Covid-19 caused severe shortages threatening almost every industry, from healthcare and finance to government and education. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, the eCommerce supply chain depends entirely on its ability to produce and distribute its products/services via online channels. When supply and demand are disrupted, eCommerce must consider numerous factors, including changing cost structures and having a single supplier. These challenges to business operations invite companies to build contingent business plans and incorporate revolutionary digital technologies.
As businesses adapt, Gartner predicts that 50% of 2023 global eCommerce enterprises will invest in real-time supply chain solutions, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics capabilities. This means that companies will begin to apply technology-driven models across supply chain operations. This will better prepare them for the risks of supply chain management, product development, and sales lifecycles. The goal is to increase the confidence in knowing that business operations are on the right growth path.
Leveraging Supply Chain Analytics
Supply chain management is a meticulous and expansive system of interconnected processes that demand significant oversight and analysis. Many businesses require global supply chains, so successfully analyzing data to make decisions and predictions is essential to supply chain logistics.
ECommerce supply chain operations must utilize an execution platform that provides a high level of supply chain visibility. The software should simplify and streamline the company’s enterprise resource planning to meet customer needs with procurement, inventory management, order management, warehouse management, fulfillment, and transportation management. Companies can use the software to identify cost reduction strategies, mitigate risks, improve forecasting, streamline the supply chain, and prepare for future growth.
The complexity of supply chain management demands that companies identify digital technologies that can increase efficiency and allow businesses to make faster, better-informed decisions. Supply chain analytics give data scientists and data engineers the tools they need to monitor every aspect of the business.
Some Essential Features to Consider
The essential features of enterprise resource planning (ERP) include ease of data visualization. This illustrates different data elements, stream processing to combine data from different sources, and system integration for extraction and organization. Depending on the goals of the organization, supply chain management can provide descriptive analytics to interpret data, diagnostic analytics to identify causes of issues, predictive analytics. This helps to prepare for the future and provides prescriptive analytics to optimize decision-making.
For example, an eCommerce company may collect raw data from customer contracts, social media interactions, or news reports to identify improvements that would result in leaner supply chains. Being able to perform high-level analytics will enable greater profitability, better inventory management, and improved customer experiences.
Other digital technologies that prove beneficial for eCommerce supply chains include blockchain to manage transactions, graphing to simplify complex information into graphs, and hyper-automation to increase automated processes throughout the supply chain sequence.
A Greater Demand for Digital Supply Chain Solutions
Despite the benefits of supply chain analytics, the disruptions caused by the pandemic revealed significant obstacles and deficiencies in eCommerce supply chain management. When businesses were forced to close their doors due to government mandates, online sales increased significantly. Grocery stores and shoe manufacturers alike experienced this unpredictable but necessary shift to eCommerce. Unfortunately, broken supply chains caused shipment delays and less available products. To address these challenges, businesses needed to improve the effectiveness of their supply chain collaboration, both internally and externally. Moving forward, companies will need to train data analysts to work with the intense amounts of data required to better manage supply chain logistics. Companies that went into the pandemic with developed digital technologies were less likely to experience disruptions and were better equipped to manage them.
Of course, we’re not insinuating you need to bolster your digital supply chain because another pandemic is looming. We’re simply connecting the dots between global recent memory and the jarring unpredictability of world affairs. To those who lacked preparation for the worst-case scenario but still managed to survive the early 2020s: you are the exception. That kind of luck rarely strikes twice. Let Zobrist guide you so your business isn’t at the mercy of things you can’t control.
More Businesses to Invest in the “Circular Economy”
The disruptions caused by Covid-19 invigorated eCommerce businesses to reconsider and redesign the supply chain models that had failed them. This new model needed to address the limitations of eCommerce supply chain management while improving customer experience and retention.
The model in question? The “circular economy.” In this model, businesses aim to eliminate waste, design products for long-term use, and contribute to nature sustainability initiatives. In eCommerce, a circular economy can look like: subscription services that deliver and pick up unwanted goods, secondhand clothing stores, refurbishing services, or outsourcing to eco-friendly manufacturers entirely.
Furthermore, the majority of consumers reported they were willing to pay more for sustainable, environmentally conscious brands. Look at that! You get to reduce your footprint and build positive public perception while still turning a profit. As sustainability becomes more important to consumers, eCommerce supply chain management will require greater investments in the circular economy.
The Rise of Elastic Supply Chains
Beyond sustainability, eCommerce operations were forced to seriously consider the flexibility of their supply chain logistics. Elastic logistics is the ability to quickly course-correct to meet consumer demands on the fly. The Covid-19 pandemic taught companies they needed automated, elastic supply chains that could survive external blows – like a suspension bridge in an earthquake. Having accurate data allows organizations to identify needs, predict patterns, and simulate desired outcomes. Elastic logistics enables eCommerce to scale quickly and efficiently to meet higher demand.
Be On the Top of Supply Chain Technologies With AI Solutions
As companies strive to adapt, eCommerce supply chain management requires companies to properly leverage supply chain analytics, to reduce risks and improve customer experience. Using digital technologies, eCommerce operations are investing more in the circular economy and elastic supply chains. Without the right software, supply chain management can be daunting.
Zobrist provides smart, industry-leading eCommerce solutions, including digital supply chain management. Contact us today to learn how Zobrist can help your business not only withstand the test of time, but come out stronger and more profitable.