Tips for Working with Supply Chain Partners in 2016

Dustin Caudell
Tue, Jan 12, 2016
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Manufacturers and distributors need to communicate with accurate data.

As companies plan future distribution paths, they may find 2016 holds different challenges and opportunities than previous years. The amount of global competition and innovative approaches to delivery force many businesses to explore new tactics. Previous best practices may not hold over, but if an organization has the right information, it can profit from the shifts in common supply chain operations.

Specialized Distributors
Craft products have exploded in recent years. The ability for small businesses to sell their products online encouraged consumers to buy handmade merchandise and other specialized items. The Texas Star Telegram said many local craft breweries will expand their operations in 2016 and have to choose whether to continue handling distribution themselves or partner with other organizations to help with their supply chain.

Some craft breweries are fearful of partnering with businesses that provide routine service and would rather keep distribution part of their internal operations so they can ensure a consistent brand quality. To appeal to these breweries, smaller distribution companies have sprung up offering particular features specifically designed for craft brewery needs.

As more craft businesses become successful, the supply chain logistics management market should see more startups providing specialized services based on certain industries and shipping demands.

More Links in the Chain
When companies take their products global, they often rely on distributors in foreign countries to handle final delivery. The segmentation of the supply chain occurs increasingly often abroad and at home, according to Industrial Distribution. Many organizations use a team of carriers with specialized knowledge of routes or particular areas.

In 2016, companies able to communicate with a large network of partners will have the advantage. Working with technology like automated data collection solutions allows organizations to capture and share insight into distribution needs. Modern companies should explore options like mobile devices and cloud storage to make information exchange and communication more convenient and accurate.

Many warehouse management teams use automated data collection devices on the shop floor to create numerical values for daily operations. As the supply chain grows and includes more partners, each individual responsible for inventory movement should utilize similar solutions to maintain a network of visibility.

Technology for Transparency
With more partners performing specialized tasks, new technology solutions aren't just beneficial, they are essential to stay on top of every step in the supply chain. Companies can't overlook anything. GreenBiz said modern informed consumers demand transparent business practices to look for unfair practices or actions that may harm product quality.

Industries like seafood use packaging solutions such as barcode data collection to monitor the freshness of materials in greater numbers. The RFgen white paper "The Food Traceability Survival Guide" explained how employees armed with mobile data collection devices can collect information from barcode software and report distribution actions as soon as they happen. Businesses should look for flexible solutions to accommodate their particular needs for 2016 and beyond.

Visibility Partners
Internal solutions for data collection and reporting help companies maintain oversight of how their employees and closest partners perform their tasks. If an organization's supply chain starts to cross into unfamiliar territory, it may need to trust information provided by partners more familiar with foreign practices or new markets., a commerce information resource, shared the story of a startup company, Segura Systems, which provides businesses with specialized oversight of supply chains in areas that often suffer from human rights violations. Segura Systems will monitor an organization's distribution path and partners to see if there are any problems. Once a company receives a clean bill of health, it can communicate information from the startup to demonstrate social responsibility.

The amount of business options available to the modern consumers allows them to be more selective when choosing a product supplier. Shoppers often go online to find businesses that give back to their community or provide benefits outside of normal business practices, and avoid those they see as harmful.

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