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The efficient distribution of goods from the origin to the customer and the point of consumption is a cost and time management process. Choosing the best method(s) of transportation can be a difficult choice and there are international laws and regulations to consider too if you are moving goods between countries. Evaluating and selecting the best delivery option(s) are not only going to save time and money but can also give your business the competitive edge whether in terms of passing cost savings on to the consumer or maximising profit(s).

Supply Chain

The movement of data, goods, services and finance around the country or across international borders requires knowledge of the Supply Chain. A Supply Chain is a system of organisations, people, activities, information and resources used to move a product or service from supplier to customer. It may require numerouse points of delivery and may not be as simple as moving between from location A to B. Planning is vital to ensure the best choices are made for your business trading activities but the Supply Chain is not only about planning.

Planning

The planning requires researching into potential alternative methods of transport and not only the known options.

Sourcing

Key processes in the sourcing process include ordering, receiving, managing inventory and authorising supplier payments.

Manufacture and Assembly

After taking delivery of the raw materials the company manufactures the product, tests the quality of the finished product, arranges packaging for shipping and time management for the schedule of delivery.

Logistics for Delivery

The schedule for delivery by organising customer demand (customer orders) and invoicing customers and receiving payments.

Returns process

Faulty goods and services will need to be returned and excess or unwanted products will also need to be managed.

Compiance with Laws and Regulations

Finance, human resources, IT, management, portfolio management, product design, sales and quality assurance are the main business activities to consider.

Data Management and the Supply Chain

Data is more important in today's Supply Chains than in the past and IT Investment can improve the business performance by means of predicting shifts in demand. Analyzing data in real time and minimal latency is only maximised with the implementation of IT management systems where data analysing is paramount to an efficient Supply Chain. For example Flights, Hotels and Car Hire prices adjust dynamically to meet demand. By using analytical software, the pricing decision can be made easier if not completely automated. Data from your suppliers and intermediaries can also help if you can gain access; Improved collaboration with suppliers and cross-company software integrations can help understanding falls and rises in demand. Furthermore knowledge and prevention of cyber-attacks should be solved before the problems arise.

Information tracking is very important and this information maybe internal to your company or shared with other companies and obtained from other stages of your supply chain (ie. suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation, logistics providers and retailers)

Analytical software tools implemented within the Supply Chain help by automatically allocating resources and schedule work based on the sales forecast. Furthermore preventing problems such as incorrectly picking the wrong quantities (given predicted demand changes which IT systems can identify) is very important.

Supply Chain also involves the product-lifecycle as the product in demand today may be superceded or become less demanded in the future. Data collation is critical to help identify trends and changes in demand too.

Agile Supply Chain Solutions

In today's economy consumers can choose to buy products and services from multiple sourcessuch as in stores, online, and more. An agile supply chain can deliver on those expectations. In ther past the Supply Chain was pretty simple but today agility is becoming more important. The ability to be agile and meet with changing demands and expectations is key to success and this is often achieved by effective data management.

Outsourcing the Supply Chain

If you are good at making a product or or service then managing the Supply Chain within your business may not be the most profitable solution. Your business could be hindered if you take on too much whereas outsourcing the Supply Chain to another company may be the most profitable option. With your focus of product development rather than the Supply Chain you should consdier the benefits of outsourcing the Supply Chain.

Exchange Rates, the Supply Chain and Logistics

Often exchange rates are overlooked as your business cannot affect exchange rates. However there are steps you can take to manage exchange rate risk(s). Futures Contracts enable you to know with certainty exchange rates for currency transactions in the future. Plus managing your business planning can help to minimise affects of exchange rate changes such as having warehouse or office locations in cheap labour locations, locating warehouses close to raw materials and more. It is worth considering that if you outsource the Supply Chain and exchange rates change considerably the company you use for outsourcing may not bring to your attention the risk(s) associated with currency exchange rate fluctuations because to gain the contract for your Supply Chain it may not be favourable for them to explain the potential problems. Therefore, it is down to you as the business owner or manager to research and weigh up different options with dealing in international currencies.

Product Differentiation and Niche Market Products and Services

Often if you try to cater for the mass market you will face competitive pricing and other businesses that can change to influence the success of your business activities. If you focus on product differentiation(s) or focus on a niche market you will find that market penetration is easier and pricing is not as competitive.