Best Practices to Overcome Supply Chain Woes through the Holidays and Beyond

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past year, it should come as no surprise that the supply chain landscape is a continuously evolving challenge for anyone entrenched in the world of e-commerce. Given the evolving and aggregating factors contributing to the situation, businesses now, more than ever, need to be hyper-focused on logistical strategy – especially when it comes to surviving this holiday season. 

Recent data uncovered only 6% of companies are reporting full visibility on their supply chain metrics, while 69% of companies do not have total visibility. Without this operational transparency,  brands are not only at a stalemate, the toll of complications are even more staggering. For most e-commerce companies, the holidays are the most lucrative time in the sales cycle and in 2021, US shoppers will spend more than $843 billion dollars on holiday purchases before the end of the year. Due to the cataclysmic nature of pandemic-driven anomalies, holiday marketing has become more aggressive to make up for lower-than-average sales figures during the past 11 months. 

While there is certainly no lack of demand for consumer goods, the struggle for e-commerce brands lies in all the nuanced variables involved. Managing logistics under normal circumstances can be complex and daunting, and now business leaders need to get creative with how to maneuver around added constraints and continue to provide customer satisfaction without disruption. Maximizing efficiency and preparation are key elements in overcoming any roadblock a company may experience. Here are our 3 tips for maintaining a good rhythm and ensuring a good process is in place to win this holiday season and prepare for the next.

 

Plan ahead with contingencies 

Keep in mind the holidays are not the only time when e-commerce brands will see an increase in traffic, however, it is the most obvious. In a perfect world, planning ahead to ensure enough lead time in getting products to customers with minimal or no disruption is ideal, but the reality of today’s supply chain circumstances are much different than in previous years. For businesses that didn’t have plans A, B, C, and D in place, what contingencies can be implemented to still experience a profitable holiday season? The answer for each type of business will vary. With today’s technology, companies can still amass profits by partnering with a full-cycle and full-service agency to audit current operations and make instant improvements.

You can’t always predict a mutating, global pandemic or the supply chain issues that follow, but if anything, it has taught us the immense value in preparation and the capability to pivot. Your streamlined process must consider variables and scenarios which could throw a wrench in operational and financial success. Always have a backup plan for your selection of vendors and ensure you have a process in place to manage the potential influx of orders.

Some e-commerce solution providers now offer an AI forecasting system that conducts the forecasting based on sales history, competitors, market ecosystem and more. Leverage technology that can help your brand secure an advantageous position. Utilizing technology that best serves the company’s needs can help create a seamless customer experience.

 

Prioritize “bestseller” products

Consistently review your inventory to ensure you are meeting customer demand. Prioritizing your best-selling products is one surefire way to keep customers happy and loyal. Port congestion, a growing shortage of truck drivers and myriad other factors can keep your most prized products in a bottleneck. Consistent assessment of customer wants and needs  is imperative to ensuring on-time delivery without taking a financial hit as you scurry to please.

Take the time to not only develop good working relationships with your vendors, but incorporate back-up plans to minimize potential disruption as you seamlessly work hand-in-hand to ensure ample amounts of your best inventory.

With so much uncertainty around inventory and supply chain factors, you can eliminate the potential possibility of shortages of best-selling products by making replenishing those your top priority.

 

Find a logistics ally

Over the past year, there have been significant changes in the behavior of e-commerce. The shift in the norm of online shopping and retail has posed challenges for logistics as well as extensive delays for the upstream and downstream supply chains.

There are various aspects to consider to keep operations running smoothly, especially during times of uncertainty. Preparing in advance for uncertain impacts can secure a winning position for e-commerce retailers. Managing logistics, especially through a supply chain crisis can be a multifaceted process. While fundamental to your e-commerce business, as a leader your core competency may not lie in keeping track of all the moving parts. Ensuring customer satisfaction and quality service should always be top of mind, partnering with an expert in logistics can go a long way in setting you on the right path. I mean let’s face it whether it’s the holidays, non-peak season, natural disaster, or a pandemic, consumers expect a flawless experience and quality service throughout the entire customer journey.

Outsourcing your logistics provides you with access to capabilities you may not have and helps manage customer expectations through disruptions. At Oceanwing we help guide and support brands through the chaos. Once a key area of our expertise is in holistic sales operations support which includes logistics and warehouse management along with customer service.

Effectively managing e-commerce business logistics especially through the chaos brought on by the supply chain crisis positions you for continued success. Embedding these elements into your long-term strategy is sure to set you on the right path.

 

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