Logistics roadblocks amid festive rush: How MSMEs can ace managing inventory and warehouse, goods safety

October 28, 2020 12:18 PM

Logistics for MSMEs: Augmenting warehouse capacity such as renting temporary warehouses to store the seasonal inventory and hiring temporary but dedicated delivery vans will improve logistical capability as well as operational efficiency.

consumer sentiment, consumer demand, financial services, digital payments.The festive season presents SMEs with the perfect opportunity to revive their business and turn it into a lucrative one.
  • By Nakul Singh

Logistics for MSMEs: The impact left by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has been felt profoundly across the world by individuals and businesses alike. Supply chains have been brutally hit due to heavy restrictions on mobility and small and medium businesses nationwide have borne the brunt of it. Further adding to their woes is their low financial resilience and business size which makes them highly vulnerable during a crisis. As the economy gradually reopens after a series of country-wide lockdowns, SMEs are also beginning to get back on their feet. With the country’s grandest festive season approaching, small and medium enterprises are gearing up to compensate for the lack of business over the past six months by boosting sales and revenues. The festivities are in full swing and SMEs are opting to take their business online to expand their reach and increase business growth.

However, SMEs who opt for online platforms often hit certain roadblocks, especially in terms of logistical services that prevent them from scaling their business. Being one of the fundamental aspects that help a business run smoothly, efficient logistical operations is vital during the festive season when demand surges drastically. Here is a brief guide on how to tackle the challenges SMEs face and logistics strategies they can adopt for seamless operations.

Inventory management: Foundation of Efficient Operations

First and foremost, inventory management sets the course of your business during the festive season when demand soars. Efficient inventory management lays the foundation for seamless operations, and for this, liquidated inventory is necessary. Liquidating inventory offers the flexibility required to scale the business while catering to the growing demand. Since the festive season brings heightened demand, brands often stock up on goods that are projected to be in-demand. It is best to split the inventory and store it in two-three warehouses to avoid any last-minute chaos and delayed deliveries.

Another reason to split the inventory is that despite lockdown restrictions being eased, a sudden spike in the number of cases in a particular area could result in the locality being cordoned off as a red zone. This would make it nearly impossible to ship the goods to customers, ultimately creating a subpar delivery experience. There may also be instances where certain marketplaces enforce restrictions on warehouse movements which means that the inventory might need to be moved before the restrictions are announced. So, ensure that there are no stockouts or bulk storage of inventory to boost customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction.

Warehouse Management is Key

The sudden surge in demand means that brands need to ramp up agility to scale their operations. Augmenting warehouse capacity such as renting temporary warehouses to store the seasonal inventory and hiring temporary but dedicated delivery vans will improve logistical capability as well as operational efficiency. Additionally, introducing fleet management with real-time updates when dispatching orders through multiple vendors will make it easier to track the movement of the goods. For this, tech-based solutions are ideal. Businesses can keep track of the parcels through every step of the way until they are safely handed over to the customer either through tech-enabled solutions developed in-house or with the help of third-party apps.

Also read: Covid mutes MSMEs’ apprentice hiring outlook for H2 2020; only this many firms looking to hire more

Another critical aspect is the packaging. Along with inventory and warehouse management, packaging of goods should also be on top of the priority list for brands as the festive season rush leaves room for rough handling of parcels that can damage the goods.

Safety is Priority

One of the most common, unfortunate mistakes SMEs make is being negligent of security and cutting costs on it. With huge amounts of inventory being stored, the chances of theft and pilferage of goods are high in case of a lack of robust security. Installing CCTV cameras, appointing guards, and other such simple measures will prove to be an investment and go a long way in diminishing the risk of theft or damage to the goods. Smart, automated warehouses are the perfect solution to secure your inventory and avoid last-minute chaos during the festive season. It would also prove useful to avail insurance for the inventory so that there is no monetary loss in case of theft or damage.

We live in challenging times where we cannot afford to let safety and hygiene take a backseat. In addition to securing inventory, it is the need of the hour to ensure that the health of staff is secured too. Staff, particularly those on the frontlines play a crucial role in ensuring the delivery of goods happens in a seamless and timely manner. Providing them with certified training on the best practices of hygiene and safety will protect them as well as the customers. Businesses can also obtain Covid insurance for employees to safeguard their wellbeing. Besides this, regular workplace sanitation, inventory sanitation, and making it mandatory to wear masks and gloves on the premises are some simple measures that can make the area Covid-safe. The festive season presents SMEs with the perfect opportunity to revive their business and turn it into a lucrative one. Adopting simple yet effective strategies in logistics management will increase operational efficiency and script the brand’s success in the long run.

Nakul Singh is the Co-Founder of ANS Commerce. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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