Flexibility in the Supply Chain is a Competitive Advantage

Flexibility in the Supply Chain is a Competitive Advantage

Flexibility in the Supply Chain is a Competitive Advantage
Flexibility in the Supply Chain is a Competitive Advantage

Flexibility has always been an important factor in the supply chain. But one could argue that it’s never been more important than in uncertain times like the present.

For the majority of 2020 (and likely into 2021), brand loyalty has seemed to matter less as buyers are now favoring convenience and availability. This is most evident in general consumer supply chains, where, for example, a brand of toilet paper or paper towels hasn’t matter as long as those items are available. But aerospace and defense haven’t been granted immunity, either.

This demonstrates just how quickly shifts in the market can happen, and responding to them accordingly takes creativity. As more A&D manufacturers are scaling back production in response to the drop in market demand, companies need suppliers that will align with their at-the-moment priorities — priorities that may continue to evolve as the industry starts to regain its footing.

Now is the time to build flexibility into your supply chain strategy and optimize the trifecta of timing, customer experience, and cost-effectiveness.

What is the Flexible Supply Chain Trifecta?

By definition, a flexible supply chain is one that can easily adjust to changes in market conditions while minimizing additional costs, overhead, and lead time. It’s the difference between making a wide U-turn vs. pivoting on a dime – the most flexible supply chains can pivot quickly while their competitors are getting clearance for a wide turn.

To become more flexible, companies should aim to achieve a trifecta of timing, customer experience, and cost-effectiveness.

Timing is the meeting point of speed and availability. It’s not just a matter of supplying a product when your customer needs it, but also being the first to deliver it before your competitors. To do this well requires companies to anticipate customer needs and pay attention to the industry to gauge demands.

Customer experience is supported by timing, along with general ease of doing business, being responsive to requests, maintaining high product quality, and setting predictable expectations for your customers.

Last but not least, cost-effectiveness isn’t just about being the cheapest supplier in the market. It’s about being the best at managing costs, curtailing overhead, and working efficiently so that you can continue to operate in good health, even when demand bottoms out.

Combined, these elements build flexibility into your operating standards. You can better adjust to changes because you have fewer inefficiencies to contend with.

Using Your A&D Supply Chain as a Competitive Advantage

Striving for a more flexible supply chain is the equivalent of taking the elevator when your competitors are climbing stairs. It’s a more responsive approach when market conditions change, plus it helps you avoid sinking your profits into putting Bandaids on problems instead of investing in true innovation that will carry you forward.

To learn how etaGLOBAL is helping create more flexible supply chains for the aerospace and defense industry, reach out to our team.