Common Supply Chain Weaknesses Small Business Owners Must Avoid


Many business types these days have a considerable supply chain and ship many materials, parts, or products. Your venture might have to handle supplies and logistics regularly, whether you sell online, are a wholesaler or distributor, manufacturer, or run a different type of venture.

Regardless of your industry, if you don’t take control of your supply chain ASAP, you can set your business up for failure. It’s vital to think about some of the supply chain weaknesses you may face, so you can avert disasters before they happen and help increase profits, cut costs, and boost customer demand and satisfaction.

Check out some of the most common supply chain weaknesses that small business owners need to know about and work to avoid.

Not Taking Advantage of Helpful Tech Tools

One potential weakness to steer clear of is not taking advantage of helpful tech tools to boost your business and streamline operations. There are all sorts of programs that can aid you in various ways when it comes to your supply chain. For example, it’s wise to utilize vehicle tracking software solutions to monitor where transport carriers and parcels are. This helps you to monitor and manage your shipments and better update customers on the whereabouts of stock.

Plus, if you run your own trucks, vans, etc., you can take advantage of state-of-the-art GPS software to give drivers the quickest and most effective routes to get to their destinations, thus saving time, gas, and money. Routing technology can alert drivers to things like roadworks and traffic accidents as they go, too, and provide updated new routes that best avoid unexpected delays.

There are also handy predictive maintenance tools that analyze vehicles from afar and alert you when the vehicles require maintenance, services, repairs, etc. The software can check sensor data and use other equipment monitoring tools, so your fleet stays on the road more with fewer unscheduled downtimes and more reliability for your business and your clients in turn.

Also, if your supply chain involves the purchase or sale and transport of temperature-sensitive goods, you may want to invest in temperature indicators to alert drivers and parcel handlers to times when packages are going beyond their optimate temperature zones. There are also useful shock indicators to promote awareness of when parcels are being impacted too much in transit, which is especially handy if any hazardous goods need transporting.

Not Paying Close Attention to Data

Another tech tool you should be paying attention to in your business if you don’t want to have supply chain weaknesses is data. We have access to more data these days than ever and can use this information to help us build better businesses. Data visibility in the supply chain is crucial because it makes it easier to spot issues ASAP, attend to them, become more efficient, and cut costs. It also aids in minimizing risk.

Look at extensive reports that software can run for you to see cycle times for things like how long it takes to go from placing stock requests to getting approval and then running purchasing orders, invoicing, and having items delivered. You can also track the consolidation of goods and the vendors you deal with and use on-time delivery reporting to clarify which orders you’re waiting on at any given time.

Data will help you see which items sell the best and the worst and peak periods when you should be stocking up on top lines. It can help you see the profit you’re making on various goods, too, and give you more ammunition to use when you approach your vendors about renegotiating prices and terms and conditions.

Choosing Inadequate Supply Chain Partners

As you might imagine, another big issue that can arise is choosing inadequate supply chain partners. It can be risky picking companies to align with that don’t fulfill your needs or cost more than they should, or otherwise let you down. This can happen with shippers, product suppliers (such as manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers), external sales reps, software vendors, and other parts of the supply chain.

To reduce the likelihood of having issues here, be proactive and expect transparency. Don’t be afraid to ask your supply chain partners as many questions as needed over time and for access to any data you require to analyze if they’re still worthy of dealing with. Assess the outcomes you achieve from working with each partner and calculate statistics on the percentage of deliveries that arrive on time and intact, how often systems crash, if networks get compromised by hackers, the quality of distributed goods, etc.

If too many issues keep cropping up with one firm, it’s wise to look for another supply chain partner to use instead or at least to renegotiate terms or put consequences in place for things not going to plan.

There’s no point complaining about problems with supply chain weaknesses if you haven’t taken steps to avoid issues in the first place or notice being let down but don’t do anything to rectify this. Be proactive in spotting and fixing weaknesses today, and you’ll enjoy fewer headaches and wasted time, energy, and money in the long run.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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