Why a strong supply chain is crucial to small business success

Image by Mike Flynn from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

Your supply chain is vital to the success of your small business. Being linear means that if any part of the chain becomes a weak link, the entire supply chain process suffers. For those individuals working to make goods, whether this is large scale or a smaller artisan craft enterprise, your supply chain should follow a plan using five key themes. These stages are Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, and Return. Take a look at how you can create a supply chain that maximizes the profits you can make.

Plan

Firstly, you need to plan your supply chain – are you going to make a component for your product or are you going to source it? This involves financial calculations, time constraints and capability management. If you are looking to source components, whether this is a screw, a hydraulic pipe or a sticker, you need to locate a range of potential suppliers. You also need to consider having more than one option so you don’t plan with all of your eggs in one basket. You also need to decide whether you are going to create the product yourself or outsource the manufacturing process. When you have your product, you also need to plan where you will store them.

Source

You could choose to use a sourcing agent like leelinesourcing if you are keen to look into a specific market such as the Far East and China. These agents will help you locate the most reliable source at the most reasonable price. Alternatively, you could go it alone and look across the globe for the best producer of your component. Don’t always go for the cheapest supplier and look at impartial reviews to help inform your decision.

Make

Manufacturing a product may be small scale or it may require staff to help you scale up. You may need to adhere to health and safety regulations. Communication strategies need to be implemented, and you must have a quality and assurance policy in place. Test your product through market research and heed the feedback of your potential customer base.

Deliver

When you are looking to get your product to your end-user, you should consider a policy of under-promising and over-delivering. By stating that you will have a product delivered in 72 hours and you have it on a doorstep in 48, you appear to be going the extra mile. By creating this illusion, you foster a positive attitude towards your company. You may need to look into courier fees and warehouse procedures. Your delivery process needs to be seamless and may involve yourself, haulers and the customer to create a seamless triangulation.

Return

Legally, you need to have a returns policy. If you have faith in your product, don’t be afraid of being generous with your returns policy. Thirty days is standard practice and shows your customer that you are willing to accommodate faults or damage. You may want to have an automated way of creating a returns label to make the process of returning an item an easier task to manage for customers.

A supply chain requires a lot of planning and thought initially. Get this right and you can hone all of the other stages so they link effectively. Ensure that each link is strong and your business will thrive.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

 

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