How can I mitigate the effects of unforeseen events that might affect the supply chain?

Whether it’s heavy snow halting the main transport routes, natural disasters or civil unrest, worldwide incidents of all scales can have serious knock-on effects throughout the supply chain.

Jim Brownell, vice-president of retail industry solutions at GT Nexus, says these kind of events can cause big problems for retailers.

He says: “Taking the Japanese earthquake as an example, many companies were impacted as factories in the region halted production of key product components. Due to the rigidity of traditional supply chain management techniques, many companies took considerable time to reroute stock and source alternative raw materials, causing severe supply issues later down the line.”

A vendor management system can help to mitigate the impact unforeseen events have on the supply chain. If supply issues and delays look likely, utilising existing relationships - or the ability to extend partnerships or add partners to help - can make the difference in saving or not saving a season, which is crucial in such a tough economic climate.

Brownell says: “Understanding all of your vendor’s capabilities - such as materials stocked, factory production and locations, transportation providers, brokers, agents - is critical in being nimble and responsive as the supply chain changes to meet the needs of the business.”

Visibility is a key characteristic of a supply chain management system. Brownell says: “A 360-degree view of your supply chain, with data from supply chain partners, allows for increased flexibility.”