Has providing your business customers with the products and services they need, on time, every time, become rather more challenging than it once was? If you answered in the affirmative, you’re far from alone.
Globally, the world is running low on a disparate array of components and goods, from computer chips to coffee, and the shortages are having a ripple effect through multiple industries and markets.
If you’re a B2B enterprise that aspires to remain in business and sustain growth, streamlining and strengthening your supply chain to make your operations more resilient and efficient has become an urgent imperative.
Here are some ways you can do so.
Map it out
In challenging times, it can be helpful to get a bird’s eye view of your position. Supplier mapping – identifying key stakeholders, understanding supplier relationships and establishing the costs and timings associated with each part of the supply chain – can help you to identify vulnerabilities that may disrupt your ability to service your customers. Having done so, you can then make or modify your contingency plans. That may involve establishing a greater inventory buffer, forging closer ties with your critical suppliers, and identifying and testing new ones that could potentially step into the breach, if needed.
Support your team
People are the secret sauce in any successful business. A good team will keep your operations ticking over smoothly and strive to resolve even the knottiest of supply chain issues. Implementing an integrated e-commerce solution that automates processes and eliminates data silos makes it easier for your employees to do their jobs well, particularly when they’re grappling with the knock-on effect of factors beyond their control.
Keep the communication channels open
Knowledge is power and, in uncertain times like these, never more so. If supply chain bottlenecks mean the on-time supply of goods and services is no longer possible, your customers will want to know, and as quickly as possible too. It’s vital to manage their expectations and communicating with them clearly and openly is the best way to do so. Optimising your eCommerce platform is one way. Displaying clear, current information about your inventory levels, estimated shipping times and any additional costs that might be incurred keeps customers in the loop. It means they don’t need to keep calling or emailing your team for updates on where orders are at and it can lessen the likelihood of them taking their business elsewhere.
Make customer relationships a priority
Customers may come for the quality or price initially but, very often, they’ll stay for the service. Providing it’s responsive and helpful, that is. Personalising your digital interactions with customers at every stage of the purchasing journey can take your communications to the next level and result in buyers feeling recognised and valued. An integrated e-commerce platform will allow you to do so, without having to expand or over-extend your sales and customer service teams.
Turning to technology
Having the right tools makes every task easier. That’s why forward-thinking enterprises are turning to digital technology to streamline and strengthen their supply chains, create rich hubs of business data and drive personalised communications programs that keep their customers informed and on side. An integrated eCommerce platform can do all these things; making it easier for your employees to service and support customers that keep you in business.
At a time when persistent supply chain disruption is making it tough for teams to keep calm and carry on, it’s an investment in business continuity and customer satisfaction that’s likely to pay rich dividends in 2022 and beyond.