According to the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, wholesale distribution accounts for almost $5.7 trillion. In the era of companies like Amazon, many supply chains find themselves evolving to meet the demands of a changing industry. From logistics to inventory, it may be time to take a hard look at what’s working and where you could find additional efficiencies by making changes. Here are nine questions you should be asking if you work in supply chain management:
Q: What can technology do for you?
A: Utilizing the right technology can help you find efficiencies and streamline processes. Machine learning and adaptive artificial intelligence (AI) are part of many new inventory management systems (IMS) and warehouse management systems (WMS). Some of these platforms even allow for mobile components to help you quickly update inventory from the warehouse floor. It also gives you a centralized inventory log, which helps your warehouse manager work more effectively with suppliers. Using a mobile integrated system also allows your sales team to see real-time numbers when dealing with clients. Although the benefits of these systems are clear, according to a 2018 survey, nearly 35% of companies have yet to implement them.
Q: Are you using data to its full advantage?
A: Understanding the data your WMS and IMS are collecting about your company is another way to make sure you are prepared for the future of the industry. You can analyze your monthly reports to identify trends and also see areas where you need to adjust orders and processes.
Q: How are changes in tariffs, regulations and compliance affecting your business?
A: Changes to import and export tariffs, new compliance requirements and new regulations all impact your bottom line. Staying on top of developments as they occur can help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to being forward-focused.
Q: Are you planning ahead?
A: It’s not enough to find something that works and leave it to run itself. Business in today’s world evolves quickly – to stay relevant, you might need to look for ways to improve efficiencies, manage resources and keep up with trends.
Q: Do you look for new opportunities and keep an eye on businesses moving into your area?
A: Many companies are opening satellite offices (or even new offices) in Florida – do you keep tabs on industries coming into your distribution area? Those new facilities will need supplies, and you may be able to build new relationships that help your business grow.
Q: Are you aware of any industry changes that could impact your business plan or bottom line?
A: It’s not enough to look for growth opportunities; you should also keep an eye on things that could impact your business in less positive ways, such as market consolidation. Being aware can help you adjust as needed to keep your business running smoothly.
Q: Is your inventory optimized?
A: Because inventory plays a big role in your business, knowing what you have, and when to restock, is a good way to keep the company running at a profit. Using all the tools at your disposal — technology, data and reports — can help you identify what’s moving quickly off the warehouse floor and what’s being left on the shelves.
Q: Are your distribution centers in the right place?
A: When looking at ways to streamline your supply chain, it may also help to look at the logistics side of things. This includes making sure your distribution centers are located where they can operate most effectively for your company. You should consider their ease of access for transportation vendors, whether they’re customizable for your business’s changing needs, and if they help meet supplier and purchaser demand.
Q: What are you doing to ensure strong supplier relationships?
A: As markets shift and demand changes, it’s crucial to maintain strong relationships with your suppliers. Knowing what trends they’ve identified and where their pain points are can help you plan for the future as well as build a network you can trust when it counts.
At Seacoast Bank, we’re here to help. If you have questions about the financial side of your business, or want to know more about solutions we offer for business banking, payroll and more, visit seacoastbank.com or call us at 888.669.4050.