How To Manage Your Retail Supply Chain In Brexit Britain

Since we decided to leave the EU in 2016 and then had to live through an extraordinary time during the Covid-19 pandemic, UK retail business owners have come to terms with a radically changed business landscape.

There have been many challenges in retail supply chain management to overcome, including maintaining a retail supply chain that may use new trading rules when sourcing supplies from within Europe, as well as ensuring you have the right retail insurance cover in place for your business.

As UK retailers look at building strong relationships in a post-Brexit world, you must consider how these new trading rules will affect your retail business supply chain and be prepared for what lies ahead.

How Critical Is Better Post-Brexit Supply Chain Planning?

It is easy to look back and learn the lessons from the last supply chain disruption caused by Brexit. As soon as we knew Brexit would happen, consumer buying went into overdrive. There was a feeling of panic about the impact of Brexit on the supply of goods from Europe, which led to a massive surge in demand for products that are not readily manufactured in the UK or are exclusively sourced from European suppliers.

There was also tremendous pressure put on logistical and warehousing companies who were urged to stockpile inventory supplies for large retail operations, which also saw many smaller retail businesses squeezed out of the market.

As the world starts to settle down and return to normal, it is time to review your supply chain practices to see if you can be better prepared to ride out any further fluctuations in your supply chain.

How Can I Manage My Supply Chain To Avoid Brexit Disruptions?

If your retail business sources items from Europe or overseas, it can help identify these inventory items and prioritise your supply chain for them as they are most likely to be affected by newer Brexit trading rules.

Look at what issues your business could face when sourcing these products and see if you can put plans in place to help avoid problems or smooth the process of getting them through customs.

If you have a good working relationship with your supplier, it could be worth negotiating a deal with them that allows you to increase your order quantities while spreading the cost if you are working on a tight budget.

Ordering and storing more stock than usual will ensure a continued supply to your retail shop. This can be helpful when you factor in the extra delivery time delays caused by a hold-up at custom borders for additional paperwork checks due to Brexit.

Learn Lessons From Any Disruptions You’ve Already Had

If you have been trading for a while, you may already have experienced delays and disruptions to your supply chain because of Brexit.

It can be challenging to predict the long-term fallout of Brexit and its impact on European supply chains for UK retailers, but it can help to look at what issues you have already encountered to get an idea of what to avoid in future.

As mentioned above, it can be worth ordering extra stock to cover delays in your regular supply chain due to slower customs procedures and additional paperwork checks. It’s also worth doing some research to see if you can source the same or similar products from within the UK to speed up your supply chain deliveries.

Be Pessimistic

There will always be a risk attached to investing in the wrong stock for your retail business, so it makes sense to carry out regular forecasts and look at what is trending in the marketplace to help you plan for your future inventory.

If anything, it can help to stick with evergreen products that you know will always be in demand to stock your retail business. It could be a sensible approach until we have a better take on what your customers want in a post-Brexit world.

If You’re Going to Stockpile, Be Smart

While stockpiling seems like the safest thing to do in an uncertain world where you cannot guarantee your supply chain reliability, it can work against you by tying up much of your working capital.

Undoubtedly, the increased customs paperwork and checks mean slower import times. Stockpiling goods to a reasonable level can help to reduce the impact on margins of longer lead times but doesn’t leave you vastly overstocked, which is especially important if your retail business deals in items with a limited shelf-life.

It helps to keep on top of analysing the inventory you carry to make sure it will meet your forecasted demands. Rather than maintain a set order for products each month/week, keep an eye on forecasted demand for your products and whether the market will bottom out or disappear after a while.

Prioritise Stock Reduction After Stockpiling

Healthy rotation and turnover of stock is the goal of every retail business. While stockpiling is an effective tool to help mitigate issues in your supply chain, you will be left with an abnormal level of capital tied up in excess stock.

As your supply chain environment settles into a new normal, you may need to reduce stocks to a more sustainable level. Monitoring stock levels, best before dates, expiry dates etc., can be very labour intensive without some automation.

Where Possible, Invest In Agile Technology

You can invest in digital retail supply chain software that manages stock and automatically analyses sales data to calculate your forecasts. Using this technology can save you from manually calculating everything yourself.

It can be almost impossible to manually keep on top of your inventory and restocking levels when your retail business carries potentially hundreds of products.

Investing in a good quality stock management system will do all the hard work for you, such as monitoring stock levels and reordering, tracking forecasts, retail supply chain insights, creating alerts and more to help you optimise your inventory.

Can I Insure Against Supply Chain Disruption?

It makes sense for UK retail businesses to take out business insurance to cover against instances of supply chain risk. There are always going to be some supply chain risks in any retail business, but the chances seemed heightened in these times of Post-Brexit and post-pandemic.

UK retail businesses can have a long list of suppliers, but many think that any supply chain concerns they experience will automatically be covered in their business interruption policy. Without the proper insurance in place, it only takes one supply chain to collapse for it to cause a severe financial loss to your business.

Conclusion

Effective supply chain management is a priority for any retail business selling physical products. With so many disruptors present that can trigger supply chain issues, such as changing import tariffs and VAT levels, and border delays, it helps to protect yourself against problems caused by Brexit and new EU trading regulations.

In the age of Brexit, you can ensure your retail business possesses the appropriate cover to protect against supply chain risks and challenges by working with our dedicated team at Brisco Business Insurance.

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