COVID-19: Supply Chain Management during a Pandemic
Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on businesses around the world. With the reduced production output from Chinese manufacturing during the start of the crises, many commodities are running in short supply.
Panic buying and stock-piling are compounding these issues. Where customers are buying in unprecedented levels out of fear that product availability will fall, demand has never been higher.
This presents a huge number of challenges for businesses, and particularly SMEs who may not have contingency plans in place.
Business challenges during COVID-19
- Delays in receiving deliveries
- Lack of availability from overseas suppliers
- Increased demand from customers
- Running out of storage capacity
- Holding sufficient overflow stocks to provide a contingency
As with all things, preparation is key. However, if you haven’t prepared for managing stock availability, then you are very much alone!
Here are a few strategic plans you can put in place to mitigate business disruption over the coming months:
- Consider your staffing policies
With social distancing being mandated in the worst affected countries, it is increasingly likely this will apply to the UK. Consider your staffing, what hygiene and sanitary provisions you have in place, and where your staffing structure could adapt to copy with working from home.
Simple measures such as installing a remote working program on all PCs (Team Viewer and No Machine are a couple of examples) prepare your office based staff to have access to their work machines should they need to work from home.
Think about agency cover requirements should a significant proportion of your workforce feel ill, and have a plan for how to cover business-critical functions.
Consult with your team! Talking about the challenges and deciding how best your business can be adaptable is the best way to make sure everybody is on board with the plans, and that you consider all aspects of contingency planning such as childcare and travel restrictions.
- Analyse supply and demand
Depending on your market area, you might be expecting to see significant increases in consumer demand over the coming months. Being able to keep up with that demand is crucial, particularly if there is then a sharp down turn in sales as the pandemic levels out.
Calculate what stocks you currently hold, and how long these might sustain sales at their current rate. Take a look at the sales trajectory over the last few weeks, and see if you can identify any changes in trends. Consider which product areas or ranges are likely to be in the highest demand, and focus your resources on fulfilling those products at the highest possible capacity.
- Plan your stock intakes ahead of time
Once you have an idea of what you are currently selling, and how long it will last, you will need to think about projected sales patterns in the coming weeks. There is no guaranteed way to make this assessment, so your judgement and industry experience are essential to working out what additional stocks you may require.
Speak to your suppliers about delivery delays. It may be prudent to place your forward orders NOW, whilst they have production capacity and can make additional deliveries, rather than trying to re-order at the point when your stocks have run down to zero.
With travel restrictions, it may be that new deliveries are delayed longer than usual. Be conscious about where your supply chain is based, any extra time they need for new production, and how long deliveries are expected to take to reach you.
- Talk to your customers
If you supply B2B, or work with regular clients, get in touch with them now to discuss any problems they might be facing. Having an open dialogue will help to put plans in place now, whilst most services continue to run at normal levels.
They may need additional supplies, wish to place larger orders than usual, or need extra storage capacity to have back-up stocks when logistics becomes further impacted.
- How we can help
As a 3PL and logistics expert, we work with clients and suppliers around the world. We understand the impact that travel restrictions have, and can work with our freight transport network to identify the fastest, most cost-effective, and safest travel methods for your supply chain to minimise delays and elevate your stock capacity during times of high demand.
Based in East Sussex with direct access to the M25 and Dover allows us to coordinate with sea, air and road transport providers and to allocate urgent space to our clients.
With an efficient 3PL service, we are currently accepting new 3PL clients whereby we warehouse stocks at our UKWA accredited facility, and then integrate with our client’s website or ordering system to automatically draw down and fulfil customer orders.
This service is proving extremely popular with e-commerce companies who are concerned about:
- Having enough storage space to cope with extra stocks
- Being able to keep up with increased order volumes from customers
- Struggling to fulfil orders on time due to staff shortages
Give us a call today, and let’s chat about how we can work together to weather the storm.
LG Fulfilment Ltd is a full service 3PL Fulfilment provider, with immediate space availability, with pick pack, value added and transport services.
Located in Hastings, we have direct access to A21, A27, A259 and onward to M20 Folkestone and Dover (Calais France), ideal for cross-channel warehousing, logistics and Brexit warehouse space contingencies.
Contact us to discuss any fulfilment enquiries – we specialise in finding solutions for outsize, unusual shape or dimension packages:
Tel: 01424 559169