35 Supply Chain Management Phrases

35 Supply Chain Management Phrases

The supply chain is the journey a product takes from creation to customer. Supply chain management is all about making this journey smooth, cost-effective, and fast.

It’s crucial because, as Tim Cook said, a great product means nothing if it can’t reach the customer, so you must train your chain of command at its best.

This guide will briefly cover what makes a supply chain work well, from managing inventory to getting products to buyers efficiently.

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Why Supply Chain Management is Crucial

Imagine this: You order a sandwich, and it arrives at your door without the bread, but hey, you paid for the whole deal, right?

That’s why SCM is a big deal, and getting help from a virtual assistant to boost productivity is one technique to help you.

It’s the invisible hand that makes sure the right pieces are in the right place at the right time, and with global supply chains, the stakes have never been higher.


Supply Chain Management Phrases

Understand these phrases or supply chain terms, and you’ll have a holistic view of SCM in action.


1. Demand Forecasting

The crystal ball of the supply chain world. Demand forecasting predicts future customer demand with uncanny accuracy, keeping you from running out of stock and slashing your trusty safety stock.

2. Omnichannel Distribution

Gone are the days of just brick-and-mortar. Omnichannel distribution ensures your customers receive the same experience whether they stroll into your store or click their way to the checkout online.

3. Cycle Counting

Regular inventory checks that don’t disrupt daily operations? Cycle counting is the answer, bringing precision to your stock without the headache of a full inventory.

4. Lead Time

From ‘I want that’ to ‘here it is.’ Lead time is the total time your supply chain needs to deliver the goods, from processing the order to it landing at the customer’s door.

5. Materials Handling

This is the backstage of the show, where goods are handled, stored, and shipped. It’s the unsung hero of how products move from A to B without a hitch.

6. Reverse Logistics

Like a boomerang, but for products. Reverse logistics handles returning goods from the customer, ensuring they’re unharmed and resold or recycled with minimal fuss.

7. SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)

Every product has its own fingerprint. This unique ID organizes and tracks every single item in your inventory, making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

8. Yard Management

A parking lot for trailers, but with ninja-like organization. Yard management keeps a close eye on trailers, ensuring they’re in the right dock at the right time.

9. Global Sourcing

The world is your oyster. Global sourcing gives you access to the best supplies and production under any flag, maximizing your output and diversity.

10. Just-In-Time (JIT)

It’s like ordering your wardrobe just before you have to wear it, only for parts and inventory. JIT reduces waste and storage costs by delivering materials exactly when needed.

11. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)

Chitchat among computer systems. EDI replaces old-school paper and faxes with digital documents, making communications between businesses quick and error-free.

12. Demand Sensing

The sixth sense of SCM. Demand sensing uses AI and data analytics to sense shifts in consumer demand with an almost supernatural accuracy, helping you respond before the trend even hits the radar.

13. RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification)

The digital shepherd. RFID tags use electromagnetic fields to track items through various stages of the supply chain, and unlike sheep, they rarely get lost.

14. Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI)

Your suppliers keeping their finger on the pulse of your inventory. VMI shifts the burden of inventory management to your suppliers, freeing you up to focus on selling more sandwiches.

15. Carrying Cost

It’s expensive to hold onto things. The carrying cost is the cost of storing inventory, including rent, labor, and the opportunity cost of tying up capital.

16. Supply Chain Network Design

It’s like engineering mixed with strategic planning. Network design optimizes the structure of your supply chain to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

17. Cross-Docking

The ‘no resting’ rule at ports. Cross-docking minimizes storage time, as goods from an inbound shipment are directly loaded onto an outbound truck for distribution.

18. Distribution Center

The heart of your logistical world. Distribution centers process goods before they reach the end customer, handling everything from repackaging to consolidation.

19. Safety Stock

The band-aid of inventory, but one you’re grateful for. Safety stock is the buffer of extra inventory you keep in case demand unexpectedly spikes or there are supply chain disruptions.

20. Outbound Logistics

The last mile is often the toughest. Outbound logistics handle the final steps, delivering products from your distribution center to the customer, providing a seamless experience until the very end.

21. Inventory Optimization

Balancing the books of inventory. This phrase means having the right stock, at the right time, in the right place, all to maximize profit and efficiency.

22. TMS (Transportation Management System)

The conductor of the transportation orchestra. TMS optimizes the moving parts of transportation, from planning to execution, ensuring everything flows as smoothly as possible.

23. VO (Vendor Orders)

The “make me 100 more”- note from your vendors. Vendor orders are the counterparts of customer orders, triggering supply on demand from your supplier network.

24. Performance Management

The scorecard for SCM. Performance management tracks and evaluates how well your supply chain is doing so you can continuously improve.

25. SKU Rationalization

Not all products are equal. SKU rationalization goes through your inventory to cut out redundant or underperforming products, simplifying and streamlining your operations.

26. ABC Analysis

Sorting the good, better, and best of your inventory. ABC analysis categorizes items based on their value and sales volume, which guides inventory control policies and informs the bigger picture of SCM strategy.

27. Landed Cost

The price of settling down in a new market. Landed cost calculates the total cost of an imported item, including the purchase price, freight, insurance, and customs duties, giving you a real cost picture of international goods.

28. Order Cycle Time

The stopwatch for your orders. Order cycle time measures the total time it takes for a customer to receive their product after placing the order, a critical metric for customer service levels.

29. Value Stream Mapping

Seeing your supply chain with fresh eyes. Value stream mapping visually maps out the steps in your production system, identifying areas for improvement to add ‘value’ and remove waste.

30. Dead Stock

It’s simply not living up to the demand. Dead stock is inventory that hasn’t moved in so long, it probably forgot it’s supposed to be sold. Time for the clearance section!

31. Continuous Replenishment

The supply line equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. Continuous replenishment automatically reorders stock once it hits a certain level, keeping your supply chain agile and efficient.

32. Core Competency

What you’re really good at. Core competency is the area where your business excels, which often influences how you choose to structure your supply chain activities.

33. Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) Inventory

For food, this is an unfortunate fridge policy. In SCM, it refers to the last items booked into inventory being the first ones to be used or sold, which can have different financial and tax implications than FIFO (first-in, first-out).

34. Customs Broker

The maestro of international trade administration. A Customs broker is a professional who clears goods through customs and ensures they comply with government regulations.

35. Data Warehouse

Not the Amazon pre-order storage. A data warehouse is a central location where all of your supply chain data is stored and analyzed, offering insights for decision-making and strategic planning.

What are the keywords in supply chain management?

1. Logistics

Refers to the coordination and movement of resources from one location to another.

2. Inventory Management



The supervision of non-capitalized assets (inventory) and stock items.

3. Procurement

The process of finding, agreeing to terms, and acquiring goods, services, or works from an external source.

4. Supply Chain Optimization

The process of making the supply chain as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

5. Distribution

The process of making a product or service available for the consumer or business user.

6. Forecasting

Predicting future demand for a product or service.

7. Lean Manufacturing

A systematic method for waste minimization within a manufacturing system without sacrificing productivity.

8. Just-In-Time (JIT)

An inventory management system in which materials are only received as they are needed in the production process.

9. Sustainability

Efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the supply chain operations.



10. Risk Management

 The identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks are followed by coordinated efforts to minimize, monitor, and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events.



You’ve just dived into the sea of abbreviations, acronyms, and terms that every SCM professional needs to know. Keep these phrases close at hand, and you’ll find the logistics of supply chain management aren’t just the nuts and bolts; they’re the grease that keeps the wheels spinning, the lifeblood of getting things done.

With these under your belt, you’re ready to optimize and streamline your operations, tackle any challenges, and truly keep your business on top of its game. Therefore, process improvement phrases providing specific terminology that bridges understanding and aligns strategies across both domains can help teams focus on reducing waste and increasing efficiency within the supply chain

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