supply chain management

Retail Logistics Managers: Five Ways to Optimize Your Supply Chain

Getting the most out of your supply chain can translate to better business and improved cost savings. So, how can you optimize your supply chain? Here are five tips to help you get the most out of your network.


Communicating with everyone along your supply chain is key to keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. Keeping your shippers and suppliers in the loop will help keep you from running out of popular items and being overstocked with others.

The companies you work with will also benefit from open lines of communications: suppliers will have a better idea of when to ramp up production or cut back and your transportation supplier will be better able to plan their routes.

There are even further insights to be mined if everyone on your supply chain shares data. Analysis of your entire supply line may reveal new areas of improvement and opportunities to save time and money for all parties involved.

Smart Supply

Managing multi-source supply chains means keeping track of multiple moving parts. When sourcing merchandise, look for ways to make your network more efficient.

Take a look at your suppliers to see if there are opportunities to combine shipments. Do the cost savings associated with lower manufacturing costs get eaten up by having to ship the products further? Especially among a large supply network, there are often many opportunities to simplify operations and cut costs.

Track the Trends

Tracking trends will position you to supply your customers with the latest products faster than your competitors.

“Customer preferences change often and what’s popular or hot at one moment may not be at the next,” said clothing store owner Mackenzi Farquer. “Staying on top of industry trends and making sure that you offer what customers want at that particular time is extremely important.”

Keep in mind the lead time your supplier will need when you order something new. By anticipating trends, you can get your order in as soon as possible, reducing delay for your customers.

Use the Latest Tech

There are plenty of technology tools available to help you track and manage your supply chain. Partner with suppliers and freight companies that are also using the latest technology to unlock all of the benefits that come with it.

Using a shipper with in-vehicle GPS means you can know exactly when a shipment will arrive. That means your receiving department can schedule more efficiently. Sales floor managers can also plan to have extra staff on hand to set up displays or restock merchandise.

Stick to What You Know

Keeping everything in-house can make sense for small businesses short on cash. But as you grow, outsourcing some tasks and projects might make more sense for your company. All along the different links that make up the supply chain, outsourcing and contracting have become more commonplace.

Ninety percent of manufacturers have some level of outsourcing, with 30 percent contracting out 40 or more percent of their manufacturing. In the logistics industry, 55 percent of companies outsource at least 40 percent of their work.

Take an inventory of skills on your team to see if there are areas where outsourcing and reallocating talent might create greater efficiencies.

If you need a partner to help you strategically manage and successfully move your products out of the port and onto their final destination, be sure to download our latest eBook — Speeding Time-To-Shelf and Cutting Costsa must read for today’s Logistics Managers.