Today’s fickle online shoppers are always on the hunt for the next new thing. To keep up with consumer demand and changing expectations, retailers need to constantly seek out new suppliers and get them up to speed in a hurry, a task that’s often easier said than done. Here’s a look at some of the most common supplier onboarding challenges and how to tackle them.
For many companies, the supply chain forms the core of their operations. This means the supply chain manager is key to ensuring that every step runs smoothly, from sourcing raw materials to meeting customers’ needs. Gone are the days when the supply chain manager only dealt with procurement and negotiated the best price. In today’s complex and fast-paced digital era, the job has evolved into a strategic position that requires a balance of wide-ranging expertise, including analytical, IT, and relationship-building skills.
It’s no surprise that a supply chain manager needs to have a firm grasp of the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing sectors as well as strong math, analytical, and statistical skills that allow them to deal with issues of supply and demand. They also need to be well versed in areas such as planning, finance management, and contract administration.
In addition to these hard skills, a supply chain manager needs solid people skills in order to forge strong, lasting relationships with suppliers, customers, and other team members and negotiate advantageous agreements. The supply chain manager is no longer working on their own in a back room. Today, they’re in the thick of the action, developing partnerships with goods and services providers that will strengthen the entire chain and open doors to new business relationships that could, in turn, lead to future opportunities.
Knowledge of technology
In today’s modern world, technology is a cornerstone of any supply chain, and requires constant attention as it continuously evolves. A supply chain manager must be skilled in various technologies—from AI, automation, and machine learning to the Internet of Things, analytics software, and EDI solutions—to assess a company’s IT needs, procure the right tools to streamline systems and processes, and use these tools effectively, all without breaking the bank!
Understanding of Big Data
The use of technology can generate a lot of complex data. A supply chain manager needs to know how to efficiently sift through it all. They can then determine what data to measure and how to interpret it to pinpoint areas for improvement, come up with solutions, and implement these changes in a timely manner. A supply chain manager can harness the power of data to track orders and shipments, monitor sales trends, and keep a close eye on supply versus demand.
Along with everything mentioned above, in our post–COVID-19 era, supply chain disruptions have become more common, and a savvy supply chain manager needs to be able to understand, assess, and mitigate supply chain risk. For instance, when the pandemic shut down traditional supply chains, some supply chain managers found alternative sources like local suppliers. Those in larger companies could, for example, proactively stockpile inventory during times of strong cash flow to avoid potential shortages during future lockdowns.
This kind of risk management means that a good supply chain manager must be able to not only evaluate suppliers by their price and quality of goods, but also by their resilience in the face of disruption.
A driver of growth and resilience
An astute supply chain manager is not a small player, but a major asset that can give your company a leg up on the competition and keep your business resilient during these challenging times.
Learn how an effective supply chain manager can make your business more resilient