Is Your Supply Chain Prepared to Accommodate a Growth in Digital Commerce?

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In today’s highly digital era, just selling products online is not enough to drive sales or profitability. Given the volatility of the business environment, many organizations are now embracing a customer-centric mindset and investing in the right people, technology, and processes to take retail to a whole new level. Streamlining content management strategies, enhancing data analytics, improving user design, driving better customer engagement, and optimizing customer experience at each touchpoint along the purchasing journey are all part of the game.

Although most organizations have ticked all the boxes for the success of customer-facing aspects of digital commerce, not many realize that scaling digital commerce requires their supply chain to keep up. Is your supply chain prepared to accommodate your growth in digital commerce? Read on to find out!

Common Supply Chain Challenges

The digital commerce market has been on an upward climb for many years now, but the pandemic has caused a sudden and massive surge like never before. Amid stagnant economies and nationwide lockdowns, the surge in digital commerce and digital transformation has been intense. According to a recent report, the pandemic added $219 billion to US e-commerce sales in 2020-2021, accelerating e-commerce growth years into the future.

As an organization with sufficient online presence, you must be experiencing decent sales since the last couple of years. But:

  • Are you able to get products delivered to customers at the quality and speed they expect?
  • Do you have real-time insight into your inventory or your warehouses’ capacity?
  • Are you able to drive effective communication with distributors, retailers, and other partners?
  • Do you have end-to-end visibility into where your products are in the supply chain, what issues your workforce is facing, or what bottlenecks you need to overcome?
  • Are you able to scale your business as the demand for your products increases without impacting delivery times, costs, or customer satisfaction levels?
  • Do you have systems in place to proactively forecast customer needs and procure optimum inventory to meet those needs?
  • Does your transportation and logistics network keep up with same-day delivery expectations and easy returns policies?
  • Do you have flexible warehouse spaces to store your inventory during holiday and slump seasons?

Tips to Optimize Your Supply Chain Network

For businesses in the post-pandemic era, e-commerce represents a powerful channel for transformational sales and growth. But capitalizing on this opportunity requires organizations to rethink their overall sales and distribution strategies, especially regarding their supply chain. To be able to keep up with the pace of digital commerce, they need to be aware of the roadblocks in their supply chain networks and build strategies to overcome those challenges and ensure they drive substantial value. Here are some tips that can help you strengthen your supply chain processes:

1. Design an Intelligent Supply Chain

Designing an intelligent supply chain is one of the primary ways to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your backend processes. Leveraging technologies like AI, machine learning, analytics, and automation can enable you to get the visibility and control you need over your supply chain while also constantly making improvements and eliminating waste.

2. Embrace the Cloud

Using cloud tools and systems to power your supply chain is another great way to drive unmatched scalability and flexibility. Since cloud-based systems can grow as the demand for your products grows, you can continue to drive customer satisfaction and outdo competition – regardless of a surge or dip in sales.

3. Enable Automation

Scaling your supply chain network to meet the evolving demands of your customers also requires the adoption of automation. Since manual processes are extremely time-consuming while being prone to error, automation can act as a foundational technology for your warehouse systems and supply chain processes, allowing you to not only speed up deliveries but also reduce the margin of error.

4. Ensure Seamless Integration Between Departments and Systems

If you want to keep up with the pace of digital commerce growth, you need to be able to improve the speed, quality, and accuracy of your deliveries. Integrated planning across your functional areas can help in aligning supply with demand, optimizing inventory investment, and help you achieve an improved return for every dollar spent.

5. Invest in a Unified Management Software

Instead of relying on distinct tools and systems to manage your supply chain network, it makes more business sense to invest in a unified management software that provides the visibility you need into supply chain operations: right from when your products will be delivered to how you can more effectively manage returns and replacements and what problems your fleet is facing. A centralized platform not only brings all your people and processes together, it also allows you to combine data from different sources and make decisions that are quick and accurate.

6. Capture Customer Sentiment

Being aware of customer sentiments also plays a huge role in how competent your supply chain is. Capturing data from a variety of sources can help you effectively forecast demand, while also using this information to inform your supply chain. You can then curate strategies or tweak processes to meet those demands and seamlessly manage your inventory in today’s multifaceted and global retail environment.

If you want to deliver world-class digital commerce experiences – regardless of where your customers are or what time of the day it is – it’s not just a stunning user interface that you need to focus on. For a flawless retail experience, you need to be able to drive agility, so you can keep up with rapidly changing markets, customer preferences, and technology advancements. Since acting fast is the only way to avoid losing the game to competition, the right approach to supply chain management can help in avoiding stockouts, delivering goods quickly and cost-effectively, encouraging positive customer reviews, and supporting profitability while setting the foundation for long-term competitive advantages.

Designing an intelligent supply chain, embracing the cloud, enabling automation, ensuring seamless integration between departments and systems, investing in a unified supply chain management platform, and constantly capturing customer sentiment are different ways by which you can support the growth of digital commerce, keep up with the latest trends, and enable customer loyalty and retention.

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