How brands navigate supply chain challenges during festive season

In our digital-first world, supply chain management efficiency is key to building a successful business. Supply chain management is the centralized management of the flow of goods and services. It oversees the flow of goods and services from raw materials into finished consumer products. Moving and storing the materials, storing the finished products until sold, and tracking where sold products go – are all part of the supply chain management. It involves essentially every aspect of business operations, including logistics, purchasing, and information technology. Integrating materials, finances, suppliers, manufacturing facilities, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers into a seamless system.

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As the festive season approaches, businesses find themselves in a tight spot. This is when several customers are browsing the website and application, adding items to the cart and wish list. Making it a nightmare for digital businesses to keep up. While businesses do love a good festive sale season, it becomes cumbersome and difficult to meet the deadlines for delivery. Along with managing goods, transport and maintaining a track of bills. At times the festive season can bring unprecedented challenges. Bringing light to several supply chain disruptions. Digital brands face challenges like:

Pre-festive Inventory:

Each year the festive season appears to begin earlier than each year. This brings in early shoppers who want to get their hands on great offers and products. Placing pressure on the inventory lines before the busy festive season begins. When the customers are shopping in advance, inventory gets depleted fast. This impacts supply timelines during the festive season. Businesses are not able to replenish their stock as quickly with heavy demand on suppliers.

Storage stress

During the festive season, businesses tend to acquire additional inventory which gives birth to two new issues – inventory management and storage space issues. Not all digital business setups have large storage space. Some perishable products may need more care with regulated temperatures, which may cause storage issues for brands with limited space and temperature regulations.

Festive Trends

While in our digital age, AI helps us to predict consumer trends, there is always a chance of an unpredictable trend taking over. A celebrity or a social influencer video can make a specific style of product more popular which only has limited stock. Or is only present in a specific location. This leads to a lack of supply for a high-demand product.

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Logistical challenges

The festive season brings with it a range of delivery delays, as across the nation brands are busy with the sale season. Another logistical delay can be natural occurrences like rain, storms, or a strong blazing sun. Traffic congestion, theft, and unprecedented loss via an accident can cause unneeded delays for businesses.

In our technology-evolving world, supply chain management has indeed come a long way. It helps a brand to stay connected with its end-to-end supply chain operations team. This helps them to prepare for solutions for supply chain challenges, especially during the festive season. Some of these are:

A. Making a gameplan

The first thing businesses do now is to prepare beforehand. With the help of AI analytics businesses can be prepared for the leading festive trends of the season. They can communicate these well in advance of the festive season to their suppliers. The aim is to keep communication lines open to avoid order-based misunderstandings. Here are things e-commerce brands work with:
i. Building a festive product plan based on predictive analysis.
ii. Have a list of available personnel during the holiday season who are ready to work.
iii. Keep a confirmed list of suppliers ready for last-minute order fulfilment, as and when necessary.
iv. Build tentative delivery timelines from production to stores or final customer to be adhered to.
v. Design a contingency plan for any natural occurrences that are unpredictable.

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B. Local store partnerships

Many digital brands are partnering with local stores and small shops to enhance their delivery speed. This partnership enables them to distribute goods at a faster pace with the local stores 2-5 km radius. This tactic aids the brands in reducing their storage issues, having a strong hold on inventory spread across multiple local stores, and delivering to highly populated regions with ease. Making it easier for logistics and e-commerce brands to service clients. A win-win strategy for local retail stores and e-commerce brands.

C. Omnichannel interactions

With growing technology, customers can now place orders in the comfort of their homes and pick them up in person at a physical store. Ikea offers this in the UK as part of their supply chain strategy. Customer can order IKEA products and pick them up from a local nearby Co-op store at their leisure. This is also referred to as a self-service model. It also includes zero-contact delivery order fulfilment.

D. Latest technology integration

A must in our digital age is to stay in tune with the latest in technology. It has become a crucial part of supply chain management for its ability to derive and drive data. It helps brands to plan, stay in line with production deadlines, and keep a check in their inventory across stores. E-commerce brands make sure of this to enhance their customer services and increase efficiency in operations.

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E. Transparency

The key to being successful during the festive season is to align your team with similar data. When brands gather all relevant data and make it accessible to numerous stakeholders in the system, they bring in trust. It builds openness in the team where they can all work together to maximize sales.

F. Diversify your suppliers

Enhancing production sourcing in our global economic environment has become important. Brands simply cannot rely on one supplier alone for their festive seasons. As forward-thinking brands, each one must examine its supply chain to diversify wherever possible. This helps to reduce the risk of supply chain challenges and interruptions.

For any smart business to run a seamless festive season sale it is essential to assess the demand.  Festive seasons are at times make or break periods for brands. An effective and well-oiled supply chain is crucial for success. Brands should aim to work with demand forecasting, diversifying their suppliers, and building connected channels for higher transparency. All decisions taken during supply chain management play a key role in expanding a brand’s consumer base. Building these techniques can help many brands to draw in new clients and bring in a higher percentage of sales.

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Author: Mankiran