Mark Dohnalek | December 20, 2017
If your product is one that you know goes through seasonal cycles of demand, you’re probably well-versed in planning for times of feast and famine, as it were.
You know when to ramp up production, and when to roll back. You know when to put more focus on logistics and distribution, and when to put more employees on order fulfilment.
But if you’re launching a new product, or you’re experiencing an unexpected surge in orders, it can be challenging to manage all the new demand without compromising quality and order accuracy.
Yet many companies go through this, especially during the holidays. Here are a few tips for dealing with those unexpected surges and keeping up with demand.
Make supply chain flexibility a goal right from the start.
Supply chain flexibility is vital to remaining competitive in the global market today. Although companies have largely benefited from a greater ability to reach more customers in more countries in recent decades, this has also created much more uncertainty in terms of customer demand.
While it’s easier for a consumer to order a product, it’s also easier for a customer to cancel or change their order. This is why supply chain flexibility is so important.
Companies should build in some measure of supply chain flexibility as soon as possible, whether or not any demand surges have occurred.
This can look like a built-in time buffer for getting a product from manufacturer to consumer.
It can look like choosing a manufacturer that can manage both small and large product runs.
It can look like developing a strong network of suppliers you can call on as backup, if needed.
If you’ve got flexibility incorporated into your supply chain from the beginning, you’ll be in a much better position to handle the ups and downs of global demand. And if you don’t, once your surge has been handled, take the opportunity to reconfigure the way your supply chain is working.
Keep your marketing, manufacturing, and distribution arms in communication.
Inter-departmental communication isn’t always a priority, but when it comes to preparing for surges, keeping your marketing people talking to your manufacturing people can be important.
Here’s an example. You’ve got a product that’s seen modest, steady demand throughout its life. This fall, it was featured in a major media outlet’s gift guide. You can count on a surge of orders just from that product placement.
Big, traditional outlets aren’t the only ones that can have a big influence on your product’s demand, though. Your marketing team should also be monitoring your social media and blog mentions, as a mention on a popular blog, or a tweet by a major social media personality, can trigger a major increase in demand, too.
Partner with an outside product development firm or implement an ERP/MRP solution.
If your company needs more assistance managing your supply chain, implementing flexibility, or dealing with unexpected demand surges, partnering with a full-service product development firm can be the right choice.
These firms can offer you a team of supply chain professionals whose job it is to monitor and address any changes, disruptions, or quality issues at any point in your supply chain.
Another option is to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) solution. These software systems can be of huge help in keeping all the many parts of your product development and production processes running smoothly.
For more, read my post “How Manufacturers Can Compete in an Age of Both Globalization and Localization.”
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