Tag Archives: supply chain management

Supply Chain Strategy: 3 Options For Better Management

A strategy is a crucial part of any business, and it is even more important when thinking about a complex system like a supply chain. The term ‘strategy’ is often confused with what it’s not, or is considered to be a vaguely-meaning fancy word. However, businesses with a well-thought-out, long-term strategy reach and exceed their goals and are better at surviving turbulent times, compared to short-sighted management techniques.

What is a supply chain management strategy?

Supply chain management strategy is a set of decisions, choices, and ways of management that bring the most efficiency at a lower cost and protect the company from certain risks. Strategy in supply chain management involves deciding on supply chain structure, working models, suppliers, level of agility, products and locations, partners, transportation strategy, and more.

3 options to include in your supply chain management strategy:

1. Predictable planning

One of the key aspects of efficiency in supply chain management is demand-driven decision making. Bringing predictability into your supply chain can boost profitability and lower manufacturing costs. Predictable planning means investing in talents and technology to enhance analysis and data-driven conclusions that will allow you to forecast changes in demand and trace key trends in the market.

2. Agility and resilience

Recent events have shown that you cannot predict certain things, and market conditions are changing too fast. That’s why the most prominent strategy for modern businesses is building resilience and flexibility throughout their supply chains. This includes a variety of suppliers and partners, agile inventory, better cooperation between parts of the supply chain, and more. Rigid structures are fading away because flexibility lets you adopt new strategies faster, and survive shuffles in the market.

3. Integration

In order for a supply chain to be resilient, it has to be integrated. From production to retail, cross-cooperation in the supply chains is the cornerstone of efficiency. The more transparent and accessible operations and interactions within the entire structure are, the easier it is to see gaps and quickly fix arising issues.

How Coronavirus Has Disrupted The Meat Supply Chain In The U.S.

Meat supply chains in the U.S. have been severely affected by the coronavirus. In particular, the most hard-hit industry within the food supply chain was meat processing. Since numerous workers have tested positive for COVID-19 on multiple meat plants across the country, the entire supply chain was disrupted.

What is going on with the meat plants?

At the end of April, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest meatpacking association in the U.S., has stated that 20 industry workers have died because of the virus, and more than 5,000 were infected or hospitalized. Meat plants were forced to shut down, as they have become the cluster of infection, which caused a lack of meat supply to retailers. According to UFCW, the factories’ closure resulted in a 25% drop in pork slaughter and a 10% drop in beef production.

How has the coronavirus disrupted the meat supply chain?

The issue became known nationwide, which has resulted in panic-buying among consumers, with all the meat products being sold out from grocery stores, fast food, restaurants, and supermarkets. The retailers have responded with setting up purchasing limits to stop overbuying. Now, with multiple meat processing plants being shut down across the country, farmers don’t have a place to sell their products. With high supply and high demand, meat supply chains suffer from a severe disruption in the processing sector.

The U.S. has the largest rate of meat consumption per capita, which clearly means a crisis in the meat supply chain can’t go unnoticed. The issue became so critical that the White House initiated the Defense Production Act to ensure the proper supply of meat in the stores.

What is wrong with America’s food supply chains?

Apparently, the disruption of the meat supply chain appears to be solely an American issue. In Europe, which has also been hard hit with the impacts of the pandemic, there are no signs of meat industry disruption. Why is that? In fact, the trouble with the U.S. meat processing industry is that it is extremely centralized and consolidated, while in the UK or Italy, meat vendors are usually small, local, and independent companies.

The monopoly of certain companies, like Tyson Foods Inc., which accounts for almost two-thirds of the entire meat processing in the U.S., has made meat supply chains hardly dependent and interconnected. Eventually, this is the reason for also making it extremely vulnerable to the damage. Hopefully, the industry will drift towards building a more resilient supply chain to prevent such a situation in the future.

Building a Resilient Supply Chain

Regardless of the circumstances, a company’s ability to survive disruptive processes and events is one of the key differentiators of a successful business strategy. The thing is, most companies start to realize its importance only when the storm already happens. In the majority of cases, risk management strategy sits far down the list of business priorities and often can be put on the backburner of business plans.

Today, there are more supply chain threats than ever before. And it’s not a matter of if a disruption occurs, it is a matter of when it occurs. Unpredictable events are called unpredictable for a reason, of course, but there is a systematic regularity of such ‘black swans,’ which is often neglected by the companies. Whether it is a natural disaster, the unexpected crash of the economy, or a virus outbreak, unpleasant processes are bound to happen at some point.

However, some companies appear to handle such disruptions far more successfully than others. This is because they have a strong, advanced risk management strategy when others don’t. Making your supply chain more resilient can help you strengthen your business and make it through a critical time.

How to make your supply chain more resilient?

In the business environment, resiliency means a company’s ability to recover and get back to normal operations, including the time this recovery takes to happen. By adopting certain practices, you can reduce the time needed to bounce back from serious disruptions, and minimize the damage.

Extend the network of suppliers

Good and trusted relationships with your suppliers are a key factor in a successful risk management strategy, even if you have a small circle of highly trusted vendors. However, it is more of an exception than a rule. If you don’t have complete visibility into your partnership with suppliers, it’s better to have more options to choose from. Usually, if a key supplier fails, it leads to a serious supply chain disruption. Having more partners you can turn to greatly increases your supply chain resilience.

Cross-mobility and standardization

Another useful practice for risk management is adapting standard procedures and layouts for operations and product manufacturing. Implementing identical techniques at all your facilities and adjusting inventory to having semi-ready products makes your supply chain way more flexible. This way, you can easily move production to another facility, or transport materials and workers among warehouses and factories, because core processes are the same everywhere.

Circular supply chains and visibility

Moving from linear, sequential supply chain models has been a trend in recent years, and that’s for a reason. Having a transparent, well-integrated supply chain keeps you in line with all the current processes happening, and allows you to define the problematic areas at an early stage. Visibility and simultaneous monitoring also speeds up responses to disruptive processes, therefore eliminating the damage.

Communication and empowerment

Corporate culture plays a crucial role in creating a resilient supply chain. The more aware and informed your employees are at all stages about the processes happening in the company, the more it helps you during a disruption. Companies with rigid centralized structures and shallow communication have to spend tons of time informing employees when it’s already too late, fixing their mistakes, and hindering the critical responses to disruption. At the same time, businesses, where workers are clearly aligned with the event flow and are empowered to make decisions and take action are more prone to faster, and more efficient recovery after a shake.

Analyzing previous disruptions

Learning through your own mistakes is the best way to prevent the same outcome in the future. Analyzing all the previous disruptions that occurred in your company’s timeline can help figure out weak spots and useful practices. Large disruptions are not the only ones companies can learn from. Small discrepancies happen every day, and the more experience a company has, the more it is likely to demonstrate good resiliency.

How Does Coronavirus Impact Global Supply Chains?

The highly contagious virus known as COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. With hundreds of thousands of people infected globally, the coronavirus revealed itself as a huge threat not just for the health industry, but also to the global economy. Supply chains, in particular, are being affected by coronavirus.

Coronavirus impact on the global economy

One of the first to feel the damaging economical impact of the infection was the stock market. The UK index plunged more than 10 percent, making it the worst day since 1987. In France and Germany, the drop was even bigger, falling 12 percent. With Japan’s Nikkei 225 index settling at 4.4 percent lower, the U.S. shares experienced a significant drop on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones plunging by 5.8%. This is the greatest stock fall off since the 2009 financial crisis.

How does coronavirus affect global supply chains?

Such a substantial economic disruption couldn’t leave the supply chains and freight industry untouched. In fact, more than 75 percent of companies have declared their supply chains were disrupted by the unraveling of COVID-19. According to The Harvard Business Review, the peak of the infection hasn’t even started yet, at least in the U.S. It is uncertain what the final damage will look like. But supply chains need to take precautionary measures, and the sooner the better.

To stop the spread of the infection, governments are taking restricting measures to prevent further damage. Particularly, in the U.S., President Trump has suspended all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days.

How to handle the coronavirus disruption:

Despite that the situation is uncertain, companies can take measures to hinder the damaging effect of the crisis:

  • Have an extended network of carriers and suppliers
  • Analyze and check the parties you are working with, define where exactly they ship from, is it safe, and what safety measures they are taking
  • Think of inventory in advance and buy more supplies if possible
  • Stay in touch with your customers and clients – make sure to provide them will all the necessary information about the changes in operations and other important factors.

With the majority of companies having suffered severe disruption due to this global phenomenon shows just how unprepared supply chains are to such events. Eventually, this proves that risk management, supply chain resilience, flexibility, and safety policy will be among top priorities and trends for businesses in the upcoming years. Most likely, the crisis in the economy will prolong and companies will need time to recover the operations, depending on the current damage they are facing.

5 Key Supply Chain Management Trends for 2020

Changing market demands and technological advancements are driving many transformative processes to the supply chains. There is a lot of noise and buzzwords when it comes to trends and technologies that will influence the way supply chains operate. Not all of them can make a huge impact, but there are a couple of supply chain management trends that will actually reshape modern supply chains.

What are the key supply chain management trends in 2020?

Focus on inbound freight management

Supplier relationships will become a primary focus for businesses, especially for retailers. Vendor management is an important aspect of supply chains that defines many factors, from on-time deliveries to your success in sales and customer satisfaction. Apparently, inbound freight management can also cost you way more than it should, if it’s managed and planned by the suppliers. Companies start to recognize the opportunities for improvements within supplier relationships and implement different solutions like vendor management retail programs.

Flexibility and integration

In the upcoming decade, global supply chains will also become more flexible. The need for agility is caused by the fast-paced and changing environment of the global economy. New supply and demand requirements, new trends, and technologies that need to be implemented cause companies to be more flexible in adapting innovations. Businesses who will be more quick and agile in adjusting to the trends are more likely to outrun the competitors and stay relevant in the market.

AI and automation

Certain innovations have already impacted supply chains, and the new decade is expected to bring more AI-driven solutions and advanced software. Technology impacts every link of the supply chain, from data analysis and storing to automated warehouses. AI-enabled software will definitely go from a buzzword to a must-have for global companies.

Circular supply chains

Also, global supply chains are shifting from linear models to circular. In a circular supply chain, unused products are recycled, and the general production cycle is shorter and more efficient. This lets companies save costs on materials and be more sustainable.


Essentially, sustainability and green logistics remain a hot trend in supply chain management. More companies become concerned about their reputation and brand reputation, so eliminating carbon footprint and taking different measures towards sustainability will most likely increase loyalty among customers.

Why Should You Consider a Career in Logistics?

The logistics industry is a large and prospering sector of a global economy. However, it isn’t normally an attractive industry to many new graduates, despite its potential. Many young people assume logistics is a monotonous job, and that can’t be further from the truth. The logistics and transportation industry offers a vast variety of positions, financial stability, networking and possibility for growth. Additionally, it tightly integrates with other industries, which makes work even more diverse. Pursuing a logistics career can be a rewarding and exciting decision.

What does a logistics company do?

A logistics company provides planning and execution of moving freight, as well as arranges all the processes within a businesses supply chain. Therefore, you can try a variety of different jobs like a consultant, analyst, supply chain manager, purchasing manager, freight broker, etc.

Why choose a logistics career?

Stability and sector growth

Logistics is one of the core industries in the global economy, worth more than $1.3 trillion with 8.5 percent in the U.S. GDP.  It’s also one of the fastest-growing and developing sectors in terms of career development. When you land a job in the logistics industry, you can be sure to have solid ground under your feet.


Unlike many other industries, logistics is an extremely wide field for career development. It also means that you don’t need narrowly specialized education to enter a logistics job. Since the industry intertwines with many other areas, you can have a wide platform to start your career in.

Financially rewarding

Due to its tremendous size and impact, the industry offers financial stability and rewards to good specialists. The average salary of a logistician in the U.S. is $55,000, with entry-level jobs starting at $35,000 ranging to more than $100,000 annually for top executive positions. Many of logistics jobs connected to sales are commission-based, so there are plenty of possibilities to make a living in the logistics industry.


In the logistics industry, education type is not the primary concern for hiring companies. Your skills and experience will contribute much more to a potential job. Many logistics positions are tightly connected with communication and management, so personal traits will also help you succeed in the field.

Opportunity for growth

Logistics is not only diverse in terms of offered positions, but it is also a place where you can always grow professionally. If you start at a small role, chances are there are multiple upper levels to climb. For people who seek new opportunities and professional development, a logistics position can become a challenging yet rewarding job.

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3 Reasons to Use a 3PL For Retail Supply Chain

With increasing competition in the retail market, it has become very challenging for retailers to efficiently manage their supply chains. Essentially, a smooth retail supply chain strategy is a fundamental part of a positive customer experience, and retail companies strive to reach the golden standard of order fulfillment and fast delivery.

The thing is, most of the retail companies are not experts at logistics and supply chain management, and they don’t have dedicated departments for this branch of business. So, to make their online and omnichannel strategy work, retailers turn to 3PL’s for help. According to Pinsent Masons study, 88% of retail companies that outsourced any type of operation to a 3PL were satisfied with the results.

When is the right time to use a 3PL for a retail supply chain?

Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL is a great step that can take a lot of responsibility off of your plate and let you focus on the main business goals. Apart from time and money savings, third-party logistics providers can offer many substantial benefits to your retail business.


Many companies assume that outsourcing to a third party by default means spending more on service fees. However, all the efforts of a 3PL will eventually cost you less than an in-house supply chain management. Retail companies don’t have the negotiating power of a 3PL. Experienced providers work with thousands of carriers on special terms, and can offer you a much lower shipping price than the market average.

Additionally, a 3PL is a one-stop-shop for most of your supply chain needs. That means you don’t have to invest in warehousing, technology, and a logistics team. Ultimately, it’s cheaper to delegate logistics to the industry experts instead of learning every process from scratch and experiment on your own business.

Streamlined processes

Retailers have numerous distribution channels. Managing outbound shipments and consistently storing all of the data can be extremely challenging. 3PL’s take this burden away. Good logistics providers have special technology, like a transportation management system, where you can navigate any information on a certain shipment. In a dynamic world of retail, the ability to streamline transportation processes and track shipments is critical for a smooth business flow.


Another reason to outsource to a 3PL is their ability to adjust to your business needs. In most cases, 3PL’s provide an extremely wide span of services. You can outsource a single link, or an entire supply chain, and still be confident about the results. From transportation to inventory and returns management, you can always add up or take off operations from an outsourcing list.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, customer demands set the bar of performance level for retail companies. Those who strive to succeed in the competition constantly look for ways to improve their business flow and efficiency. Eventually, more and more retailers turn to 3PL’s to take care of their supply chains and get excellent results while focusing on their core competence.

PLS Solutions for Retail Logistics

PLS can become a reliable and dedicated logistics partner for your business. Learn more about our Retail Logistics Services!  

Best Practices for Inbound Freight Management

Every company works to analyze its supply chain costs and eliminate unnecessary costs and processes. Regardless of how complex your supply chain is, every part of it matters, however, not every part of the supply chain is assessed equally. Inbound shipments are often overlooked by companies, although they can account for a substantial amount of transportation costs. In fact, for some companies, inbound shipment costs can reach 40 percent from the entire transportation budget. That’s why it’s important to know some useful practices for inbound freight management.

Management practices for inbound freight

Inbound freight is cargo that comes from your suppliers and vendors. Therefore, it can be complicated and challenging to control inbound shipments and simultaneously balance relationships with your suppliers. Having robust inbound freight management can significantly reduce your transportation costs and provide better visibility into the shipping process.

Analyze your current strategy

Before trying any new strategies or making any changes, look at your current approach. Here are some key things to pay attention to:

  • Vendor compliance
  • Control of inventory
  • Visibility and tracking
  • Relationships with the supplier
  • Inbound freight costs

Try to honestly answer whether your vendors meet the compliance program, what level of supply chain visibility you have, and how much control you have over the movement of inventory. Essentially, relationships with your vendors matter even more. If you have poor communication, most likely you’re losing many benefits of a collaborative partnership.

Inbound freight management is a wide term. You can start with minor changes like checking on-time deliveries to a complete strategy shift and reload. Depending on the current state of things, you will need more or less effort to make the best out of your inbound shipments.

Inventory is the key to successful inbound management

One of the core factors of a good inbound strategy is the ability to properly control and manage your inventory. Increasing administration over the transit of your product and its quantity will help benefit your supply chain in the long run.


One of the crucial factors of successful inbound management is high visibility into the supply chain. Thanks to technology, companies can track their shipments through a transportation management system. Additionally, TMS lets you manage shipments and collect valuable data for strategic planning and defining inefficiencies.

Final thoughts

Proper inbound freight management can bring value to your supply chain and cut transportation costs. The key to a successful inbound strategy is to make it among your top supply chain priorities. A reevaluation of your current strategy will help outline working solutions for the future.

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How Does Supply Chain Management Work?

Supply chain management is a set of activities that includes supply, production, and distribution of a company’s goods. This production cycle plays an enormous role in any business. Proper supply chain management can reduce transportation costs and enhance productivity, and in order to succeed, companies should learn how supply chain management works.

What processes does supply chain management include?

A supply chain process can be described as a simple example: imagine a cake. First, raw eggs are transported from the farm to the grocery retailer. Then, the eggs are bought by a bakery to bake a cake. The cake is then either set out in the bakery or delivered to a grocery store to be sold to the final customer. All of the processes that stand in-between the raw egg and shelve-ready cake are classified as a supply chain.

So, how does supply chain management work? As a first look, the process can seem very complicated. However, supply chain contain many important key components that make it work properly.

What are the core components of supply chain management?


Essentially, transportation is one of the main components that make the supply chain work. Transportation plays a crucial role in every step of product movement, allowing companies to focus on arranging well-organized, smooth logistics for their goods.

Communication and visibility

Supply chains are different in every industry. No matter if it’s a small local business or a large enterprise, supply chain management is a complex process. With so many links involved, it requires proper handling. Without efficient communication between manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, and retailers, supply chains would fall apart in no time. That’s why consistent communication between all parties is crucial for efficient supply chain management. Another essential part of a successful production cycle is visibility into the supply chain. That means you can easily access and analyze all the needed information to make strategic decisions.


A complex supply chain suggests high financial responsibility. Bills, invoices, and reports are key points you can’t run production without. Accounting plays a large role in supply chain management since all of the payments have to be documented and stored in a proper way.

Final thoughts

Of course, supply chain management involves numerous other activities and processes. However, the above listed are the primary parts of any supply chain. Today, companies constantly work to enhance their efficiency by applying various supply chain management practices and technologies. With more innovations and automation, it becomes easier to focus on the strategic part of the supply chain management than on its execution.

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How Efficient Transportation Can Strengthen Your Supply Chain

Supply chain management (SCM) is the heart of a company’s operations. Therefore, the company strongly depends on how smooth your supply chain is. Maintaining a robust supply management strategy is complex since it involves numerous processes that require planning and constant control.

What is supply chain management?

SCM is a complex process involving the organization and execution of product flow from the supplier to final customer in the fastest and a most effective way. 

The role of logistics in supply chain management

Supply chain management is often confused with logistics management. However, logistics is just a part of the supply chain. Also, transportation is one of the key components in the entire product flow, and it is more of a glue that sticks every part of the operations together. Therefore, a robust logistics strategy can contribute to increased efficiency and ensure your supply chain survives a long run.

How effective logistics can benefit your supply chain

One of the main challenges in an efficient supply chain flow is risk management and sustainability. All the efforts are steered towards balancing the quality and the final price, so for many companies, it becomes a struggle of cutting costs while providing a good service at the same time.

transportation for supply chain

For an efficient supply chain, companies work on developing robust transportation solutions. A transportation network allows a company to reduce shipment costs and increase service levels with little disruption to any processes. A smooth transportation process mitigates delays, provides visibility into freight shipping and saves your company’s budget.

Working with a 3PL

Companies have to impress customers and innovate processes. 75% of 3PL users say 3PL’s provide new and innovative ways to improve logistics effectiveness. Regardless of mode or freight volume, 3PL’s can assess and tailor solutions to a company’s needs. Through a 3PL, companies can gather transportation and logistics information to forecast accurate needs, influence supply chain decisions and can ultimately grow the processes efficiency and customer service.

Your supply chain is just as good as your logistics is. Developing a beneficial transportation strategy is essential for smooth product flow. Partnering with a 3PL can take a hassle out of your company and is more cost-efficient than creating an in-house logistics department.

If you need help and expert consultancy with your supply chain management, contact us now with any questions you have.