A global supply chain is much like a supply chain and encompasses all companies, people, and resources involved in turning a raw material into a product that is supplied to the customer. The difference is that a global supply chain usually includes one or more overseas companies or companies from different continents.

Inventory management is one of the wheels that move a global supply chain, especially small business inventory management. Yes, contrary to what some might think, there is a place for small companies in a global supply chain, usually because they have niche products and are specialists in what they do.

In fact, a global supply chain can be the perfect system for your small business to thrive in. But there is another edge to the blade. A global supply chain is an intricate system, and it can swallow your business whole if you can’t manage the extra complexity.

But don’t worry. These tips will help you position your small company in a global supply chain, and give you some insight on how to take the most advantage of it.

1. Choose Your Partners Wisely

Where small business inventory management is involved, so is small business vendor management. In a previous article, we’ve talked about how small business vendor management is such a crucial part of running a small business. But when you’re part of a global supply chain, this is even more important.

When the success of your operations depends on raw materials and products that are being shipped from overseas, there are more things that can go wrong. Delays are more likely to happen and the means of transportation will probably change several times, meaning more steps where the process can fail.

For this reason, is it paramount that you build a trustful relationship with your suppliers, and that you rely on them to not only deliver your orders on time, but also to step up and quickly solve any problems if they don’t.

Furthermore, in this kind of long-distance relationship, you won’t be able to have as many face-to-face meetings with your vendors. So it is important that you make your objectives very clear from the start and make sure that your goals stay aligned at all times.

2. Consider Different Seasonalities

When working with several overseas companies, it is only natural that they belong to countries with different cultures. This means that their holiday periods will probably not coincide with one another, and probably not with yours, either.

If you’re using a forecasting tool for small business, make sure that it is accounting for all these variations. Most modern forecasting tools, like DataQlick, allow you to add these factors to the forecast calculations.

With a forecast that gathers all the relevant data and accounts for the down periods of all the companies that you depend on and all those that depend on you, you’ll be able to determine the best times to place new orders and plan your business accordingly.

Since we’re mentioning different holiday calendars, don’t forget to account for different time zones. If you’re going to be successful in a global supply chain, be aware that your suppliers might not reply to you immediately, so if you need to deal with an urgent matter, you have to plan ahead and probably contact them the day before.

3. Update Your Inventory Management System

There is so much talk about the cloud, and having an up-to-date system, but this is absolutely true, even more so when you’re dealing with several foreign companies. As a matter of fact, having a modern inventory management software can make the difference between staying afloat or sinking in a global supply chain.

Let’s think about it. You already know how hard it is to stay on top of all your stocks, sales and orders, even if you’re dealing with a supplier from your own country. Now, imagine dealing with several suppliers from different countries, or even different continents.

So, if you’re still working with Excel spreadsheets, now is the right time to change. With an inventory management system like DataQlick, all your terminals will be connected to each other and to your suppliers. Stock and order information can be updated from any point of sale, in real time, and you can access it from anywhere, even from your mobile phone if you have the mobile inventory app!

Another advantage of having a system that is updated and real time is that it allows you to respond more quickly to possible problems. And as we’ve already seen, time is of the essence when you’re striving for greatness in a global supply chain.