Leverage a Consumer Goods ERP to Help With Unexpected Supply Chain Disruptions
March 18, 2020
As a consumer goods importer or distributor, the marketplace is often subject to unexpected disruption. A few months ago, it was concern over elevated tariffs and trade and the effects those issues would have on the bottom line (which is still a concern for many businesses). Right now it’s the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus—how long it’ll last, which parts of production will be affected, and if there’s a solution in the foreseeable future. Who knows what’ll be next—whether it’s a new tax that’s passed or an unplanned natural incident—so it’s always important to properly plan and prepare for the unknown.
The coronavirus, as a current example, could affect your bottom line, lead times, and manufacturing partnerships, while creating greater pressure on your business and the employees who help to run it. With all of these new challenges to overcome, your priority (as well as ours) centers on maintaining the stability and success of your business. This is why it’s essential to have a contingency plan in place; you want to make sure you have the right tools so that if disaster does strike, you can easily adapt and adjust.
A consumer goods ERP can help. Like any software solution, it’s not a magical fix-all. It can, however, help your business run as effectively and efficiently as possible, so that when something unexpected does happen, your warehouse is prepared to make quick adjustments, smart financial decisions, and better manage a new kind of normal. An ERP made specifically for you by experts who understand your industry’s challenges and how to best accommodate them can make all the difference, particularly as it relates to:
Forecasting and Inventory Management
A tool to help you manage and plan the inventory you do (and don’t) have is key to your success, particularly during a time of uncertainty. If your production has slowed or stopped because of some unforeseen event, your customers will certainly feel the effects of that. You need to be able to tell them what inventory you have on hand and what you don’t have, what your new timelines look like for production in impacted areas, and present a reliable solution to the problem.
Without leveraging an industry-specific ERP solution, not only is the process of tracking inventory extremely manual and labor-intensive, but accurate forecasting is nearly impossible (especially if a facility has been compromised due to the unexpected disruption). Your data is not always completely current so any kind of new timelines you create will also lack accuracy. An ERP retains all that data, allowing for instantaneous visibility into high-level reporting statistics, as well as the ability to drill down into more detailed historical data. If there was an event years ago that caused production to slow, you already have that data to inform the decisions you make now.
New Manufacturers and New Partnerships
If there’s no foreseeable end in sight to the stopped production, to maintain your business, you’ll likely have to search for new manufacturers to partner with. Though an ERP solution can’t find those suppliers for you, it can help streamline the vendor setup process. Once you input the information into the software, it becomes a repository tracking orders, shipment information, invoices, and all of the pertinent data you’ll need. You’ve captured this supplier data for good and can run reports to support smart decision making in the future. You can also make comparisons between manufacturers, prices, routes, timelines, etc.
Because all of your financial data is built into your ERP solution, making smart financial decisions, especially during times of upheaval and uncertainty, becomes that much easier. You have visibility into what orders may be impacted due to unforeseen disruptions, what will be delayed or potentially canceled, and how it will impact your bottom line. You’ll be able to determine rather quickly if you’re able to meet demand and make informed decisions about whether or not it’s necessary to partner with another vendor to make up the difference.
Visibility into the Supply Chain
When trying to discover how your business can absorb these unforeseen stresses and costs, among other things, you need complete visibility into your supply chain. This kind of insight can help you determine if you need to adjust timelines and how to adjust those timelines. With an ERP solution you can make smart evaluations: if I have to use a new manufacturer, what will this cost me? What will the new shipping routes be? What are the timelines associated? An industry-specific ERP allows you to make dramatic adjustments quickly if that’s what you need to do during unexpected disruptions to maintain the success of your business.
Unexpected disruptions have the potential to severely impact your growth. Even in times of stress and uncertainty, you want to be able to keep up with industry challenges and changes while also remaining scalable. In terms of scalability, having the opportunity to easily grow or shrink operations is huge. During times of success, you can easily expand and stretch, and during times of uncertainty, you can become as lean as necessary and adapt quickly to remain successful. Naturally, during a busy time when you’re shipping tons of products, you need a lot of bandwidth. However, you want to be able to scale that back when you’re not as busy and when you’re shipping less so that you're not unnecessarily spending on unused bandwidth.
With so many unexpected disruptions, whether from government tariffs and regulations, natural disasters or health crises, an ERP solution can help alleviate the stress these disruptions cause to ensure your business can still run as expected to meet customer demand.