While there are many benefits to a global supply chain, there are also potentials for complications. Without following the right practices, you can accrue inflated costs and delayed shipping, which can hurt profits. Here are five tips to simplify matters and optimize the entire process.


1. Hire an expert.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is bring someone on board who lives in the country you receive shipments from and has a solid knowledge of that local market. As an outsider in a different country, it’s hard to understand all the subtle details and cultural nuances that affect a particular region.


Finding qualified consultants who know the ins and outs can be an big advantage. They can act as a company representative and negotiate with suppliers to get the best possible deals. Their knowledge of local rules and regulations can be a valuable asset, which can lead to lower taxes and improved infrastructure.


Related: 5 Free Inventory Software Solutions for Product Management


2. Work on rapport.

Regardless of the industry and means of distribution, relationships are almost always the backbone of business. Consequently, it’s important to build favorable rapport with your global suppliers. This can be done by practicing proper etiquette, being flexible in terms of delivery and inventory count, and treating suppliers more as business partners than simply as a means to an end.


Piggybacking onto the first tip, having a representative who is knowledgeable of local customs and culture can be a catalyst for building rapport. By doing so, you can potentially build lasting, beneficial relationships for both parties for years to come.


3. Find a backup.

As with many areas in life, putting all of your eggs in one basket is often a bad idea. What happens if your sole supplier flakes out or experiences a major setback in which they can’t fulfill a crucial order? No matter what the scenario, an international supplier who drops the ball can be a serious detriment to your operations. That’s why it’s smart to find a backup supplier who can handle orders with minimal notice. This should keep everything running smoothly and keep customers happy even in a worst case scenario.


4. Take advantage of technology.

Businesses today have a marked advantage over those in the past simply because of their access to a variety of software platforms. Supply chain management software utilizes a variety of tools and metrics to track order processing, inventory, and supplier management, to maximize efficiency. While this type of software is helpful in domestic shipping, it’s even better for international shipping. Vendors like SAP and JDA can help you better monitor your supply chain while taking the guesswork out of the process.


5. Optimize sales forecasting.

Because the shipping time is likely to be longer in a global supply chain than it would be domestically, it requires accurate sales forecasting. Pay careful attention to sales trends throughout the course of a year and know how much of each product you are planning to sell. Taking factors like holidays and seasonal buying patterns into account is important because you might need a massive shipment before Christmas and a tiny order during the summer. Technology, such as sales monitoring tools, can be helpful when forecasting and minimize the potential for errors.


Although managing a global supply chain requires some trial and error, the eventual benefits can be substantial. Through intelligent planning and some key connections, you can maintain the right inventory quantities to consistently meet consumer demand.