Supply chain shortage- We are sure you must have dealt with it at some point in your business, offline or online. Whether it's in response to product demand, supply chain disruptions, or other unforeseen circumstances, shortages can have a significant impact on your business.
The good news is that there are ways to manage and even mitigate the impact of shortages. In this article, we'll share some quick tips that can help you plan ahead and quickly rebound in the event of supply chain shortages.
From adjusting pricing structures to expanding distribution networks, we'll outline a few key strategies you can use to minimize the damage and get back on track as quickly as possible.
What is the impact of supply chain shortages on e-commerce?
But first, how does a supply chain shortage impact your online business? Is it such a matter of priority that you have to pay attention to this issue? Yes, of course! A supply chain shortage has the potential to destroy your business if not properly taken care of. Here are some of the possible issues that can crop up when you don’t maintain an adequate product supply.
Decrease in sales and customers
Stores may find themselves unable to stock popular items, leading to lost sales and lost customers. If a store can’t provide its customers with what they want, those customers will likely take their business elsewhere in the future.
There are also potential financial implications to consider. When items are in short supply, their price can go up, meaning that a store may not be able to offer its customers the best deals possible when they’re needed most. And even if the store can source the products they need, the cost of transportation might rise due to demand or external factors such as fuel prices.
Finally, there is a risk of customer dissatisfaction due to back-order issues. Unfulfilled orders result in refunds as well as damaged relationships between stores and customers. Now that you know some of the common causes of supply chain shortages, what are some strategies you can use to manage them? Let’s find them out here.
What are the steps to minimize the effects of supply chain shortages?
Whether it's a sourcing issue, an unexpected demand spike, or something else altogether, such shortages can be an enormous headache. It’s therefore important for stores to be able to identify and effectively manage these risks through comprehensive supply chain solutions.
The good news is that there are ways to navigate the situation without harming your business or losing customers. Here are 10 tips that you can use to manage supply chain shortages in e-commerce.
1. Identify the root cause
When faced with supply chain shortages, identifying the root cause is crucial in order to develop effective strategies and minimize the impact on your business. The first step is to engage with your suppliers and proactively communicate with them to understand the reasons behind the shortage. This open dialogue will help you gain insight into any disruptions or challenges they may be facing. By understanding the root cause, you can work collaboratively to find solutions or alternative options.
2. Assess supply and demand
One of the key steps to minimizing the effects of supply chain shortages is to assess supply and demand effectively. This involves analyzing your current stock levels and anticipating future demand patterns to ensure you have a clear understanding of how much product you will need to keep up with customer orders.
Start by conducting a thorough inventory audit to determine your existing stock levels and identify any potential gaps or shortages. Utilize data analytics and forecasting tools to analyze historical sales data, market trends, and customer behavior to predict future demand. This will enable you to make informed procurement decisions and align your supply chain accordingly.
3. Work with reliable manufacturers/suppliers
Choosing quality suppliers is key because accuracy is the cornerstone of any successful supply chain. It's important to pick team members who you trust, who have been around for a while, and who have proven they can deliver on their promises without fail. Plus, partnering with reliable manufacturers and suppliers will help ensure that all materials meet your standards and requirements every time.
4. Re-evaluate your suppliers
If you are having issues with the existing vendors, it is time to re-evaluate and shift orders to partners who have the inventory and resources needed to fulfill orders while also providing a competitive price. This may involve reaching out to new, smaller suppliers or international sources who may be better equipped to meet demand.
To ensure continuous production, look for multiple sources of materials (or services) and suppliers—this will give you various options in case there's an interruption from one source. Having redundant partners can help cover gaps in the process if something does come up, so you don't have to worry about any bottlenecks or delays.
5. Adjust forecasts
Your demand forecasts should reflect the current market conditions. Take the time to review and analyze your existing forecasts, considering factors such as changes in customer behavior, industry trends, and any disruptions in the supply chain. By regularly evaluating and adjusting your forecasts, you can ensure they are aligned with the most up-to-date information and make informed decisions.
This proactive approach allows you to identify potential gaps or surpluses in your inventory and take corrective actions before committing resources and ordering materials, which can help avoid costly delays or overstocking of incorrect materials.
6. Leverage technology
Advances in modern technology have made it easier than ever before for companies to monitor their supply chain processes in real time. Utilizing data analytics tools and other technologies like AI and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) can help identify potential problems earlier in the process as well as streamline business processes.
Although it might feel like supply chain shortages can be crippling and out of your control, there are ways to leverage technology to help manage and mitigate potential problems.
For instance, technology can be used to monitor the levels of inventory across your entire supply chain and help streamline warehouse operations. In addition, you can use technology to track shipping times, pinpoint delivery issues, and determine whether transport routes are meeting their promises.
Here are some tips for using technology to get the most out of your supply chain:
Invest in automation systems that monitor, analyze, and adjust inventory levels in real time. This means you can reduce losses from unexpected demand or logistical disruptions.
Utilize data mapping to create a detailed look at your supply chain, from raw materials all the way through to customers. With this data, you can gain better visibility into who handles what products, how they handle them, and where they’re located within the supply chain.
Use predictive analytics software solutions to predict future demand fluctuations so you can prepare if there’s a sudden surge in orders or an unexpected delivery delay.
Utilize cloud computing services that offer scalability along with the ability to access real-time data anytime, anywhere. This is especially useful for e-commerce businesses that rely on global supplier networks, as they have greater flexibility when it comes to time-sensitive decisions.
Investing in technology can make it easier to track your inventory levels and associated costs. Automated systems can help you gain insight into supplier performance, lead times, and other information that can be useful for understanding your supply chain better. Manual data tracking is time-consuming, but fortunately, automation tools like spreadsheets and software solutions can make this process much simpler.
7. Consider alternative solutions
It's important to plan ahead for any potential disruptions that could arise due to supply chain issues—such as having a backup supplier ready in case you run out of stock or developing alternative methods for sourcing materials—so that you can quickly recover when issues arise. Brainstorm other potential short-term solutions you can implement in the event of a shortage.
8. Keep customers informed
Another good thing is to effectively communicate with your customers. Your customers are key stakeholders in this process, and it’s important to keep them informed about any potential delays or disruptions. Providing them with clear, transparent, and timely updates will help show that you’re doing what you can to address the issue.
Ways to keep customers informed:
Send out push notifications or emails whenever there are unexpected supply chain changes.
Provide an estimated timeframe for the resolution of these issues.
Create a FAQ page with easy-to-understand information on current supply chain requirements.
Hold interactive webinars that allow customers to ask questions directly.
Post regular updates on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
By taking these steps, you can help build trust with your customers and let them know that their needs are being taken into account. You may also want to consider offering discounts or other special promotions as a gesture of goodwill toward affected customers.
9. Study trends and analytics
Analyzing trends and results is a crucial step in minimizing the effects of supply chain shortages. By analyzing market trends, consumer behavior, and historical data, you can gain valuable insights into demand patterns and make informed decisions.
Utilize advanced analytics tools and software to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), track sales data, and identify any potential fluctuations or shifts in demand.
Stay up-to-date with industry reports, market research, and economic forecasts to anticipate changes in the market and adjust your supply chain strategies accordingly.
By studying trends and analytics, you can proactively identify potential supply chain risks, such as emerging shortages or disruptions, and take preventive actions.
10. Stay proactive
You can't always predict when a disruption or shortage might occur, but you can arm yourself with the right tools and strategies to help list and manage all potential issues—and there are a few different ways to go about that.
Ensure that you stay updated on changes in your industry and adjust your plans accordingly. Keep open lines of communication with your suppliers and customers so that everyone understands the situation and moves forward together if necessary.
Build An Engaging App For Free
Have a mobile app for your store
A mobile app for your store can play a significant role in minimizing the effects of supply chain shortages by enhancing communication, visibility, and efficiency throughout the supply chain process. Here are some ways a mobile app can help:
Real-time inventory management
A mobile app can provide real-time visibility into inventory levels, allowing businesses to monitor stock levels, track usage, and identify potential shortages. This enables proactive inventory management and timely reordering to avoid stockouts.
Forecast and planning
Leverage analytics to study historical data, customer behavior, and market trends. Use these metrics to optimize your supply chain operations and ensure sufficient stock availability.
Order tracking and delivery management
With a mobile app, businesses and customers can track the status of orders in real time. This visibility helps manage customer expectations and provides proactive updates in case of any delays or disruptions in the supply chain.
Communication and alerts
Mobile apps can facilitate instant communication and alerts regarding supply chain updates, such as inventory levels, production delays, or changes in delivery schedules. This helps all stakeholders stay informed and make timely decisions to mitigate the effects of supply chain shortages.
Now that you know how crucial a mobile app can be to helping you minimize supply chain shortages, we recommend building it on the no-code app builder Swipecart. This intuitive drag-and-drop app builder helps you in different ways to keep your customers informed and increase business efficiency.
Whether it's due to current global events or simply higher-than-usual demand, supply chain shortages are a reality of doing business today. As an e-commerce business owner, you must be prepared to tackle these issues to keep your customers and your business happy.
By creating a proactive supply chain strategy, communicating with your suppliers and customers, staying on the lookout for alternative sources, offering options to meet demand, and creating an app for your store, you can overcome supply chain shortages quickly and efficiently. Keep in mind that supply chain issues are not insurmountable—with the right tools and strategies, you can find a solution that works for your business.