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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide, rippling effect on the world of business and commerce, many of which will be felt well after the various quarantines and shutdowns come to an end.

Between the shortage of certain goods brought on by the pandemic, as well as the sharp increase in online shopping and ecommerce due to various states’ stay-at-home orders, the supply chain has been hit as hard as many other industries, if not harder.

Whether it’s a shortage of products or a sudden change in how orders are processed, the supply chain of today (and, most likely, tomorrow) needs to be able to keep up with any sudden alterations to how business is done and how work is performed both during and after the pandemic.

If you’re worried about being able to keep up, here’s a few of the most common supply chain issues, developments, and changes we’ve encountered in warehouses during the pandemic, and what you can do to get around them:

 

High-Demand Products: You’ve likely seen a lot of products going out of stock more often, or taking longer than normal to replenish. This is going to be a common problem these days, and while it’s impossible to prevent entirely, there are ways you can minimize the impact on your business.

Work with your suppliers to streamline the ordering process in the event of a product shortage. See what you can do to simplify the amount of SKUs you order from each vendor, and find backup suppliers to contact in the event of a product shortage – and, when you do, make sure to work out flexible payment terms in the event of a shortage.

 

Increased Warehouse Capacity: The amount of ecommerce orders coming in from nearly every channel has led to an uptick in warehouse demand. This has led to warehouses needing to staff up, while still finding ways to encourage sanitation and social distancing. If your office team has been brought down to the floor due to increased products both coming in and leaving the warehouse, make sure you have enough warehouse shelving and wire shelving to keep up with the increased demand.

 

Priority Shipments: Many businesses, logistics providers, and shipping companies have had to make the difficult decisions lately on what shipments and products to prioritize, and which ones to delay to save capacity for the shippers themselves. Depending on your position in the product distribution cycle – whether you sell directly to customers or work as a distribution center for other retail outlets – you may need to start sifting through your inventory and declaring certain products as higher priority than others to ensure deliveries are made consistently and reliably, even if some of your customers may get a little disappointed with how long it takes.

 

Stay Flexible: The changes in business that COVID-19 has dumped on all of us have caused a lot of changes to be made in certain areas of commerce and retail. Many businesses are switching from a focus on distribution centers to a model that ships directly to the consumer, or one that ships more directly without as many stops in the distribution chain. This will likely cause a lot of changes to your warehouse, but it’s important to be able to adapt to these changes as soon as possible. If your primary retail partner needs you to be able to ship directly to consumers instead of to their retail outlets like before, make sure you’re able to staff up an outbound shipping department and send out products just as quickly – if not faster – than you sent them to their retail outlets. The “new normal” will take a lot of forms for warehouses and supply chains, and being able to keep up will make a world of difference for your business.

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