7 Biggest supply chain mistakes & how to solve them
You could be one of the most seasoned merchandisers and yet you could fall for some common supply chain mistakes. Often these result in inflated costs, poor workforce management, sub-optimal processes, delays in fulfillment, and lots of confusion and errors. It is necessary that these mistakes are brought under the scanner and fixed before they leave a severe dent on the business growth.
Below we discuss 7 common mistakes that need immediate attention.
1. Choosing too many tech vendors
It could be quite tempting to implement multiple tech solutions from different vendors, considered experts or specialists, at multiple stages of the supply chain. However, this can result in creation of silos, and a lack of coordination among different processes especially if there are separate screens to track the progress of each stage. Multiple dashboards require extensive coordination and great resource time in management, it affects inventory visibility and reduces clarity, leading to a fragmented workflow.
Instead of installing separate tech solutions to monitor individual processes e.g. OMS, WMS, Returns Management, etc. within a warehouse, it is beneficial to find the right tech partner with a single comprehensive solution to ensure seamless workflow and inventory accuracy. A single view of inventory provides one source of truth and ensures transparency within the warehouse to boost efficiency by making coordination between different arms of retail operations easier.
2. Inappropriate use of data
Making the maximum use of data is crucial to take accurate supply chain decisions, cutting costs, and ensuring the right products reach the right customer clusters. Inaccurate analysis or working manually on tedious Excel worksheets can lead to incorrect interpretations and missed sales opportunities.
Install algorithm-based, intelligent merchandising solutions that automated decision-making to minimize human intervention, offer quick decisions, and ensure accurate merchandise planning, buying, and allocation. By drilling down analysis to the individual store level, decision-making becomes highly granular and accurate. This also enables brands to shelve the right stock at the right store in the right quantity, thus avoiding over or under-stocking and capturing sales effectively.
3. Ill inventory health in stores
Fashion brands are especially sensitive to the health of the inventory in stores because the demand changes rapidly with seasons and trends. With expanding business requirements, brands could overlook the importance of keeping the right stock, in the right quantity, at the right location, and at the right time. This leads to problems like aging stock, leftover stock, and inadequate size and style. Stock brokenness can lead to the unavailability of popular styles and a significant loss of sales.
Ensure you conduct an accurate demand forecast for the upcoming season and regularly replenish the stores to meet in-season demand spikes. Pull back slow-moving inventory to make space for better-performing styles. By maintaining the health of the inventory, you also minimize the possibility of running out of popular styles. Investing in good inventory management software enables you to minimize human errors, streamline merchandising, and maintain a healthy inventory.
4. Poor cost management strategies
A number of poor management practices can lead to an unnecessary increase in costs. This starts with the overproduction of goods which overshoots the estimated market demand causing overstocking, obsolescence, and wastage. A mismatch in supply and market demand can cause wastage or shortage, and subsequently a rise in transportation costs due to in-season redistribution. As brands expand their territorial footprint, ordering from a faraway centralized warehouse can become costly. Likewise, investing in warehouse infrastructure where you hope the demand would increase, also means unnecessarily blocking precious resources.
Use data-backed solutions to accurately forecast demand for a particular customer cluster. Merchandising solutions can help you stock the right styles and sizes for each market, ensuring zero wastage. With distributed warehousing and collaboration with 3PL partners, you can avoid investing in warehousing infrastructure, and convert your CAPEX into OPEX. Likewise, with regional utilization brands can ensure that most of their orders are fulfilled locally, and transportation costs are reduced dramatically.
New-age technology solutions like Increff Cloud Warehousing, enable automation and offer a simple UX/UI to avoid the need for costly and time-consuming training. This increases the fungibility of your manpower and reduces dependency on expensive skilled labor.
5. Single delivery service
Brands that focus only on one sales channel (say a website or social media) and develop myopia for all the others are likely to face the heat of intense competition. This is because customers are increasingly looking for quick fulfillment and ease of delivery from multiple points of contact with the brand. Brands which are unable to rise up to this new trend are likely to become irrelevant as omnichannel begins to dominate order fulfillment.
Create a walled garden of brand touch-points and experiences around your customers. Adopting omnichannel fulfillment and the latest fulfillment practices such as BOPIS, curbside pickup, or in-store pickup, enhances customer convenience and satisfaction. Omnichannel is also a cost-effective practice as it enables the brands to choose the most economical option to deliver goods to the customer.
6. Inefficient returns management
Brands could commit the mistake of ignoring their returns management as an auxiliary function of their supply chain. This can cause delays in returns logistics, slowing down of resale, stockpiling and obsolescence, or in-transit damage. Lacking the data about the reasons for return or the most repeatedly returned items could lead to regular repetition of past mistakes.
Have an automation-based returns management solution in place that will streamline the entire returns process. It enables you to sort and grade the returned goods, resell the good stock, and redirect the refurbished stock to the secondary market. This minimizes waste and enables brands to earn maximum value from the returned goods. Serialization enables 100% tracking of inventory and capturing the exact reason for returns in the barcode. Repeatedly returned products can be easily quarantined, analyzed, and removed from circulation to prevent unnecessary expenditure.
7. Excess discounting to clear stock
Discounting could seem like the easiest way out to clear the stock at the end of the season, or during periods of slow sales. However, excess and indiscriminate discounting don’t just impact your margins, it also affects your brand image. Excessive discounting dilute the reputation of your brand and your customers may find it hard to trust the pricing of your products in the future.
Increff Markdown optimization solution enables brands to offer the right percentage of discount, just tipping the balance towards conversions, and preventing an excess drop in margin. This depends upon the ongoing performance of an item and the status of its inventory.
The mistakes discussed above could cost your business dearly as the intensely competitive marketplace of today leaves very little room for inefficiencies. Brands, therefore, need to plug all the possible loopholes and ensure the highest possible efficiency in their supply chain processes.