side and that of your trading partners, it's not a facet your company can afford to let slip.
With fulfillment centers facing down a proverbial tide of year-end business, productivity and efficiency soar to the top of managers' wish lists. Eager to receive these must-have gifts for your company? Here are five ways to prepare for the winter storm of orders without breaking a sweat or investing in expensive new warehouse technology:
While the fulfillment industry continues to maintain a warranted focus on the truck driver shortage, they may be missing a similar crisis under their own roof: a growing fulfillment center talent shortage. Much like the carrier shortages, warehouses are losing workers to retirement and position-shifting, and the talent pool is proving sluggish to refill. It's critical that managers are being proactive to make sure you aren't left with unexpected gaps in your workforce during a crucial sales period.
As many children excitedly await the arrival of the holidays and a new cache of must-have toys, supply chain managers are steeling themselves for the rush that inevitably comes on the heels of November and December. With the fulfillment center facing down a proverbial tide of year-end business, productivity and efficiency soar to the top of managers' wish lists. Eager to receive these must-have gifts for your company? Here are five ways to batten down the hatches and take on the winter storm of orders without breaking a sweat or investing in expensive new warehouse tech:
Supply chain processes are inexorably tied to consumer demands. As those demands have increased in volume and frequency, fulfillment specialists have found themselves in a constant loop of innovation and evolution by necessity. For those already whose years in the industry have accustomed them to a certain methodology, this growth is difficult enough, but not impossible. For newcomers still learning supply chain strategy, however, it can be a dizzying prospect just trying to find their footing. Supply chain managers are responsible for stabilizing that entrance process, and that starts with finding the right candidates and training them in the right skills.
Although it has roots in ancient seafaring trade routes and caravans, the supply chain is one of the most advanced and constantly evolving facets of business. Forced to contend with new challenges that appear alongside new innovations, the supply chain is anything but "business as usual." Supply chain strategy needs to not only contend with daily operational issues, but also needs to devote time and energy to anticipating bumps in the road in the weeks, months and even years ahead.
Realistically, every new hire you bring into your team will need training. However, this doesn't mean that each potential hire starts off on even footing: Even innate skill rarely holds up to proper education in a given industry. In the fast-moving world of supply chain management, this hard-earned knowledge is exponentially more important. The speed of innovation doesn't give existing managers a lot of breathing room to extensively train others. How can companies ensure that they're adding the right people without costly trial and error? By plucking their talent from the fertile grounds of established university graduates.
Business methods have changed, the market has changed, and even the products and services within that market have evolved. Believing that your supply chain team will remain a static constant isn't sound supply chain strategy. Not only have expectations toed the line of scope creep as a strategy rather than an obstacle, the "new blood" being infused into your workforce has personal growth demands you need to be ready to satisfy for retention's sake. Training isn't just a function of job efficiency and safety anymore -- today's supply chain professional wants to earn their way to the top through learning. Here's how to be an employer worthy of loyalty, rather than a paycheck:
How does your company approach risk in the supply chain? For many companies, risk is considered after the fact—a facet of problem solving, rather than a guiding principle in supply chain strategy creation. But what happens when you put risk front and center in not just your supply chain planning, but your business strategy?
Supply chain risk management has, historically, been the purview of managers who have been focused on streamlining processes within the supply chain. However, a company that has a dedicated risk management professional who has insight into how “leaps of faith” impact not just the supply chain, but the company as a whole is uniquely positioned to leverage risk.
You've got a lot of responsibilities to shoulder every day you walk through the door, but you know that comes with the position. You get through it most days, but sometimes you feel like you’re just stumbling along or struggling to find your motivation, particularly during a busy period. That's natural and expected, but it doesn't mean you can't prepare for it.
Supply chain efficiency doesn't spring from nothing—it requires negotiating with suppliers, real time coordination of deliveries and on-the-fly ideas and modifications to cut down on lag. Personal efficiency needs just as much attention to succeed, but where do you start? Try these suggestions to maximize your efficiency as a supply chain professional:
The supply chain is all about links and fulfillment, but sometimes busy supply chain professionals neglect their own personal and professional links and career fulfillment. It's crucial to build a solid personal and professional “chain” of acquaintances that can help your career flourish and/or your business grow through sales and partnerships.
A lively network of online and offline connections gives you a healthy pool of potential future employers and/or customers. Networking helps you showcase your expertise and become more influential in the industry, and our 5 tips can help you up your networking game.
The recent growth in our economy is bringing staffing challenges to industries of all kinds. As more and more jobs open up, the competition for the best workers grows. This is particularly true for those in the fulfillment industry. Why? Because of the recent boom in e-commerce sales.
According to the May 2015 report, "Quarterly Retail E-commerce Sales," released by the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the first three months of 2015 accounted for more than $80 million in revenue. More importantly, while total retail sales for the same quarter had dropped 1.5 percent from the last three months of 2014, e-commerce sales saw an increase of 3.5 percent. When compared with the same quarter in 2014, e-commerce sales had increased by 14.5 percent, while retail sales as a whole for that same period saw only a 1.6 percent increase.
Your company counts on you to make the right decisions, from long term planning and risk mitigation to in-the-moment judgment calls on fulfillment. While you may feel confident and competent in your position, you can only access that expertise if you give your body the rest and downtime it needs to function at its peak. If you're a working machine that virtually runs on a steady stream of coffee and adrenaline, it may be time to reassess your approach to life both in and out of the office.
While there is a wealth of discussion on business efforts such as marketing, R&D and sales, ultimately a company is only as strong as its fulfillment center. In fact, without supply chain efficiency, the most clever ad campaigns, new and improved products or client rosters wouldn't be able to lift the bottom line.
If you're not an integral part of C-Suite conversations in your company already, it's time to claim your place at the table and start explaining what your team offers and what they need to offer it efficiently. Here's a few ways to work your way into the C-Suite:
The idea that a "good" supply chain manager never stops working, or at least thinking about work, is persistent, but ultimately wrong. It drives talented professionals to obsess over supply chain efficiency and turns what should be a relaxing day off into a restless, bit-chomping wait to get back to the office. Even if you don't ascribe to this particular notion, you may struggle to leave work at your desk instead of mentally bringing it back home with you.
Here are a few ways you can reclaim your "me" time in a work-centric world.
While it's easy to let workflow processes shoulder all of the responsibility of supply chain efficiency, the fact remains that the human element of fulfillment is just as important as the numbers and equations that support the bottom line. Motivated employees translate to better work ethics and, in time, an increase in overall efficiency. As an already-busy manager focused on meeting fulfillment goals on time, devoting extra attention to your team can be a struggle.
Here's how to maximize the time and effort you have at your disposal.
A ticking clock is the most overbearing boss you'll ever contend with in your career, demanding you accomplish as much supply chain efficiency as possible in the shortest amount of time. When you find yourself unable to add additional time to your schedule and equally stumped for meetings and tasks to cut out of it, it's time to re-prioritize.
According to Neil Patel of Inc.com, you should put your trust in the Pareto principle, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort, and focus on making that 20% as pure and productive as possible. Here are a few time management tips that will help even the busiest supply chain professional spruce up their efforts to be more efficient.