Warehousing and transportation are at the heart of supply chain for any eCommerce enterprise, especially retail. Businesses rely on being able to get physical goods from point A, to their customer as fast as possible, and with total reliability. The future of retail eCommerce supply chain is surely rooted in technology and data. Which gives the ability to see where you are succeeding and where you are falling short center technology with your customers. How are retailers gearing up for supply chain optimization in the new year? Let’s explore a few best practices that are already changing the face of retail eCommerce supply chain.
The Importance of Warehousing
Warehousing is of vital importance to eCommerce retail businesses. They offer better order fulfillment, storage, security and inventory management. Not every business has the budget to build, staff and maintain their own warehouses. And are thus, turning to third-party options. Working with a third-party warehouse means you can outsource your order fulfillment to the expert staff who do these tasks daily. Storage is also a huge benefit. It allows their third party to take over the expense of storage, which requires a large staff, equipment, and of course, space.
Security is another huge budget item you can knock off when using a third party. Your warehousing partner should be set up with all the alarms, security codes and access restrictions you need to protect your products in storage and in transit. Finally, inventory management is easily handled by this third-party partner. They ideally have all the technology needed to easily manage your inventory and alert you to any needs before they become an issue. Let’s explore a few of the less obvious benefits of using third-parties for warehousing and transportation.
- Data and Analytics
The future of retail, e-Commerce and supply chain rests squarely in the realm of data and analytics. Mountains of information are flowing into each and every company, giving them numbers-based information about their customers. For example, who they are, how their customers are experiencing your product or service, and a landslide of other vital information that can make or break your company. Looking at the right data and analytics when considering your supply chain will tell you exactly where your product is. It is also compared to where your customers are, and where you should physically be to optimize your supply chain and delivery for customers.
- Machine Learning and AI
Did you know that AI can handle about 45% of customer inquiries without any help from a human staff member? Imagine how much pressure this could take off your staff! Machine learning and AI are great technologies to deploy when future-proofing your eCommerce retail and associated supply chain. The right technology, deployed at the right time, means increased automation, a function proven to delight customers. Specially the speed and accuracy of most processes, including shipping. Many eCommerce retailers are making use of smart GPS technology to optimize their delivery order. It sets the optimum route for both time and fuel. AI can also be used to automate inventory management, helping businesses be prepared for anything at any time.
- Micro Fulfillment
Micro fulfillment involves setting up small warehouses close to your biggest customer bases. This allows you to get your products out faster, in customer hands and restocked for the next round of orders. The closer your warehouses are, the less gas you will use for delivery, and the faster your packages will arrive. Many enterprises are focusing on building or renting a shipping warehouse in hopes of offering the fastest, or even same-day service and delivery to customers.
- Sharing Resources
Not every company is Amazon, with masses of potential partners and unending resources. Smaller eCommerce retail businesses don’t always have the budget or capabilities to be everywhere at once. These makes it vital that you build partnerships and share resources. For example, if shipping has been a struggle, consider working with a trusted third-party to provide all your shipping. Partnering with the right third-party at this stage will give you access to the trust they have already fostered with customers.
Customers have high expectations of the eCommerce retailers. These expectations are getting higher by the day, as the world shifts to focus on eCommerce over traditional brick and mortar retail stores. The future of the retail eCommerce supply chain is no different. They promise to play a hugely important role with all eCommerce businesses. With so many resources and third-party shipping and warehousing options available, it’s smart to start thinking about how you can use their expertise to boost your own business.