By Mathieu Descheneaux Today’s up and down economic climate has put businesses at the centre of a brutal tug of war. On the one end of the rope, inflation and a tight labour market are straining operations. On the other are executives who fear alienating customers through additional price hikes. Unfortunately, there’s no clear winner in this game – but there are some moves you can make to remain competitive. One area to scrutinize? Your supply chain. While backlogs may have eased, between still-rising transportation costs, climbing real estate prices, inventory variability, evolving customer demands and labour disputes at ports and other key points, supply chains are exposed to more disruption than ever before. To manage this risk, many companies outsource their supply chain management processes to contract logistics providers, such as Metro Supply Chain. Outsourcing can help in several ways. For one, you get an instant team of experts who can find ways to drive greater efficiencies and improve your processes, freeing up time to concentrate on your core competencies and strategic priorities. It can also be a game-changer in other ways, helping you to: Optimize your inventory: These days, maintaining the right balance of inventory is critical. Too much of one item can tie up capital and add unnecessary costs for warehousing. Too little and you risk losing sales and driving customers to your competitors. With the right expertise and technology, inventory optimization is attainable. Based on your business needs, our experts will analyze your data to recommend ways to reduce inventory holding costs while maximizing availability. Mitigate real estate costs and availability challenges: Optimization also means being smart about real estate and finding a third-party logistics that you can collaborate with. Escalating property costs, particularly in strategic locations, are making it harder for companies to secure affordable warehousing space. With more than 100 sites across North America and the United Kingdom and an in-house real estate team, we have access to a network of strategically positioned facilities, which you can leverage to overcome real estate obstacles, optimize your supply chain footprint and ultimately reduce costs. We’ll work with you to find the right solution. Address labour challenges: As supply chain management continues to develop, finding and retaining experienced people can be a challenge for businesses managing logistics internally. And it’s only getting worse: The World Economic Forum’s latest Future of Jobs Report estimated a higher-than-average churn from 2023 to 2027 in the Supply Chain and Transportation industry. This is another burden outsourcing can address. Metro Supply Chain, for instance, has a vast and experienced specialized workforce that companies can tap into to ease their talent needs. Leveraging our strong continuous improvement culture, we are committed to developing our team’s skills to deliver the best solution and opportunities for our clients. Future-proof your operations: Innovation is a must for companies to stay ahead. Tapping into advanced automation, business intelligence and technology can help you maximize the use of expensive limited space and quicken your response to large shifts in demand. It also reduces your dependence on labour in a tight market and creates safer and more ergonomic workspaces, allowing businesses to open up roles to more diverse talent pools. We continually look to the latest technology and systems that will drive transformative innovation within your operations today and in the future. Meeting corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets and goals: As more companies are finding out, meeting sustainability goals can be a challenge. But with a fleet of electric vehicles, EV charging installation capabilities, and sustainable warehousing initiatives such as LED lighting, electric MHE and robust recycling and waste management efforts, Metro Supply Chain can help reduce your scope III emissions while we continue to reduce our own scope I and II. We also know how important an engaged team is to performance and retention, which is why we continue to invest in our unique Our Way culture program. It guides our actions, challenges us to improve our thinking, and allows us to make a positive impact. What to look for in a partner? Whether you’re migrating your supply chain from an existing provider or looking to find efficiencies by collapsing different operations into one, you need a partner that specializes in network design, build and operations while adding value to your business. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a third-party contract logistics provider: Above all, you need an ally who understands your vision, goals and challenges and is culturally aligned with your business. As your partner, we take the time to know your pain points and then draw on our deep sector experience and data analytics capabilities to simplify complex problems and drive optimal results. By proactively analyzing performance metrics and identifying areas for enhancement, we can help ensure long-term success by implementing data-driven strategies tailored to your specific needs. Also look for a provider that puts safety and compliance first. You want your supply chain manager to operate safe workspaces where staff are encouraged to speak up when they identify potential hazards or have ideas for process improvement. This not only helps you meet regulatory requirements but also cultivates a culture of safety awareness, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring compliance with ethical and environmental standards. It is important to work with a provider who cares as much about your customers as you do. At Metro Supply Chain, we take the time to design, build and run operations that are aligned with your core corporate values. We can seamlessly take over facility management and swiftly accommodate operational changes so that your supply chain can evolve in response to market demands and changing business strategies. Finally, in this fast-changing industry, supply chain managers must also be experts in supply chain technology and ongoing innovation. They should bring their understanding to every customer interaction and know which solutions will bring the most value. We have made innovation a priority, implementing numerous technology and automation solutions to drive productivity gains. To this end, in 2020 we acquired Supply Chain Alliance, a consulting firm our clients can tap into that helps business reimagine their supply chains and solve complex logistics challenges. Choosing Metro Supply Chain Whether it’s managing the variability of inventory, evolving customer demands, real estate costs, labour or transportation, your supply chain serves as the connective tissue that binds these issues together. For half a century, we have been a key partner to many fast-growing and world-leading brands, helping to grow their business with innovative, leading-edge solutions and a significant international network of strategically located, optimized facilities. Our people are the best at what they do and we can help you navigate complex transitions with confidence, enabling success in any economic environment.