It’s no secret that the supply chain has been experiencing issues that have caused delays and lack of inventory across the board. Dealing with supply chain issues is particularly difficult for small businesses as it can have a devastating effect on their operations and clientele.
Although it can be incredibly stressful to keep up with demand while the supply chain is struggling, there are a few things you can do to both mitigate issues in the short term and prepare for the future.
Managing in the Short Term
Not having stable access to the things you need to keep your business running is frustrating and can hit small businesses hard. Until things start to stabilize, here is what you can do now to fill in the gaps that are out of your control.
- Upgrade displays and promote existing inventory — Empty shelves, while not your fault, don’t give off the best first impression to customers. This is an opportunity to reconfigure shelving and adjust product displays to bring the items that are available to the forefront. Businesses who operate in eCommerce can draw attention to items that are in-stock and those that will ship swiftly prominently on their sites.
- Be honest with customers — It can feel uncomfortable to tell a customer to anticipate a long delay. However, setting realistic expectations with your customers instead of promising unachievable timelines will have a better outcome in the end. Your customers are the foundation of your business and being honest about available inventory will ultimately foster greater brand loyalty.
- Focus on customer service — Nearly every small business is dealing with supply chain issues, which presents a great opportunity to stand out from your competitors and offer above-and-beyond customer service. Sending notifications when items are restocked, offering alternative products and solutions, or adjusting operations to meet different needs are winning strategies.
Preparing for the Long Term
Although it’s likely you’re quite focused on managing the issues right in front of you, it’s also important to look ahead and prepare for what’s to come. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Diversify your supply chain — In order to keep your supply chain from future threats like this, it’s important to have some diversity. Instead of working with one supplier or manufacturer, work with a few or have a backup on hand if something goes wrong. It’s also a good idea to examine your supply chain and product offerings regularly to identify and remedy any weaknesses you see.
- Stay ahead of your inventory — While it’s not always an option to invest in large amounts of inventory at a time — either for lack of resources, budgetary concerns, or a supply and demand balance — you may want to look ahead and determine how you can reasonably obtain a larger inventory. For example, seeking financing, expanding your space or renting storage space, or outsourcing solutions. It’s important to be proactive and anticipate a potentially unpredictable supply chain, which could happen at a moment’s notice.
- Utilize supply chain management software — Automation and software have come a long way, and supply chain management tools are no different. Though they are typically used by larger businesses, small businesses can benefit greatly from their ability to track inventory, manage shipping, and monitor the flow of products.
Navigating the Waters
Dealing with supply chain issues and figuring out how to successfully operate your business (and with as little stress as possible) in a supply chain frenzy is tricky, time-consuming, and overwhelming. But it’s important to remember you’re not alone. If it feels like your finances are a mess, we’ve got dedicated bankers on our team at Republic Bank to help you out. Give us a call at 800-526-9127 or find more financial tips on our website.