Jerry mentioned the Director article which is not available online so here it is (my piece) in a nutshell:
HOW DO I... ensure my supply chain is flexible enough to cope with changes in demand?
Wine merchant Edward Parker says margins in his sector are not generous and so 'cash flow management is absolutely key'. So too is seamless operations strategy. Parker sources wine for private individuals from producers globally and delivers across the UK...
Robert Craven, founder, The Directors' Centre
You are right to be sensitive to the situation. Your long-term financial performance will be related to your ability to get the right product to the right person at the right time.
To manage the unforeseeable is a contradiction. You must keep involved and engaged in every stage of the supply chain. To manage customer expectations, you need to know what is happening.
One option would be to offer gold, silver and bronze guaranteed delivery dates to accommodate different customer expectations with prices to match.
Clients will tolerate late delivery if they are kept in the loop or offered alternatives. Ironically, the ambiguous delivery time could be used to his advantage and built into the story. You say “most of your suppliers are in France”. You could state: “Our wines are sourced from small family businesses so our delivery schedules may appear a little erratic”. This adds to the mystique, builds in some slippage and early delivery will be an extra surprise.
The full article can be read at this scanned pdf.