Adding efficiency to your supply chain is a never-ending journey. There’s always an opportunity to improve. Often, these areas of opportunity present themselves when your organization or the market is fluctuating.

Efficiency can be continuously improved upon

Internal and external supply chain influencers can regularly affect your hard-earned efficiencies. It’s critically important to keep finding new ways to add efficiency for the changing conditions around you.

The next time you need to boost supply chain efficiency, start looking at either ways to reduce time spent on tasks or find opportunities to improve visibility to data. In this way, you will find new ways to do more with less, better meet customer expectations, and adapt quickly to change. Focusing on these goals will help ensure efficiency gains are implemented to the areas of your supply chain that need it most.

Look to automation and tools to help reduce the time spent on tasks

With the spread of COVID-19, every staff member in the foodservice industry now needs to focus additional time on safety and sanitation procedures. With added work comes less time to spend on other responsibilities. Everyone is already being asked to do more with less, so often hiring more employees is out of the question. So where can the time come from?

Certain routine tasks—completing paperwork, reviewing purchase orders (PO) for accuracy, and tracking orders for example—can eat up a lot of time when handled manually. The good news is that a strong PO management process and the right technology can offer automation that reduces the time necessary to complete this type of administrative work and allow your operators to focus elsewhere.

Visibility at all levels can help satisfy customer expectations

While knowing where food is sourced, how it’s transported, and other supply chain questions may not feel like it has much to do with efficiency, you might be surprised.

Gain insight into variability

Unstable demand—no matter the cause—is difficult to plan for. Perhaps COVID-19 restrictions have thrown off your number of customers. Maybe the need for multiple SKUs is affecting how you ship. No matter what the case, maintaining visibility into order status and changing demand is essential. Using this information can help you make smart decisions about your business.
Being able to answer when to place the next order, if consolidation is an option, and other questions can all affect your supply chain’s efficiency.

Use knowledge to mitigate risks

Maintaining key knowledge about fresh produce can serve a dual purpose. Consumers are more conscious of their food than ever. They’re honestly interested in where your fresh products are grown and if they’re being transported safely. Being open and transparent in sharing this information can satisfy customers, but perhaps even more importantly, it can help you easily determine if there was a safety breakdown in your supply chain that might put the food, your brand, and your reputation at risk.

Uncover unnecessary spending

Driving down supply chain costs always seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s to do list. Perhaps, now more than ever, understanding every cost component of your fresh product’s supply chain can help eliminate unnecessary spending. After all, tiny cost differences can drastically affect your budget over time.

Adaptability is key to efficiency

Any number of influences on supply and demand can affect your supply chain efficiency efforts. Even positive changes—expanding customer base, popularity of sale items, etc.—can reduce the efficacy of your hard work.

Choose your vendors and providers carefully. Focus on those who offer clear communication and are willing to collaborate on the right solution for your business—not a one size fits all, quick fix. Collaboration combined with the scale to offer new technologies and execute on advancements in transportation, warehousing, and operational areas can set your business apart.

No matter which area of supply chain efficiency you choose to focus on first, maintain an adaptable mindset in your approach.