Many business owners have dealt with a variety of persistent challenges over the past year. They’ve had to face ongoing price hikes and tight labour markets. But supply chain shortages were just another obstacle they’ve learned to handle.

Due to this geopolitical tension between Russia, Ukraine and other countries has resulted in a significant demobilization of much of the supply chains. Mass-producing countries such China, however, have had much of their borders and ports for entry closed by the Zero Covid policies.

Recent SMB Retail Supply Chain Surveys on over 305 logistics and inventory professionals provide a vivid view of the challenges businesses faced in the past 12 month.

A key finding from the survey was that approximately 86% small-medium businesses had already been affected by the war in Ukraine. Smaller businesses aren’t always able access the best alternatives. 91% believe that larger companies are more able produce and acquire inventory faster.

Not only is geopolitical conflict a factor in the increase in supply chain problems, but so are other factors. The industry is already under pressure due to rising fuel prices, inflation and a shortage in truck drivers, warehouse workers and delivery workers.

Despite inflation eating away at their disposable incomes, consumer demand is not declining. In fact, the American consumer market has been resilient to continuing macroeconomic challenges.

Small business owners face ongoing headwinds that are affecting their bottom line performance. Even with increasing consumer demand, supply chain issues will continue to slow down revenues, which is something small business owners desperately want to avoid.

Businesses are optimistic that supply-chain issues won’t negatively impact their holiday performance. Holiday season is a time when businesses try to make up lost profits.

It’s not easy to navigate complex supply chain conditions. Here’s five ways that entrepreneurs and business owners can successfully navigate the challenging supply chain conditions ahead.

Diversify Vendors

Businesses should start considering diversifying their suppliers before the holiday season starts. Many businesses plan ahead, but small business owners should take advantage of what vendors they have.

In addition to having several vendors to choose from it’s a good idea also to look in the surrounding areas for suppliers. While it might mean that businesses will need to spend a little more on transportation costs, this ensures that the company has enough stock for the holiday period.

Bulk Order

Businesses in good financial standing can buy bulk. Doing so early will ensure your business is ready for any unexpected events.

If you do it correctly, bulk purchasing can be a risky business venture that could bring about significant rewards and risks. A business that decides to buy in bulk will run the risk of losing money if it is unable move large amounts of inventory. A second scenario is when a business doesn’t purchase in bulk and runs out of popular merchandise. This can have an even greater impact on the balance sheets at the end.

It is all about balance. Business leaders should ensure that they keep an eye on the most-sought-after items, while also keeping the less-popular products in stock.

Adjust Product Availability

A wide range of products can cause supply chain bottlenecks in businesses that offer them.

You can do this by identifying which products are popular and which have been neglected for months. Additionally, niche products and products that are difficult to find should be avoided during periods when there is high volume or consumer demand.

A simple offering and giving clients exactly the things they want during the busiest periods of the year is key to building a lasting business relationship with your customers.

Network with Suppliers & Vendors

A network with your existing suppliers and vendors will help you find new suppliers for any problems.

The best way to discover where you can cut costs on specific items is to network with other suppliers and vendors. You will also be amazed at how much you can reduce your monthly expenses during tough financial times.

It is also possible to build long-lasting relationships and a better understanding of your suppliers by networking with them more often. This makes it easier to navigate any supply chain problems.

Use efficient tools to track inventory

The last step that business owners can take in order to make it through the holiday season smoothly is to use the appropriate tools and resources for inventory tracking and monitoring. This will not only ensure sufficient stock, but also allow businesses to track and follow up on deliveries.

The use of the right tools can do more than ensure that shipments are delivered on-time. It makes sure that a business has a working system that continually monitors inventory and stock levels during peak traffic. It is an expensive investment, but it should be considered as a long-term investment and not just a quick solution.

Final Thoughts

Major challenges have already been faced by businesses this year. However, the holiday season could bring some relief for many struggling companies looking to overcome the long-standing problems in the supply chain.

The coming months will determine if the global supply network has recovered fully or if it is still suffering from a pandemic-induced problem. This trend looks likely to continue into the new Year.

The reality is that business owners cannot control every aspect of the world. However, they must be aware of what they can control. Not only does it show businesses that they are prepared for the future but it also shows their willingness and ability to adapt to new challenges.

By Manali