3 valuable lessons learned from your supply chain’s operations over the holidays

With the great holiday rush over, retailers finally have a breather, at least until tax season hits. But besides panicking about tax forms, the beginning of January is also a time for reflection on how the past year worked out for your business.

A very important task is to look at how well your supply chain performed over the holiday rush. If possible, examine each part of the supply chain carefully to find out if there’s any room for improvement.

Lessons you learn from past experiences will form the basis for future supply chain improvements, so it’s essential that you closely examine your processes.

These lessons you learn from past experiences will form the basis for future supply chain improvements, so it’s essential that you closely examine your processes.

However, we know that supply chains are vast and complicated creatures. Here are a few key pointers to help guide your examinations.

Forecast

Forecasting your needs is essential for keeping an up-to-date inventory. If your forecasts are inaccurate (or non-existent), you may run out of inventory, or end up with shelf after shelf of unwanted products.

Luckily, you don’t need a crystal ball to get accurate forecasts. Ask yourself the right questions, do your calculations accordingly, or even enlist the help of forecasting software, and you’ll end up with a decent forecast and an appropriate inventory.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Once orders start rolling in, check the accuracy of your forecasts. While you can do last-minute adjustments to inventory as you go, don’t forget to examine the whole forecasting process once the holiday rush is over.

Channel your findings into your next forecasts to get an even more spot-on inventory in the future.

Logistics

Getting products from one place to another is the hardest part of supply chain management, especially if great distances or international borders are involved. Glitches, delays, or even misunderstandings are sometimes unavoidable.

This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. For example, let’s assume your shipment got stranded for days at an international border because of a national holiday in the other country. The next time you order from that country or your shipment needs to pass through it, you can check whether they have a national holiday coming up.

Similarly, educate yourself about fast international payments, customs, procedures, taxes, fees, and anything else that may prevent your shipment to travel as fast as possible.

Educate yourself about fast international payments, customs, procedures, taxes, fees, and anything else that may prevent your shipment to travel as fast as possible.

Another aspect you need to consider is your service providers. Depending on the origin of products, the geography concerned, and the distance your supplies need to travel, you have to select the perfect carrier(s) for your supplies.

Once the holiday rush is over, check out how well your carriers performed. If you’re dissatisfied with their service or their price, don’t be afraid to look around for a new carrier.

Suppliers

The holiday rush is like a giant supplier exam. The significantly increased demand requires perfect supplier performance for an extended amount of time. And while nobody can be perfect all the time, you’ll be able to see which suppliers have your back and which ones aren’t reliable.

The odd mistake can slip into the work of even the best suppliers. There’s no need to go to battle over one delayed shipment. But if you see a pattern of problems, it’s time to have a talk with the supplier in question.

You don’t have to tolerate continuous bad performance; sometimes it’s better to sever ties and look for new business partners.

Conclusion

Despite your busy schedule, don’t skip the evaluation process of your supply chain. While it may seem tedious at first, you gain valuable information that can save your business time and money in the long run.