3 supply chain strategies to boost e-commerce operations

Perfecting the right e-commerce supply chain strategy in 2021 can help overcome the uncertainty of supply-and-demand disruptions.
14 January 2021

Perfecting the right e-commerce supply strategy in 2021 can overcome the uncertainty of supply-and-demand disruptions. Source: Shuttrstock

  • Streamlining the right e-commerce supply chain strategy can help overcome the uncertainty of supply-and-demand disruptions this year

Last year saw a wave digitalization hitting customer-oriented businesses. The pandemic impacted every industry in one way or another, but consumer businesses had to find new ways to connect with an audience separated by physical distancing. For many, that signaled an overnight shift towards e-commerce.

But despite quicker acceptance of online strategies, there were numerous obstacles to running a smooth e-commerce operation. The production, packaging, shipping, transportation, and last-mile delivery of products were upended by a sudden surge in consumer demand. On top of that, the mass migration to online channels has led to greater competition among retailers, and even greater expectations from customers.

With that said, focusing on digital sales as opposed to physical allowed a lot of room to grow these new avenues – and fortunately today there are many innovative digital assets to enhance the shopping and shipping experience.

TechHQ looks at three e-commerce supply chain strategies that began to take off in 2020, and should make a world of difference to online sales in 2021.

Optimizing shipping & delivery

The dual millstone of high shipping costs and slow delivery speeds can increase shopping cart abandonment rates – 44% of online customers who bailout of purchases say costs are the number one reason, and 24% of customers cancel orders due to slow delivery speeds.

With 73% of e-commerce shoppers expecting cheap and swift delivery in a competitive online environment (everyone has a website with e-commerce features nowadays), cutting transportation costs and prioritizing speedier deliveries stands a better chance of repeat orders and garnering more word-of-mouth referrals.

A great way to optimize shipping and delivery processes is by using multi-distribution centers. This is the method of splitting inventory across more than one warehouse, with the benefit that products can be shipped to customers from a warehouse or center that is closer to them.

Multi-distribution is especially beneficial if there is international reach, or if big-ticket items are constantly being purchased off your platform. A combination of multi-distribution warehousing and an automated system to assess and automatically configure the best fulfillment locations and routes could help streamline your e-commerce supply chain while keeping your costs manageable – lowering the charges for the customer as well.

Invest in tech

Allotting money for business software programs helps reduce manpower costs and processing times. E-commerce businesses should thus automate where they can, particularly back-office systems such as administrative processes and accounting work.

Errors caused by humans in the selection of the right products or services, keying in the right purchases, shipping details, and account information are experienced by up to 29% of online buyers, decreasing business’ profits and productivity by up to 10%.

Automating order tracking and inventory management with software such as automated barcode technology could greatly reduce this possibility, cutting down the need for a middle man and the likelihood of human error.

Prioritizing customer care

Some businesses don’t see customer service as an aspect of the supply chain. But a supply chain isn’t finished until the customer successfully receives their product. 86% of customers are willing to spend more money on a product if they receive good customer service.

Along with quick shipping and a competitive price, online customers expect a high level of responsiveness to different customer needs, which puts a VoIP service at a high priority for e-commerce businesses to round out their supply chain.

Support channels can sometimes make up the difference of easing customer concerns that would otherwise be addressed by walking into a brick-and-mortar outlet and seeing/touching the product for themselves, so making them available at every instance via a cloud-based contact center solution or through an AI-powered chatbot that can respond to customer queries even during offpeak hours, can become a vital advantage to customer retention.