Navigating inventory struggles in 2022

2020 and 2021 have provided all sorts of new challenges that everyone, across every industry, has had to learn to navigate. Some of them were obvious from the start of the pandemic. Others have popped up in unexpected places along the way.

If you haven’t noticed, the entire supply chain has a few kinks in it. Chip shortages, labor shortages, material prices, plant shutdowns and import/export cycles have all compounded to make our lives more difficult. While we at Techrep can’t jump in to build gear or drive a boat, (though if we could we definitely would) there are some things that we can do to help you manage your supply chain and better your chances of closing your jobs on time.

Get in the Queue Early
In the past, when you were getting ready to order for a project you would probably call your rep to check stock. If it wasn’t available, you’d have to decide if you need to wait or if there is another acceptable option. These days, by the time you chase down all those options only to find out that nobody has product, you’ve lost valuable spots in the order queue.
What we would suggest instead is that you place the order and THEN check your other options. It’s not usually difficult to cancel an order, but inventory situations are changing so quickly that waiting a day could be the difference between getting product this month or 3 months from now.
Some options that are often available to help mitigate the risk of ordering early is to request a scheduled ship or a hold before ship. This way if you forget that you have placed this order and no longer need the product, it doesn’t show up on your doorstep one day and you get hit with a restocking fee.

Stock your Staples
If you’re a retailer, this is probably your standard operating procedure already. If you’re an integrator, this may or may not be something that you have had to worry about in the past. It may be time to take a look at your purchasing history. Are there things that you order on a more frequent basis than the ETAs that you are getting for those products? If so, order more than you need and stick the extras on a shelf. Of course, this requires an additional investment that you will need to account for, however when the next job comes along starting and finishing that sale faster will give you an advantage over your competitors.
If you aren’t sure what your staples are, ask us! We have that sort of data at our fingertips and would be more than happy to help you make an inventory plan.

Plan Ahead
When you are spending your day to day scrambling to find product, finish projects, close sales, etc, it can be difficult to keep an eye on the bigger picture. However, planning what your inventory needs might be for the year can save you a LOT of headache down the road.
Planning your inventory ahead can have a few benefits. It helps us help our vendors plan their inventory. Ultimately this could mean that the product is in stock when you need it or the lead time is at least more manageable. It can also give us the ability to prioritize fulfillment on projects that we knew about ahead of time. This isn’t always the case, but it often is.
Many people, including myself, get caught in the trap of thinking that planning too far ahead isn’t helpful because they don’t know enough about the future to make an accurate prediction. I have learned from many years of experience that the accuracy of this prediction doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does. Don’t get hung up on having the perfect plan. Just make the plan and adjust along the way.

Communication is Key
At Techrep, we are communicating with our vendors about inventory and order fulfillment every single day. We have experience that helps us navigate our vendors’ systems and procedures to make sales happen. The more we know about what your needs are, the more valuable we can be to you and your business.

Let’s start with a call. We can talk trends and what each of us is expecting to happen in the new year that we can plan for.