It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. Selling, whether in stores or online, has seen tremendous change recently. Not only are products increasing at unimaginable speed, but the technology and processes used to bring them to the public are more innovative. Consumers having abundant choices brings stiff competition but also great opportunities. Those manufacturers and distributors who can adapt their supply chain and replenishment strategies to meet the challenges will come out on top.
Maintaining the proper amount of inventory and keeping it moving to your customers is one of the challenges. As we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic, retailers need to be able to adapt quickly as demands and trends ebb and flow.
Our team at ArcherPoint’s hosted a discussion about how retailers are adapting their strategies to meet unpredictable demands and conditions:
7 ways to adapt your supply chain and replenishment strategies:
1. Work closely with your suppliers
A good relationship with your suppliers is mutually beneficial. They are also dealing with challenges and adapting as necessary. You need to be able to pivot when they pivot and adjust when required. Covid buying has seen some products come to the fore while the demand for others receded. Who could have predicted the wholesale and retail food market changes brought about by Covid fears and restrictions? Good communication with your suppliers will help you monitor their operations and be ready to act as conditions change. You may need to adjust your shipping requirements and perhaps temporarily reduce inventory, widen delivery windows, or renegotiate payment terms. Being willing to adapt will help ensure you receive your deliveries during critical shopping times.
2. Be flexible with merchandising
Another challenge is making the most of the inventory you have on hand. Now into the second year of Covid disruptions is not the time to put your business on autopilot. You need to make conscious, informed decisions. Determine what inventory is moving and, if you have multiple outlets, where it moves the fastest. Look not just at the overall movement of products but also the activity within each store. Seeing the movement of specific products (or categories) and precisely where they’re moving can tell you a lot about how you should distribute the inventory you already have, thus guarding against any shipping delays.
3. Support your employees
If some locations closed during the pandemic, perhaps you could shift the staff you already have to other assignments. You could reassign workers to warehouse or customer service positions. Some jobs might lend themselves to working remotely from home.
You might need to increase wages temporarily, but be creative. Think of what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Have a plan if employees can’t come in because of illness or childcare issues. Being prepared yet flexible is the key to maintaining production.
4. Work to capacity
You’ll want to be able to transport and contain stock in anticipation of demand. Look at inventory by store location. Perhaps one of the stores can serve as a hub. If you don’t have your own delivery system, be sure to cultivate relationships with reliable services. Trucking services are busier than ever, so find some that are still service-oriented and reliable. You might have to change your returns policy to be more flexible for customers who could be ordering online for the first time. Make it easy for your customers to buy from your company, and you’ll earn their loyalty.
5. Don’t forget fulfillment
Now more than ever, it’s essential to focus on fulfillment. Customers need to know they can rely on you to deliver their products quickly. Reevaluate your routes. Some locations might be closed but have inventory that could be used elsewhere to fulfill orders. Other locations might be overwhelmed with traffic and have trouble keeping inventory on the shelves. You need a delivery platform with built-in intelligence (AI). Your solution can suggest optimal routes and delivery slots and keep on top of rapidly changing conditions.
6. Stay on top of replenishment
Today there is powerful technology
7. Leverage your resources
To properly adjust your supply chain and replenishment strategy to accommodate changing conditions and demands, look both to technology and the power of your knowledge and experience. One more valuable component is your technology partner. You need a partner that understands retail and the technology that supports it. We can’t predict the unpredictable, but we can prepare so that we’re ready for change. Watch the entire webcast,