Supply chain · 27 August 2015

How to streamline your supply chain

Thoroughly checking your labels is a simple yet effective way of streamlining your supply chain
Thoroughly checking your labels is a simple yet effective way of streamlining your supply chain

FedEx’s David Poole discusses how a supply chain becomes too long and too complicated, and what steps you can take to ensure your business doesn’t suffer because of too complex a supply chain.

When transporting goods domestically or internationally, a streamlined supply chain is important to helping a company grow and succeed. That being said, logistics is more than simply transporting goods from A to B and businesses of all sizes, often find this process complex. Logistics is a solution for bringing real value to a supply chain, ensuring the right product arrives at the right place and at the right time. It is about access; access to a solid integrated supply chain, access to new markets anywhere in the world and access to new revenue streams. It’s about maximising your business’ potential in the complex marketplace we live in and there are numerous elements involved to help micro businesses achieve this.

Globalisation may have diminished the relative distance between nations, in an abstract sense, but physical distance is still a reality for businesses looking to transport goods and is why an efficient supply chain is ever more important. As a micro business owner, there’s a world of opportunity in today’s international marketplace, as businesses are no longer disadvantaged by size or economy of scale. Yet, with any sized business, meeting increasing international demand can place a strain on operations and is why delivery and an emphasis on streamlining each stage, so supply chains do not become too complicated is hugely important.

I’ve compiled three simple ways to help your business streamline its supply chain:

(1) Improve your visibility

Visibility is fundamental to operations when it comes to sending time sensitive goods, so make sure you take advantage of a range of tracking options. In order to meet increasing customer demand, it’s important to monitor and track your shipments throughout each stage of the supply chain to their final destination. Utilising such tracking services will notify you of any potential delays before the customer does, and enable you to keep them updated on the situation. This is an essential aspect of avoiding any potential disappointment and ensuring repeat custom.

(2) Label it right

When processing orders it is worth double-checking everything, but especially the labels. When using a shipping label or airway bill, be sure to fill it out completely and accurately. If using a pouch, ensure the peel-off strip has been removed and the flap is firmly sealed. Place labels or pouches on the largest surface of the box, avoiding corners, edges, and seams. Inclement weather can sometimes streak or remove shipping labels, so always put an extra shipping label, business card, or letterhead with the shipper and recipient’s address information inside your box, before sealing things up. A way to help streamline this vital stage is to implement an IT shipping solution to generate labels at the point of sale, such as the FedEx Ship Manager.

(3) Make the most of your logistics provider

You may have a logistics provider in place, but when you start shipping internationally ensure you get the best out of them to meet your business’ needs. Lean on your logistics provider to help with increased shipments, along with general business advice and guidance. From technology, to warehouse shipping solutions to help with trading overseas, they are a vital source of information and are on hand to help.

Whether it’s the physical movement of goods, monitoring inventories in different places or securing access to new locations, there is a whole host of information in play throughout the supply chain. Ultimately, working effectively with your logistics provider and gaining guidance can help add value to your company, while enabling you to better manage your supply chain. They can help identify and rectify customer challenges and can allow you to find out where customer packages are at any time and how long it will take to reach their destination. All of this ultimately equips you to better manage your inventories as well as your business.

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David Poole is managing director of sales, UK South at FedEx Express and FedEx UK. FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every US address, as well as more than 220 countries and territories.