For a long time, it was a point of pride to say your product was Made in America. But with the global economy shifting, that’s becoming less and less practical from a business standpoint.
The internet has opened us up to a world of new opportunities. It’s made it easier to connect with people around the world and broadened our views. It’s also become a lynchpin in the growing global economy. With the supply chain industry booming there’s an increased need to go global to stay competitive.
Faster turnaround times, access to more customers, and better business insights are all incentives to take your business abroad. According to recent data, 48% of supply chain and transportation executives say they are experiencing the need to reevaluate warehouse locations due to the shifting trade patterns impacted by the U.S. economy. When it comes to going global with your business, the right time is now.
What is a global supply chain?
A global supply chain is the worldwide network where companies purchase or use goods that are manufactured overseas. Global supply chains require a variety of people, information, processes, compliance, and resources to run smoothly.
Everything from the creation and production of products, to the handling and distribution of materials, to the shipping of finished products to the customer, are part of the global supply chain process. The typical journey through a global supply chain is comprised of four different stages: supplier, manufacturer, distributor, and customer.
Benefits of a global supply chain
Higher product volume
As companies expand and look to reach new markets or even increase the amount of product they create, the need for a global supply chain becomes more important. By expanding your reach internationally, you can produce the same products at a cheaper cost, reach new customers, and expand the variety of products you can create.
Tips for managing a global supply chain
Understanding what makes up the nuts and bolts of a global supply chain is nothing if you don’t know how to manage one. Each of these five tips are designed to help you avoid the common mistakes associated with supply chain management.
1. Do your research
Creating a global supply chain isn’t as easy as choosing a location and getting started. There are a lot of geopolitical and logistical implications that can slow you down. Before you choose a location to expand your business into, be sure you understand the local laws surrounding business expansion and supply chain management.
2. Stay compliant
Expanding globally means you’ll need to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to your compliance. Knowing the risks associated with global supply chain expansion and having a plan to prevent issues is important.
Some companies will employ the help of a Chief Compliance Officer, while others use software solutions like operational risk management software to streamline the process. Whichever you choose, compliance with both local and international law is the most important part of the process.
There will always be risks when it comes to building a business. But taking things global presents a slew of new challenges you might not be aware of. One of the most common mistakes someone can make when expanding their operations globally is not accounting for the risks involved.
A supply-side risk happens on the production end of things. This can include limited access to raw materials needed to make products, extended wait periods on those raw materials, or a sudden increase in price due to local currency fluctuations. When you take your operation global there are many factors that are out of your control. Always be cautious and plan for situations like the ones mentioned here.
A demand-side risk happens once a product is finished. One of the most common demand-side risks come in the demand of the product itself. Sometimes you produce more products than there are people who want them, leaving you with unwanted goods on your hands. On the other hand, you might produce too few items and be met with high customer demand. This is often very hard to forecast which means the chances of you running into this issue are very high.
There are countless other risks at play that don’t fall under the compliance side of your business. A major weather event could disrupt your shipping and distribution plans, labor law changes could interrupt your workflow, and geopolitical politics could sour relationships between nations. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to change plans, because there’s no end to what might go wrong.
4. Perfect the process
There’s no use in expanding globally if you don’t have the basics down. Supply chain management in itself is a complicated business that requires keen attention to detail. Your supply chain includes partners working together to provide the raw materials for manufacturing, warehousing and storage, and distributors working to get the products into the hands of the customer.
Not only is the process itself a challenge, but maintaining the low cost and quality of products while scaling is important. The wrong type of material can compromise the structural integrity of a car, or the wrong ingredient can make food products unsafe to eat. Ensuring that your process to perfected can save you the trouble of a lawsuit, recalled products, or worse.
5. Optimize with software
Managing all of the different teams, vendors, and processes involved with global supply chain management can be tough. That’s why many people are turning to using a supply chain planning software to help streamline their workflow.
Supply chain planning software allows you to do the following:
Manage vendors both locally and internationally
Help plan, source, and organize the different parts of a supply chain
Provide tools for demand planning, inventory planning, replenishment planning, order planning, and production planning
And while supply chain planning software can’t take care of every small detail, it can help you automate many of the tasks that would otherwise be exposed to human error. This can help minimize overall risks, speed up the production process, and keep everything running smoothly.
There’s nothing easy about running an international business, but there are ways to lessen the burden along the way. Doing the work smarter and using technology to your advantage can help you outpace your competitors and reach more customers, with better products, faster than ever before.
Lauren is a Content Marketing Manager at G2. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and on the G2 Learning Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching true crime shows and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene. (she/her/hers)