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While the coronavirus continues to rear its ugly head in America, businesses have felt the impact at every part of the supply chain.

Even after the initial surge of ecommerce demand and warehouse shipments during the quarantine has decreased, online orders and direct-to-consumer shipping is still at an all-time high, and it’s had an impact on virtually every corner of warehousing – including the supply chain.

Your individual warehouse may be better prepared for the challenges posed by COVID-19 (social distancing, fluctuating staff levels, etc), but one optimized warehouse alone isn’t enough – you need to make sure your entire supply chain is flexible enough to handle the demands being placed on it by the coronavirus and its various after-effects. If you want to make sure your supply chain is up to snuff, here’s a few questions to ask yourself:


Keeping Your Supply Chain Flexible During Coronavirus

How many countries are involved in your supply chain? Even if you directly source your items from a distributor or vendor in your home country, the globalized nature of supply and manufacturing means you’re likely dealing with products from all over the world. The problem here is that different countries are seeing different rates of COVID-19 and different responses to it as a result, which can make everything that much harder to coordinate. As able, take stock of your most popular items to learn their country of origin to get a better idea of where things are coming from and what potential shortages you may encounter as a result.


How transparent is your supply chain overall? The modern supply chain can take a lot of different forms depending on how many moving parts are involved and where items are being shipped from. Right now more than ever, communication and transparency are key. Can you rely on your vendors and transportation providers to keep communication open and keep you aware of the process during shipment? Will you be the first to find out about shortages or other transportation issues? If your vendors can’t answer these questions, it may be time to find a partner that can keep you better aware of the situation.


How have your stock levels changed? Reports show that one of the biggest changes in shopping trends during the coronavirus has been in shopping habits. Consumers are routinely going out less frequently (to reduce the risk of infection) but buying much more when they do, so you may have to modify your on-hand stock levels to heights even above and beyond what you had before everything changed.


Do you have enough storage for everything? Of course, increasing the amount of inventory you keep on hand to meet this demand may need some restructuring of your warehouse itself. Make sure you have enough pallet racks, wire shelving, and other warehouse storage equipment to meet the increased demand and keep everything safely stored where it belongs.


Can you plan your inventory for the longer-term? Finally, you’ll need to make sure you can manage these inventory levels over a longer period of time. If you find yourself running short on an item more often, or have a more difficult time keeping certain items in stock, you might need to up your orders or arrange for shipments from other vendors that can keep your stock at the levels it needs to be.


By making these adjustments now, you can better get out ahead of the demands your warehouse will experience in the future, while we all work to figure out what “normal” means now.

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