When it comes to the supply chain in eCommerce, things are continually evolving to meet the market's needs. The eCommerce industry is growing to accommodate consumer demands and expedite their processes for two or even same-day delivery. While some smaller retailers have experienced severe disadvantages because of this, there are ways to bounce back!
Suppose they're interested in keeping up with trends and adjusting their operations. In that case, this collection of the top four supply chain challenges can help them identify potential pitfalls and the best ways to avoid them!
What are Supply Chain Challenges?
Supply chain management has been affected by eCommerce in a significant way. The industry is constantly changing, and customers have more power than ever in controlling the buying process.
Smaller businesses that sell similar products are more susceptible to customers who decide to jump ship to find the best price and shipping timeline. If they wish to stay relevant, their supply chain should meet their customer's needs and have the capability to quickly pivot when necessary.
The supply chain in eCommerce comes with unique challenges like inventory management, shipping costs, shipping speed, out-of-stock notifications, and more. Effective inventory management means carefully balancing all of these common challenges and creating a comprehensive system to manage their warehouse and expedite as many areas as possible.
To help facilitate this process, they can enlist an enterprise eCommerce solution designed to create a personalized strategy to smooth out, highlight, and speed up all their eCommerce operations.
How has eCommerce Changed the Supply Chain
Customer service is more important than ever, and their customers will expect their purchases to arrive quickly and accurately for little to no cost to them. With the major retailers setting a high-bar on supply and demand, small businesses have to rethink their operations to meet this expectation continually.
In the old days, a company could manage its supply chain on spreadsheets and other manual data trackers, but now in the digital era, things have to move fast to keep up! As technology changes, eCommerce businesses have to change too to keep up with the times.
4 Types of Supply Chain Challenges
In this techno-savvy era, customers are more aware than ever of what type of shopping experience they should receive and the types of service that doesn't hit the mark. Social media and other instant communication keep people connected, so major issues like delayed shipments, out-of-stock management, additional expenses, and more will all keep businesses in check.
Customers expect more from eCommerce retailers, so take the time to understand these challenges and why they could mean trouble for their business.
Type One: Infrastructure Inadequacies
Warehouse infrastructure is critical to the success of their operations. When it comes to intelligent warehouse infrastructure, three pillars keep things running smoothly:
Streamlining their warehouse space to increase order fulfillment and ensure delivery on time is critical to a successful eCommerce business.
Type Two: Inaccurate Inventory Levels
Whether their business is based solely online or having a site and physical locations, more SKUs (stock-keeping units) means there needs to be accurate inventory tracking. Inventory management is especially crucial for businesses that offer high-end, expensive products that can hit the budget hard if stock isn't accurately managed.
Replenishment is also an area where a business could struggle since it's challenging to forecast how much stock is needed. There are plenty of different ways to manage inventory, so it's crucial to find a tool that best suits their needs.
Type Three: Transport & Shipping Logistics
Suppose their business is a bit inexperienced with eCommerce and the necessary technology to make things run smoothly. In that case, it can be easy to lose sight of what it takes to generate smooth, accurate logistics. A retailer who has mastered logistics will better command the market and offer more reliable product delivery.
Type Four: Warehouse Picking & Packing
While labor is often the most expensive piece of the warehouse puzzle, they must train their teams to pick the right items, pack them correctly for protection, and promptly get them ready for shipment to the eager customer. At this level, missteps can lead to lost inventory, broken products, and other costly mistakes.
eCommerce Supply Chain Solutions
Knowing the challenges on the horizon is only part of the equation. It's also important to understand how they can solve these supply change challenges to benefit their eCommerce supply chain, their business as a whole, and their customers!
Maximize Their Space
Keeping their inventory organized and utilizing all available space is one of the easiest ways to expedite the supply chain process. Organize all inventory, clearly mark and label containers and isles, and make the most of all warehouse space.
Always Look for Faster & Cheaper Shipping
Once they've committed to a shipping method and signed a contract, it can be easy to sit back and trust that this step is complete. However, like all aspects of the eCommerce world, shipping companies are constantly changing and competing to gain the most customers, so they should always keep an eye out for a better alternative to negotiate a price that will benefit their business and customers.
Create a Demand Forecast
Are there certain products that sell seasonally or regularly that should always be on-order? Today's customers rarely wait for back-ordered inventory when other retailers have it in stock, so it's helpful to anticipate these expectations when placing orders. There is software that can help facilitate this forecast and collect trending data that is business-specific.
Utilize Real-Time Inventory Tracking
Each order that is placed and delivered can make or break a business's reputation, and they can't afford to risk letting valuable customers down! Inventory tracking keeps customers informed of their order status, alerts anytime there is a delay and keeps track of how much inventory the warehouse and stores have in stock.
Where to Start
When it comes to overcoming eCommerce supply chain challenges, it helps to have a plan to overcome potential pitfalls. They should take some time to monitor current operations closely, review the challenges listed above and the solutions offered to see what can help.
In today's industry, a business can't afford to sit back and continue doing things like they always have, so it's crucial to take the necessary steps to update, expedite, and benefit their business and valued customers!
For more information about Synatic, request a demo.
Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO and co-founder of 3dcart, an ecommerce software to build SEO-friendly online stores. He's dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.