Fortifying Your Supply Chain

If there is one lesson we’ve all had to learn over the course of these past few years, it’s proper risk management over our supply chains. Whether you’re facing delays due to storms, worried about unscrupulous suppliers, or other risks to your business, it’s vital to take risk management seriously. Being proactive about the inherent risks to your supply chain will give you the confidence to move forward no matter what the circumstances may be. Let’s focus on some of the most important methods of risk management in your supply chain.

Flexibility is a key component of supply chain risk management, particularly in sourcing and distribution strategies. Conducting supplier audits helps ensure that your suppliers are honest and not providing you with counterfeit products as well as verifying performance against your contractual agreements. These audits can also highlight gaps in your supplier’s schedules which will provide feedback on what can/needs to be improved upon. Developing the flexibility to adapt to new sourcing and distribution strategies will provide customers with confidence in your ability to deliver orders and give you the ability to adapt as needed when circumstances change.

Improving traceability in your shipments will also help mitigate risks against your shipments since customers want to know where the shipment is at all times. Determining where and when damages occur will help ensure that steps are taken to prevent such damages from occurring again. Improving traceability can consist of multiple technologies that help you determine where your shipment is at any given time. Your carrier will be able to provide you with multiple options for tracing your shipment as well as recommendations that will work for you. As proactive as we wish to be for risk management, the question now becomes: what happens when something goes wrong?

In spite of everyone’s best efforts, things will inevitably go wrong. That’s why you must develop a well coordinated team of individuals as well as properly placed communication channels throughout your organization. Having a team in place that is able to communicate quickly and take necessary action will give your organization the ability to ensure your shipments are protected. Having your shipments protected will build trust with your customers, and provide you with peace of mind that your shipments will arrive when they need to.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of risk management for all of the shipments that are under our care. We can provide flexibility by working directly with you, your suppliers and your customers to get every shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, on the timetable that works best for you. We provide traceability by coordinating and scheduling pickup & delivery of shipments in our care and you’re able to track your shipments online through our portal anytime you need to. To see how we can help fortify your supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

Relationship Management of Your Supply Chain

One area of business that can always use more attention is development of relationship management. While it’s easy to overlook this as important to supply chain management, its importance as part of a strategic supply chain cannot be overstated. Why is relationship management so important? Effective relationships help prevent confusion, and they result in better service for everyone involved. In fact, 86% of business leaders believe service is just as important as the product or service they receive. Proper relationship management means going above and beyond for the people who depend upon your organization. How do we do this? The two best practices are by opening lines of communication and extending empathy.

The first step is to open lines of communication across all members of the supply chain. For some companies they may need to open lines internally and ensure that departments are aligned in supply chain goals. For others it’s opening communication with suppliers, procurement managers, transportation management and anyone else that is actively involved in getting your shipment to its customer. This opening of communication is vital to the success of your organization. By opening communication you’re eliminating a lot of ‘surprises’ that can cause delays in your shipments and frustration for your customers. 

Extending empathy to other stakeholders, especially when they’re taking steps and informing you about delays will really help you bolster the relationships with your members of the supply chain. Labor shortages are rampant, costs are on the rise, suppliers can’t receive parts or service, inclement weather all can cause delays with a shipment. Extending empathy and understanding to your stakeholders gives them breathing room, especially when they’re communicating with you any delays they’re experiencing. Many businesses are doing the best they can in their efforts to keep up with demand for their products, however delays can and do occur. Berating them for forces outside their control does not build goodwill. It only serves to create a cycle that harms everyone involved.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of great relationship management. We strive to build close relationships with all of our stakeholders, caring for their needs that help them provide dynamic service. When you call Zip Xpress, you’ll speak to a person, never a machine and there’s always someone who is able to help answer any questions you may have. We’ll work with you, your suppliers and your customers through phone calls all in an effort to get your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, no matter what. Finally, all of our associates work together to provide you with the right custom carrier solutions that will build your business. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Stopping the ‘Fires’ in your Supply Chain

When discussing a strategic supply chain, one of the areas that many shippers feel overwhelmed by is the sense that they’re always putting out ‘fires’ in their organization. That is, solving problems that take time and attention away from creating products to be sent to your customers. Oftentimes these ‘fires’ are caused by confusion since a lack of processes and procedures can result in ‘different ways of doing things’ between associates or a lack of proper training. Both of these result in questions for management and thus fires that need to be put out.

To create a more strategic supply chain, it would be wise to create a set of processes & procedures that standardize the steps your organization takes to complete a task. When creating these processes and procedures, be sure to get everyone assigned to a particular task involved so that they can provide you with a preferred list of steps everyone can agree to. Including screenshots, pictures, lists and any other resources you deem necessary that help make these instructions crystal clear will help current associates get their tasks completed faster and provide clarity with getting all assigned tasks completed in the best way possible.

Devising processes and procedures will allow you to create a company playbook that will grant a lot of independence for your associates while also maintaining standards for your organization. Such clarity will make your supply chain operations run smoothly and in time you’ll find that there are fewer questions or operations where your input is needed. As long as you’ve provided proper input as well as documentation and the procedures are being followed, you’ll find that over time your organization will operate like a well oiled machine. You’ll find yourself spending less time putting out fires and more time building your business, a place where every founder wants to be.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of processes and procedures. Every role in our organization has a series of processes and procedures that provide clarity in how every job is done. Combine this with our focus on a positive attitude from all of our associates and we have a winning combination where we’re able to ensure that every shipment in our care will be delivered on time and undamaged. We have tested and verified all of the steps we utilize in getting your shipments to your customers, and this is one of the ways we’re able to ensure a 99% satisfaction rate with all of our customers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Customer & Supplier Impacts on your Supply Chain

When creating your supply chain, it’s vital to remember that every activity you’re doing leads back to one road: the customer. The customer is arguably the most important member of the supply chain because without customers, nobody would be in business. Building your supply chain to satisfy your customers will allow you to source proper materials that will make your supply chain more resilient. 

How is this done? When your business endeavors to get a clear understanding of what your customers value about your business and how you differentiate yourself, you can build upon your strengths. If you’re known for building a more reliable product, then customers won’t mind if you need to source higher quality parts/materials and take a little longer to do so. The story will be different if you’re known for efficiency and cost savings or customer satisfaction. Seeking out what your customers value from you has proven time and again to be a worthwhile investment.

By knowing what the customer values with your business, you can identify what threatens your ability to deliver your products and which risk mitigation measures will be most effective for your business. You can also utilize this information in regards to your suppliers and provide them with feedback on improving their supply chain as well. They can source better materials or direct you to another supplier in case there is a disruption. Creating these working relationships allows you to continue providing quality products to your customers in a timely manner while keeping true to your values.

It’s important to pay attention to the supplier’s impact on your supply chain, particularly the distance and shipping methods used when determining sourcing strategies. There was a long-held belief that parts/materials would simply be delivered no matter what, but it will be a long time until this will be the case. Understanding the distance and shipping methods allows you to develop contingency plans in the event there is ever a disruption.

Finally, we must understand the supplier’s costs associated with creating products. While nobody wishes to pay more, we must understand when it’s beyond the supplier’s control and assess whether their value as a partner outweighs these costs. It’s important to remember why your company picked your suppliers, oftentimes it was for reasons beyond cost. If we’re too focused on costs we may run out of suppliers and if we can’t have suppliers, then we won’t have a supply chain.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the patterns that can affect your supply chain. That’s why we strive to help our shipping partners and their customers ensure success with every delivery by scheduling pickup and dropoff times through a phone call. Our drivers also understand the importance of every shipment, providing friendly and helpful service while your shipment is in our care. If you’re looking to understand more about developing a strategic supply chain, we have a multitude of custom carrier solutions that can help every shipment of yours arrive on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Developing a Holistic View of Your Supply Chain

In our previous article, we discussed the importance of developing a ‘strategic’ supply chain for your organization. The first area in developing a strategic supply chain was to take a holistic view of the supply chain, rather than constantly putting out fires when things went wrong. This week, our aim is to discuss exactly how your business can develop a holistic view of your supply chain rather than spending your energy always putting out fires.

Visibility of Your Supply Chain

The first step is to define visibility for your organization. If you’re in need of one, a definition we’ve seen works well is asking: “Can we find all the components and move them from Point A to Point B when we need to?” Once you have your definition of visibility, the next step is to work on communication across the supply chain, since company silos ensure that a supply chain is less effective and resilient than an optimized one. Ease of communication to all parties involved in the supply chain helps create visibility and allows you to allocate the resources when and where you need them.

Plan for Multiple Contingencies

One of the interesting perspectives of a holistic supply chain perspective is the fact that they have multiple suppliers for all of their products/components. A lack of visibility often led to a lack of knowledge in alternative supplies that has hit many supply chains hard. Developing alternative sourcing contingencies is the heart of supply chain resilience. Simply having a backup plan in case a supplier doesn’t get you your shipment on time is vital, and sometimes it’s better to have a second and third contingency just in case.

Unity Across the Organization

Finally, the most important component in a holistic supply chain is the unifying belief of its importance across every department in the organization. Developing a holistic supply chain strategy starts at the top with every executive providing their input and follows all the way down across departments to the front line. One department may be concerned about cost, another one about the quality of components. When the executives determine the vision of their supply chain, such questions will be easily answered against the company’s values. Such a unified vision for a holistic supply chain will do wonders to inspire your team and help to grow your company as a result.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to your supply chain strategy. We stress the importance of communication in all that we do and provide continuous updates for every shipment that is in our care. Any time you call us, you’ll receive an answer on the phone from a person, never a machine and we’re always willing to help, whether you’re looking for an update on your shipment or a quote. Everything we do is for our customers and no matter what supply chain challenges you’re facing, we have a custom carrier solution that will help you get your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!