How SMBs Can Rein In Supply Chains Like the Big Boys

Big companies rein in supply chains on multiple levels.

They are in competitive industries and have complex manufacturing requirements. They have dispersed geographic markets, large numbers of SKUs, or multiple verticals.

For them to rein in supply chains means keeping costs low to meet fulfillment targets.

Smaller companies can do the same by using inventory management solutions. If they don’t, they can be missing out.

How Big Companies Respond to Complex Problems

Take some examples we’ve seen over the past six months.

Urban Outfitters consolidated parts of its supply chain by working with fewer mills, and factories that were known for their speed. The company also used technology to fulfill online orders from physical store returns.

PepsiCo did it with suppliers for its organic drinks. Daily data exchanges led to easier adjustment to bottlenecks, reducing days in inventory.

Amazon, of course, has made freight forwarding, distribution, and technology the backbone to its online marketplaces. Its mastery of supply chains has given Amazon a well-known advantage we don’t have to rehearse here.

Small Companies Can Rein In Supply Chains, Too

SMBs are still slow to invest in inventory management technology.

Business2Community.com cited a study reiterating that spreadsheets are still the more popular go-to for tracking inventory. According to a survey of 1,100 SMBs in the US, 21% started 2017 using spreadsheets. Only 18% used inventory management software and 15% relied on their accounting solution.

The fact that just 8% neglect inventory tracking may be a good sign. People are getting it.

But using pen-and-paper is notoriously inaccurate, as the B2C.com article points out.

The article also notes that spreadsheets lead to many hours spent double-checking inputs. It requires multiple data-entry points for every item, has no real-time data capability for accurate stock counts across multiple transactions, and can’t easily produce usable data for inventory and demand planning.

We couldn’t agree more. The article dovetails with stories we hear from many of our customers.

And as SupplyChainDive recently wrote, small companies can have complex supply chains, too.

An inventory management solution can give those companies the kind of control they need to rein in their supply chains.


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