Whether you’re a small, medium, or large-size corporation, your supply chain is key to experiencing success.
Apple is a great example of this. Since taking over as CEO of Apple, Tim Cook has transformed Apple’s supply chain for the better. Steve Jobs left behind a bulky and overblown supply chain, so Tim Cook converted it into an eco-friendly and more efficient one. He did this by:
- Reducing the number of supply chain vendors from 100 to 24
- Reducing the number of Apple warehouses by 50%
- Establishing strong relationships with manufacturers
The point is clear: even a company as successful as Apple is continuously making improvements to its supply chain – and you should be doing this, too!
So, with that covered, let’s dive into some steps that you can take to achieve a better supply chain for the long term.
1. Use drop and hook trucking
Firstly, let’s focus on the trucking side of the supply chain.
If you have a truck fleet that is regularly out on the road transporting goods, then it’s highly recommended that you use a drop and hook strategy.
Drop and hook trucking is very simple: it’s when a truck driver drops off a trailer at a specified spot (such as a warehouse). After doing this, they are then immediately equipped with an empty or packed trailer.
This works so well because it reduces any time wasted and prevents the truck driver (or any other workers) from having to manually unload and load a truck upon its arrival. Convenient, right?
Learn more about drop and hook freight and how it will benefit your company and drivers.
2. Source from green suppliers
Next, if you want to improve your supply chain even more, you should source from a green supplier.
Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past few years, you’ll be aware that climate change is a big global topic. From America to Europe, companies are now making important steps forward to reduce their carbon emissions and ultimately make the earth a sustainable (and safer) place.
So, even if you’re only a small company with a small carbon footprint, it’s good to start sourcing from green suppliers. This way, your supply chain will be future-proof, and you won’t have to worry about polluting the atmosphere during your product development and transportation processes.
Plus, once you start making greener changes to your supply chain, you can then start to market it to customers.
Green brands are ‘in’ at the moment, as many customers are frantically searching for brands with green beliefs and initiatives. Essentially, it’s a great way to give your brand name a nice little boost.
3. Reduce journey times and optimize loading space
One of the most common problems with supply chains is long journey times.
Long journey times – when goods are transported in trucks to retailers – are a nightmare for supply chain managers. This nightmare is made even worse when there are disruptions to particular journeys, whether it’s due to road blockages or harsh weather conditions.
Therefore, you should be looking to reduce journey times for maximum efficiency. To do this, you should:
- Consider moving the location of your warehouse or warehouses
- Choose non-peak hours if possible
- Use advanced routing software
On top of this, you should also look to optimize the loading space in any trucks or vans that you’re using within your supply chain. For example, you might find that you could cut the number of journeys your fleet makes by 50% simply by optimizing the loading space more efficiently. Or, if you have the funds to do so, you could consider upgrading your fleet vehicles to larger models so that you have more space to work with.
4. Train your drivers
Training your drivers can ultimately improve their performance levels when they’re out on the road, which is great for a better supply chain.
Nowadays, there are many driving courses for fleet drivers to go on courtesy of their companies, so make sure to research what’s available in your local area. On top of this, you should also encourage drivers to operate their trucks in an eco-friendlier manner, such as by reducing harsh braking and acceleration.
5. Take orders online
For a great and modern supply chain, you have to be taking orders online.
This way, you can increase your sales and experience a more productive supply chain.
If you only sell products in-store, then you’re putting your company at a major disadvantage.
Ideally, if you’re a medium or large-size corporation, you should be selling products via your own eCommerce platform.
6. Provide customers with returnable packaging
Next, provide your customers with returnable packaging, whether you sell tech devices or sportswear.
Returnable packaging is becoming more and more common in today’s green world. This isn’t surprising, as returnable packaging benefits both the seller and the customer.
Customers no longer have to worry about paying for their own packaging to send faulty or unwanted items back. Instead, all they have to do is reseal the packaging, stick it on a postage stamp, and it will be right back with you in a couple of days. Of course, this is great, as it also means none of your employees have to physically drive to the customer’s home to recollect the package.
7. Use analytics to identify problems and trends
Last but not least, make sure to use analytics to identify any problems or trends within your supply chain.
For example, a lot of modern companies are now managing their fleets more efficiently by using GPS tracking software with analytics. These analytics provide all sorts of valuable information, such as when drivers are performing behind schedule (e.g., persistent late arrivals at drop-off points).
You can also use software tools for warehouses that keep you up-to-date on how many units of stock you have as well as predicted forecasts for stock levels. However, it’s highly recommended that you hire a supply chain analytics expert to deal with this data and help you make informed decisions.