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Manufacturing and supply chain fundamentals

Manufacturing and supply chain fundamentals

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Manufacturing and supply chain fundamentals

The broader topic of manufacturing and supply chain can be overwhelming as a first-time founder, but the overall goal is simple: to get your product to the right place at the right time and in the right way. “The flow is going to look very similar, regardless of the type of product that you have,” says Sydni Price, Senior Data Analyst at Target. What makes each supply chain unique is the product specific touchpoints in between start and end points., 

When thinking about the structure between import and domestic product flows, while a big portion of the supply chain is going to look the same, the main difference boils down to product start points. Domestic products start within the United States and import products originate from outside of the U.S. For import products, one should consider extra time for international shipping until it gets to a port somewhere within the U.S. as opposed to shipping between different cities or states with domestic products.  

Lead time refers to the time product takes from the start of the process until it arrives at the final destination. When you are thinking about lead time, it can be considered in hours or days, depending on whether your product is moving between cities, states or from outside of the United States. Depending on the product’s size and how it flows, lead times can vary. All of this should be considered when thinking about the most optimal way that your product will have to flow within the supply chain.  

Time frame can mean two different things. Sometimes, time frame is used interchangeably with lead time. Other times, time frame can refer to specific manufacturing process timelines, the amount of time that it takes for you to create your product or the time it takes to have it ready for someone to pick up from you.  

When thinking about lead time and time frame together, both can vary dramatically depending on the type of product you have and how long it takes to get from the beginning of your supply chain (where it is being made and stored) to the end location (distribution center or store). If you have larger products or if your product is coming from overseas, you may have a longer lead time, which may mean that you are getting larger order quantities, but less frequently. Inversely, if you have smaller products or if they are coming from a location where it doesn’t take a long time to get them to their final location, you may have smaller order quantities, but those orders will be coming in more frequently. 

A common misconception from founders is putting a big focus on expansion. “Thinking that you need a larger manufacturing partner or capability before you have the sales and demand isn’t necessarily true,” explains Sydni. “You want to understand your brand’s manufacturing needs before you expand to accommodate that growth.” 

“Another misconception is thinking that your business has to get into stores in order to get the exposure that you think it needs, which discounts the power of a strong online presence,” warns Sydni.  

Ultimately, the number one thing that founders should keep in mind, according to Sydni, is prioritizing what’s best for you, your business and your product. That may look different from other products or brands that you’ve seen in stores or online. As a founder, you may have to push back or say no to something if it jeopardizes your product or the vision that you are trying to achieve for your business.  

For more manufacturing and supply chain fundamentals, check out the video above. 

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Post topic(s): Business advice

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