Guest Post: 6 Ways To Streamline Your E-Commerce Supply Chain

Jun 08, 2022

(Image Source: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

E-commerce is one of the fastest-growing industries. During the pandemic, consumers were forced to use online shopping alternatives. Since then, the e-commerce business has been booming.

If you’re taking advantage of the current e-commerce boom and running an e-commerce business, you need to know how to streamline your e-commerce supply chain. Keep reading for a complete guide on streamlining your e-commerce supply chain and optimizing your daily business operations.

Why Streamline Your Supply Chain?

As an e-commerce business, you need to keep up with any changes in the market, and you need to improve your operational efficiency. Your supply chain consists of the people, activity, information, and resources in the system that gets your products from the manufacturer to the consumer.

It is vital to prioritize the efficiency of your supply chain, as failing to manage your supply chain competently will result in the following issues:

  • Failing to meet the demands of sales – if you cannot supply your customers with the products they ordered on your e-commerce platform, this will result in negative reviews. Negative reviews will push your products down in the search ranking, which could be disastrous for your business.

  • Paying too much for transportation – if you do not streamline your supply chain, you may be paying too much for transportation or other supply chain services that could affect the profitability of your business.

  • Slow delivery and shipping rates – you need to be consistently aware of the solutions and services at your disposal to help you ship your products faster. Shipping times can influence consumers’ decision to buy your product, so that shipping rates could affect your sales.

The success of your e-commerce business is contingent upon your dedication to consistently improving and streamlining your business operations. Keep reading for the top ways you can ensure that your supply chain is streamlined and that your business can keep up with competitors.

How to Streamline Your Supply Chain?

Now that we have discussed why you should streamline your e-commerce supply chain, let’s discuss some top tips and trends for your supply chain and ensure your e-commerce business is operating at maximum efficiency.

Implementing MRP Software

MRP software is the key to centralizing all data regarding your supply chain on one platform to provide better insights. Your MRP software can house data from the following facets of your business:

  • Inventory management

  • Order management

  • Batch tracing

  • Financial reporting

  • Custom workflows

Visibility is vital for your e-commerce business. By housing all of your data on different platforms such as workflow platforms, spreadsheets, and inventory management software, you will not be able to leverage the data as effectively. By housing all data regarding your supply chain on one platform, you can quickly analyze the data to make more educated decisions for your business.

By streamlining the data associated with your supply chain, you will have taken a significant step toward simplifying your supply chain.

Factory-Direct Manufacturing

Once you have found a stable source for your products, it is essential to maintain a good relationship with your manufacturers. By communicating effectively with your manufacturers, you will be better equipped to inform them of your needs and requirements. 

You should also communicate with your manufacturer to determine whether there are solutions that can help to streamline the manufacturing process of your products, allowing you to get them to market faster.

Improving Shipping Times And Costs

Shipping times are becoming a huge factor in outperforming your e-commerce competitors. The shipping time of your products will directly influence consumers’ decisions to purchase your products. If another seller is offering a similar product with faster shipping, they are more likely to opt for it.

A significant number of e-commerce stores, including Amazon, offer shipping in one day to a wide range of customers spanning the US. This means that to compete with the big names in the industry, startup e-commerce businesses must offer competitive shipping.

To improve your shipping times, consider opting for a third-party logistics company that can help you to ship your products faster. A third-party logistics company will have its fulfillment centers closer to your customers in various locations. The logistics company may also be able to get you better pricing due to the volume they carry – they will be able to negotiate with carriers for better pricing. 

So, to keep your edge on the competition, consider investing in third-party logistics or 3PL.

Maintaining An Awareness Of Regulations

You will not be expected to become an expert on e-commerce laws and regulations. However, to ensure your business does not suffer losses due to broken regulations and laws, it’s best to gain at least a basic understanding of regulations and any changes in regulations that could potentially affect your business.

Here are some of the regulations you should be aware of to gain a basic understanding of e-commerce law:

  • E-commerce tax laws and regulations – failing to file and pay your e-commerce taxes properly could be extremely detrimental to your business. So, it’s in your best interest to maintain an awareness of tax regulations and obligations and keep up to date with any changes regarding your tax payments.

  • Securing payment gateways – it is essential to understand your liability when protecting and securing payment gateways for your customers. If there is a breach, you will hurt your brand’s reputation, and you could receive a significant regulatory fine.

  • Copyrights, trademarks, and patents – you need to protect your own business with copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Otherwise, another company may begin to use your products and branding. If you use trademarked art or property for your products, you need permission. If you don’t, you could be held liable.

  • Shipping regulations – not all shipping companies have the same rules and regulations for which products they can carry. Most companies will have an available list of restricted items on their website. However, you must be aware of any pending changes in these restrictions to make secondary arrangements for any products they will no longer carry.

Regardless of your awareness of shipping regulations and other e-commerce regulations, you may still be held liable for any mistakes made by your supply chain. To mitigate this concern, it’s best to invest in business insurance or reseller insurance for your e-commerce business.

Using Modern Technologies

Cloud-based technology is revolutionizing business operations in several sectors. Your e-commerce business can streamline its supply chain by investing in modern technologies that will speed up daily processes and improve the accuracy of data input. Some of the best technologies for an e-commerce business supply chain include:

  • RFID barcodes – manual data entry leaves a massive margin for human error, which may result in lost or incorrectly labeled inventory. You can remove this margin for error by investing in a barcode system for your warehousing. By scanning barcodes, warehouse employees will be able to log your products into the system more accurately, and you will have an improved awareness of your inventory’s location.

  • Cloud-based security – theft is a significant issue for any business that uses warehousing services. An essential factor in your warehousing decisions should be security. With integrated cloud-based door access control and video security, the system will protect your warehouse from intruders and breaches, and the security system will provide real-time alerts based on security events.

6 Ways To Streamline Your eCommerce Supply Chain - Inventory Management Software

(Image Source: Tech Daily on Unsplash)

Inventory Management Software

One of the biggest challenges to navigate as you manage your e-commerce supply chain is inventory management. By handling inventory management yourself, you leave a significant margin of error. Inventory management can be highly time-consuming, so the success of your business is contingent upon your ability to automate tasks like this and free up your time. 

Inventory management software has the following benefits for your supply chain:

  • Increased visibility – inventory management software increases awareness of where your products are, which can be particularly difficult should your products be located in different warehouses. Your stock levels will be automatically updated when one of your products sells.

  • Forecasting – You can have improved insights into your current stock levels with inventory management software, but you can also gain better insights into sales forecasts. When you better understand your sales forecasts, you can make more informed decisions regarding your future stock levels.  You are bound to experience sales peaks and troughs throughout the year, and predicting these fluctuations is essential.

  • Preventing stockouts and overselling – you need to immediately list your products as sold out on your website to ensure that you do not disappoint customers that have purchased your items. Inventory management software can help you avoid stockouts and overselling, ensuring that your brand maintains a good reputation and your sales remain consistent.

Summing Up

Your supply chain is instrumental in creating a good reputation for your brand and matching your competitors. With the rise of e-commerce, the need for fast shipping has become increasingly important. By streamlining your supply chain, cutting costs, and using third-party logistics providers, you will be able to ensure your business thrives in the competitive e-commerce industry, whether you’re a small startup or a larger established e-commerce company.

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