As businesses evolve and grow, it’s essential that supply chain managers allocate time to reworking their strategies in order to make their processes more effective. With customers increasingly expecting “next day delivery guaranteed,” there’s no time like the present to optimize your supply chain for speed and productivity, ensuring your business stands out against its competitors all the while. Here are three tips to get you on the right track.

Audit Your Supply Chain

Before installing any new processes, it’s necessary that you carry out a supply chain audit to identify where processes are hindering efficiency. To do this, monitor its performance on a day to day basis and take note of any deficiencies in the system.

It could be as simple as measuring the accuracy of your deliveries by observing a random sample’s journey from beginning to end in the supply chain. Alternatively, monitoring the communication strategies of those involved in the supply chain is a great way to recognize where staff may require extra training. Accuracy and efficiency are key drivers in gaining repeat sales, so it’s essential that your supply chain is optimized to consistently achieve these expectations. After all, the more systems that you monitor, the more likely that you’ll be able to identify and rectify issues in your processes on the whole.

Another great way to audit processes is to carry out a spot check on vehicles or certain processes to ensure that they’re working optimally from packing to delivery. Spot checks are a great way to save time, and with this data, you can then generate a performance report that will highlight any glaring errors in performance.

Increase Visibility
To help identify any further errors which may not be quite so easy to spot, increasing the visibility of each and every process is a great place to start, as this will allow you to track every component of your product as it moves. A simple way to do this is by giving your suppliers the resources to check your inventory on a real-time basis, so that they’re aware of your situation and can alter their processes accordingly - ensuring that together you can achieve the best service. Giving the same tools internally will allow fellow colleagues to innovate and spot problems before they occur, meaning they can change their subsequent actions based on their experience to prevent larger issues. Ultimately, this is likely to make planning and communications easier and improve management. On the same note, creating transparency between the business and the customer is a great way to build trust. An automated ordering system with little communication is efficient, but isn’t likely to go the extra mile for the customer - which ultimately reduces the chances of repeat purchases. Some processes to consider are giving customers greater leverage to choose between their delivery times, or the option to chat with a member of staff in the face of issues with their order.

Where Possible, Automate
Although not all parts of the supply chain can be automated, according to research, automating where possible could have a great impact on the efficiency of your processes. By reducing manual effort, your systems could improve on accuracy and efficiency, which is also likely to have a positive impact on revenue.

Some areas to consider automating are payments and invoicing, order fulfilment, inventory updates, and customer service areas such as tracking generation and email confirmation. With all of these menial tasks taken care of, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on bigger issues that require the work of human hands, such as improving operational efficiency or choosing some high quality packaging to represent your business.

While initially automation may require extra training and education for those who are concerned with its operation, it means that they’ll have much more time for innovation and putting the commercial needs of the business first. Automation is a great way to improve the customer experience by reducing the time between ordering and fulfilment, so that your business can better serve customers.

We hope that with our tips, you’ll be on your way to improving the customer experience by working smarter and growing your business. Often, the best way to make a big impact on processes is to make yourself more aware of where any errors may lie and innovating ways to improve and better achieve company goals.

Alex Jones is a content creator for Kendon Packaging. Now one of Britain's leading packaging companies, Kendon Packaging has been supporting businesses nationwide since the 1930s.