Business owners have faced many challenges throughout the year. From ongoing price rises to tight labour markets, supply chain shortages have been a constant obstacle.

Geopolitical tensions between Russia & Ukraine have also demobilized much of the supply-chain, while mass-producing nations such as China closed down large swathes of their borders due to its Zero Covid policy.

The SMB Retail Supply Chain Survey surveyed over 305 inventory and logistics professionals to get a clear picture about the challenges faced by businesses in the past twelve months.

According to the survey, 86% of small-medium business owners have been affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Smaller businesses may not always be able take advantage of alternative solutions. 91% respondents from retail felt that larger companies have the upper hand in terms of their ability to produce inventory more quickly and easily.

Supply chain problems have become more severe due to geopolitical conflict. An already tight-knit industry has been made more stressful by rising fuel costs, inflation, shortages of warehouse workers, truck drivers, delivery workers, and other factors.

Despite inflation taking a bite out of their disposable income, consumers demand has not dropped, as most Americans have shown resilience when confronted with ongoing macroeconomic problems.

However, for small business owners, the ongoing headwinds are only affecting their top-line performance. Even as consumer demand increases, supply chain problems will only cause revenues to plateau, something desperate business owners try to avoid as long possible.

Business owners are optimistic that supply chain issues will not affect their holiday performance as they approach the holiday season, which is when most businesses try to recover lost profits from the previous year.

It is not easy to navigate difficult supply chain conditions. And there will be a price. Here are five tips for entrepreneurs and business owners to navigate difficult supply chain conditions before the holiday season.

Diversify Vendors

Before the holiday season, it is important that business owners start to diversify their suppliers and vendors. Small business owners need to make the most of the vendors they already have.

Apart from the convenience of having several vendors to choose, it is also a smart idea to seek out suppliers in the same area as the business. This means that while businesses may need to pay some extra for transportation, it will ensure that the company is well-stocked for the holidays.

Bulk Orders

If you are able to purchase bulk quantities for your business, it is a good idea to plan ahead. You can be sure that your business will be prepared for anything that might come your way.

When done properly, bulk buying can come with many risks but also great rewards. If a business decides to purchase in bulk, but is unable or unwilling to move the majority of its inventory, it will face a loss. The opposite can be true for those who don’t buy in bulk and run out of popular items. This can make a bigger impact on your balance sheet by the end the season.

It’s all about balance. Business owners should make sure they buy the most in-demand items and save the less-popular ones for later.

Adjust Product Availability

Companies that offer many products might need to reconsider their offering to reduce supply chain bottlenecks.

It is best to look at which products are most in demand and which products have not seen much traffic for months. It is important to avoid hard-to find and niche products during high volumes and high consumer demand.

A clear offering, as well as giving clients exactly what they need during busy times of the year, is a key to a solid business and consumer relationship.

Networking with suppliers and vendors

You can also ensure that your shelves are stocked and your customers are happy by networking with your suppliers and vendors. This will make it easier for you to find other suppliers in case of any issues.

You can also network with suppliers and other vendors to identify where you can find a better deal on particular items. It’s also a great way to see what you can save when you are having financial difficulties.

Additionally, it is possible to establish long-lasting relationships with suppliers by increasing your networking with them. This will make it easier for you to resolve any supply chain issues.

You can track inventory using efficient tools

Businesses can also use these tools to manage their inventory levels and help them plan for the holidays. These tools will ensure enough stock is available at all times. Businesses can track delivery dates and know when to place follow-up orders.

It can be more than just making sure that your shipment arrives on time. It helps ensure that your business has a functioning system that monitors inventory levels and stock levels, even during peak traffic times. This is a costly investment but should be considered as a long-term commitment and not a temporary solution.

Final Thoughts

Already, businesses have been facing major challenges this past year. The upcoming holiday season could offer a chance to recover from these ongoing problems.

The next few months will reveal if the global supply chains have fully recovered, or if they are still battling a pandemic-induced problem that seems to be going on well into the new year.

Although business owners will not be able control all aspects of the environment, they should focus on the ones they can control and manage. Business owners who are well prepared and prepared not only show that they are ready for whatever comes their way, but also indicate that they are willing to adapt to and plan for future challenges.

By Manali