Mercado | Articles | How import planning and forecasting can radically re-shape your business success and resilience

How import planning and forecasting can radically re-shape your business success and resilience

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How import planning and forecasting can radically re-shape your business success and resilience

December 10th, 2021   ·   By Callum Berry

If, as importers, we all had the gift of foresight, unforeseen supply chain risks wouldn’t be an issue. We wouldn't worry about projecting future trends or how to manage consumer demand fluctuations, rising supply-side costs, and the respective impact on the bottom line.

Unfortunately, the reality is that today’s international supply chain is highly fragile and easily succumbs to market forces and both macro and micro shifts, making forecasting a tricky, yet fundamental, part of business success. Most recently, U.S. importers have been exposed to trade wars, tariffs, sourcing shifts, bottlenecks, and not least of all, the pandemic that have all negatively affected every part of the global supply chain.

This is where the power of first mile forecasting (planning the initial 80% of the supply chain) can help enterprises of all sizes go from uncertainty and risk to clarity and control.

Here are a few ways first mile planning and forecasting can help your business in the long run:

Meet wider business objectives

As an established business, you’ve almost certainly already experienced first-hand how supply chain forecasting and planning can help you make more informed decisions on your sales targets. However, the benefits are felt much wider across the business.

In the supply chain world, timing is everything, with a minor delay potentially having catastrophic repercussions further downstream, damaging both your brand image as well as impacting your bottom line.

Make future-proof investments

Without a clear understanding of what's happening in your supply chain operations, it's virtually impossible to make strategic investments to improve upon how you bring your products to market and deliver exceptional customer service.

The global supply chain operates on a circular basis, with past years' results impacting the plans and decisions for future products, shipments, and in-store or online stock. From raw product availability, to supplier performance, to booking and shipment level data, planning departments require real-time data at their fingertips to glean insights and make decisions that will impact their business for the coming year and beyond.

Enterprises that invest in tools that can aggregate data and provide ways to “cut and slice” it into actionable insights will be the success stories rising out of the turmoil we’re currently witnessing.

Predict and react effectively to market fluctuations

Volatility and sudden changes in market conditions can affect businesses operating across virtually any industry or vertical.

Forecasting is, therefore, more than just a one-off task ahead of the coming season; it's a continuous process, utilizing the latest intelligence to pivot and alter plans to ensure maximum success. By anticipating changes and reacting to them promptly with clear business logic, enterprises can better action mitigation strategies to minimize loss and reduce potential damage to their brand.

For most businesses, cost control is critical to weather today’s supply chain storm and those yet to come. Resilience and efficiency delivered through better planning, forecasting, and preparation must be instilled into the “new normal” for those who want to succeed. Intelligent investments made today will help to minimize costly disruptions further down the line.

So, how can Mercado help you?

At Mercado Labs, we’ve created a variety of products created with the goal of enabling our customers to better forecast and plan. We’re here to help you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your supply chain practice.

Mercado Plan

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Designed to help importers build long-term relationships with suppliers, Mercado Plan ensures suppliers meet your specific standards and requirements through comprehensive vetting and onboarding before they start working with you.

It’s an incredibly important step in order to determine whether suppliers are up to scratch with compliance standards across multiple areas, including:

  • Social Compliance - The steps and measures put in place to ensure the safety, equality, and fair treatment of staff, working conditions, and environment that, if not followed, could hurt humans and/or the planet. This includes the consideration of the lives, communities, and local area that exist around a business’ services and supply chain operations.
  • Regulatory compliance - The laws and requirements set out by local, regional, or national governments to oversee how products are made and sold in specific regions, typically focusing on the actions involved in the sourcing and manufacturing of products. If Regulatory Compliance isn’t followed properly, it would put you at a crossroads with government and inspections.
  • Supply Chain compliance - The needs and specifications put in place to ensure the accurate and timely delivery of products through the supply chain that, if not done properly, could impede the flow of goods. This form of compliance typically covers things like packaging, labeling, container loading, etc.

Mercado Buy

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Orders are typically sent from buyer to supplier via email as a PDF or a spreadsheet attachment, however this results in a lack of clarity and visibility around its acceptance and progress. Ultimately creating additional unforeseen issues further downstream that are then impossible to track back.

Mercado Buy turns this issue on its head, creating a digital version of your order that can be managed online in real-time. Changes can be validated, collaboration and messages are stored against the order, and milestones are set to ensure production is monitored every step of the way so there are no surprises months later.

Mercado Move

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Mercado Move helps logistics teams plan and manage their shipments with greater accuracy by utilizing the digital order created during the sourcing and procurement stages of the process.

Bookings are automatically generated from the purchase order and sent directly to the 3PL or Freight Forwarder, helping to avoid manual errors and maintaining the DNA of the order, with clear visibility of orders down to the product and SKU level for every shipment.

Mercado Analytics

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Having reliable data on your first mile is great, but it's worthless if you can't do anything with it. Mercado Analytics gives you a clear overview of your import data to-date, so you can identify where you are potentially losing money, wasting time or have sticking points, and opportunities to pivot and adapt your operations long before you hit an issue. You can segment data by product, order, and supplier, so you have a complete overview of your supply chain. Enabling you to clearly see where you have shortfalls.
Each of Mercado’s products enables you to better understand if your orders are meeting your standards (Mercado Plan), how they are sourced and manufactured (Mercado Buy), and then transported (Mercado Move). Mercado Analytics then layers on top, providing the ability to take data and turn it into actionable insights so you can put all your supply chain intelligence to good use.
Interested in working with us?
Mercado is an import order management system (iOMS) that connects and automates the global supply chain across the first mile (the initial 80% of your operations) by creating a digital order, so you can plan, buy, and move your products online with ease.
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