Our global supply chain is still facing a lot of problems. Between post-pandemic-related risks like labour disruptions, economic unrest and extreme weather conditions, retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers all need to push the envelope in order to stay in business and find growth possibilities. Let's look ahead to 2024 and see what supply chain leaders can do to stay ahead of the curve.
1. Supply issues
The challenge: In the past few years, it has become clear how easy it is to disrupt the flow of goods. It's been hard for many businesses to get the goods they need to keep from running out, possibly because of production shutdowns or problems with logistics.
The solution: Companies will need to find ways to make their supply chains stronger so they can handle events outside of their control. This may be by developing stronger relationships with their suppliers for preferential treatment, maintaining stock levels in a different way, or managing cash flow better so they can fund their businesses when there is a lag.
2. Changes in demand
The challenge: Every once in a while, customer behaviour changes. Trends can happen quickly as a result of various scenarios affecting society, politics, and the economy in general. These trends can either cause big sales jumps or drops. We all remember how as COVID-19 hit, everyone wanted masks and cleaning materials, and no one wanted to eat out. The shifts aren’t always as dramatic as this but supply and demand will always ebb and flow and your business needs to adapt in order to stay relevant.
The solution: Have contingency plans in the background. Think carefully about how to diversify your supply chain, find suppliers in different locations and perhaps also consider diversifying your product so it is relevant in different contexts.
3. Tracking stock levels
The challenge: There are many warehouse management tools and barcode technologies available, but many businesses still use old ways to keep track of their stock. Without being able to see and fully understand their inventory, it's nearly impossible to make smart choices about the supply chain.
The solution: Integrate the right supply chain technology in order to give you access to real-time product info, empowering you to monitor stock levels, trends and locations, ultimately giving you a bird’s eye view of your operation.
4. Not enough time or money
The challenge: There are a lot of problems in the supply chain right now, so inventory management teams need some time to deal with operational problems and handle customer demands. Unfortunately, people who still do things like predicting demand and changing stock by hand will have a hard time finding the time to think about the bigger picture.
The solution: In 2024, companies will have to spend money on supply chain digitization tools to help their workers do their jobs better and deal with problems related to stock management. Automation is already being used to boost productivity in all parts of the business, from production to marketing to banking. Now is the time for inventory management teams to have the same technology tools.
5. Labour shortages
The challenge: The first and most pressing problem for people in charge of the supply chain is the ongoing lack of workers in operations and transportation, which started because of the pandemic and is still going on today. Companies are having a hard time finding and keeping skilled workers because a lot of people quit their jobs early, went on strike, or switched to working from home. Because of a lack of workers in the supply chain business, things are moving more slowly and costs are going up.
The solution: Work with the staff you have but find ways for them to work smarter and not harder. Automation once again can assist with this, allowing you to digitally streamline processes that are prone to human error, rather than having your core staff work on tasks that require critical thinking that machines can’t manage. You can also work on your staff offering, creating great growth opportunities in order to draw and retain good employees.
6. A shift to omnichannel retail
The challenge: Customers are seeking a smooth shopping experience in-store and online, through social media, apps, and e-commerce. This has sped up the demand for omnichannel retail. If your business is not set up for this you run the risk of alienating your customer and letting them go to the competition.
The solution: Use technology to connect your systems. This will also require high-level staff training so there is communication across your operation. The other upside of this is that your entire operation from your warehouse to your brick-and-mortar store to your website will be integrated and you will be able to have a much wider view of your business.
The bottom line
In 2024, supply chains will continue to face many difficult problems. But the good news is that wherever there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity. Find ways to come up with new ideas and create a competitive edge for your company. In a world that is always changing, it will be important to keep learning and being able to change. If you need fast access to funding to put these exciting changes into play, consider a Merchant Capital Cash Advance; A leading fintech solution which is tailor-made for supply chain retailers and provides working capital in under 48 hours.