Running a successful ecommerce company can be more complex than it seems. While ecommerce can be a profitable venture, you need more than just a great site and an attractive product portfolio. You also need to ensure you’re delivering excellent experiences to customers.
This means ensuring you have the right resources and strategies in place to get orders to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Optimizing your supply chain is the key to improving the shopping experience for your online customers, and even increasing your revenue.
Today, 88% of customers say they’d pay more for faster shipping. Additionally, virtually every customer expects ecommerce companies to be clear, transparent, and reliable with their fulfillment strategies. The question is, how do you optimize your supply chain so you’re living up to consumer expectations?
Here are four of the best ways to make sure you’re outperforming the competition.
1. Consider Using Multiple Fulfillment Centers
Your fulfillment center strategy as an ecommerce business owner plays a significant role in your ability to enhance your supply chain and serve customers quickly. Working with multiple fulfillment centers means you can position your products as close to your target customers as possible.
The closer the fulfillment center is to your customer, the faster the delivery process will be. What’s more, working with multiple fulfillment centers can also help reduce your risk of inventory issues, lower your overall shipping costs, and improve your brand reputation.
There are various logistics companies and fulfillment providers in the market today that can offer access to multiple fulfillment centers. For instance, ShipBob, a global fulfillment solution, has fulfillment centers located across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
The company uses proprietary technology to help merchants choose where they want to store inventory, to reduce their fulfillment costs and travel times. Plus, you get access to tracking and reporting tools to monitor inventory and order data from a single dashboard.
2. Align your Supply Chain to Cash Flow Needs
One of the main reasons ecommerce companies struggle with optimizing their supply chains is that they don’t always have access to professionals to help them forecast their needs and make intelligent decisions. Lack of foresight and planning can often lead to problematic inventory management. Order too little inventory, and you risk stockouts, order too much, and you waste crucial working capital.
There are tech-driven solutions that can help align cash flow with supply chain needs. For example, 8fig, a tech-infused funding and financial planning platform for ecommerce, provides online sellers with an AI CFO that they can use to make better decisions for both cash flow and supply chain management. Its tools enable business owners to predict spending requirements, improve the flow of their inventory, and adapt your supply chain to changes in your business environment. 8fig even offers funding to help you stay on top of your inventory when purchasing activity spikes.
Taking an analytical approach to aligning both your cash flow and your supply chain strategy can improve your chances of serving your customers more effectively and preserving profitability.
3. Implement Real-Time Inventory Tracking
Having a clear view of your inventory situation is essential to creating an optimized supply chain. As orders are placed on your ecommerce store and shipped out, it can be easy to lose track of your resources without the right real-time monitoring tools.
Inventory management solutions, or ERP systems, can help you to keep a close eye on incoming and outgoing products and supplies. These tools can automate the process of reordering, monitoring, and updating inventory. Many solutions also integrate with accounting software and other tools, so you can streamline all of your inventory-related processes.
The right tools will help you to increase the value of your company, preventing stockouts, optimizing freight shipping, and speeding up customer deliveries. There are even tools available with intelligent analytics to help you make better decisions about supply chain optimization.
Some solutions, like Zoho Inventory, are free to use for smaller business owners, and can integrate with your ecommerce store. You can even use this tool to track your inventory across multiple channels and devices at the same time.
4. Improve Your Warehouse Management Strategy
Finally, a great way to enhance your ecommerce supply chain strategy is to think more carefully about how you deal with your warehouse environments.
From monitoring the movement of inventory to managing warehouse staff processes, warehouse management tools can offer a lot of useful features. They allow you to keep a close eye on how you can improve inventory storage, streamline fulfillment, and reduce carrying costs.
Intuitive, cloud-based warehouse management systems can give you complete visibility into real-time data, wherever you are. You can use these tools to take some of the guesswork out of the fulfillment process, reduce human error, and save time, without constant warehouse audits.
Tools like NetSuite WMS (Warehouse Management Software) come with a variety of useful features, including task management tools, mobile RF barcode scanning, cycle count plans, return authorizations, and real-time data monitoring.
Integrating these cloud-based tools with your existing ecommerce software will give you an easy way to ensure all of your fulfillment centers are operating effectively.
Upgrade Your Ecommerce Supply Chain
Building a strategic and efficient ecommerce supply chain can be a complicated task. There are many moving parts involved in running an ecommerce store, regardless of which business model you choose. You need to think about everything, from how you’ll store your products in different warehouses, to how you can manage inventory in real time.
However, by investing in the strategies and tools above, you can significantly improve the success of your ecommerce brand. With the right strategies and software, you’ll be able to maintain complete visibility into your supply chain, reduce errors, and accelerate the fulfillment process for your customers. This all leads to happier customers and a better brand reputation.
Invest in your supply chain, and your ecommerce business (and profits) are sure to grow.