Imagine this: you have high visibility, your inventory has been optimized, there are rarely any stockouts, and customer orders get picked, packed, and delivered timely. Sounds too good to be true? Well, managing an e-commerce supply chain can be tricky, but it’s not too out of reach.
79% of the companies with highly optimized supply chains achieve revenue growth greater than their competitors. And that’s because tackling challenges to optimize an e-commerce supply chain goes beyond logistics fulfillment and cost-cutting. In the long run, it presents you with opportunities that can improve your customer relationships and expand your sales channels, especially the ones that are online.
B2B E-Commerce Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is the very foundation on top of which your offline and online operations are built. The B2B e-commerce supply chain management is all about handling the strategic sequence of logistics processes that constitute the supply chain. That can go from raw material production, manufacturing of finished goods, their storage, fulfilling orders all the way to final delivery.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to deliver a quality product to your customers, and that requires overseeing both inbound and outbound logistics. Optimizing this very process helps increase productivity and then eventually, profit margins and customer satisfaction.
Supply Chain Management — Challenges And Their Solutions
Managing the supply chain for multiple businesses can be quite a task. Some of the various inherent challenges in the B2B e-commerce supply chain management are found in production planning, material management, final distribution, and more. With that in mind, here we have listed some of the most trying challenges in this sector and the most practical solutions in dealing with them.
Various costs often inch up the entire supply chain and are often hidden from sight. Say, the increase in fuel costs can bring a sharp rise in the transportation charges by all road, air, and sea. Then there’s increasing commodity prices, labor charges, inventory costs in international storage, database software, etc. With all this, your profit margins are bound to come under immense pressure.
The solution here would be to control your costs through constant and perpetual monitoring and committing to warehouse efficiency paradigms. On another note, the best in their game have already connected their front-end CX with everything back-end. Being dependent on standalone applications all across the organization is a mistake as it hurts your visibility and raises administrative costs.
2. Quality Customer Service
89% of the B2B buyers say that the experience a company provides is just as important as its core offerings. The competition is tough out there, and your customers have never had more options. Every industry is getting disrupted with rapid digitization, and hence, it has become more of a need for you to go the extra mile.
One of the best solutions for providing quality service to your consumers would be to leverage a chatbot software service. With that, you’ll remain accessible 24×7, and your customers can get answers to their queries instantly in most cases.
For all other matters, the speed with which you deliver is just as important as your product itself. If your goods are available in retail, your consumers expect them as quickly as possible. Plus, their quality must meet the set standards; otherwise, you risk losing them to those who can make it happen.
Going a step back, it’s also essential that you comply with all the regulations of the land where you’re conducting business. The raw materials used in the early production phase must comply with the regulations and laws and be safe for usage where they’ll finally be sold.
It is imperative you understand that the most successful B2B e-commerce businesses are those that meet consumer requirements to the finest of details & delivers state of the art customer service.
3. Risk Management
The market is volatile, and consumer demands are always shifting. Plus, there are global issues and political agendas which can pose major challenges for the operations of any B2B e-commerce business.
But even if we don’t go that far, you can’t afford to neglect the risks on the supplier end. As a possible solution, it’s safe to have multiple suppliers in case one of them falters. It’s also suggested that you invest in a cargo insurance plan to minimize the supply chain risks.
The disruptions will be frequent, and you will need to review the market trends frequently. The only way to deal with risks is to plan ahead with a robust risk management plan which shall serve as emergency guidelines on running your operations.
4. Unforeseen Delays
If the efficiency of your supply chain is unpredictable, it’s easy to believe that delays are not under your control — that even if you procure all your raw materials and wind up the production on time, you’d still be delayed. And since most of your customers are dependent on your timely deliveries for their operations to be smooth, these situations, regardless of whether they are unforeseen, can be problematic.
There are various factors at play here. Delays can arise from political circumstances, which can, for instance, increase customs processing times, or say, when you decide to increase the volume of goods sourced internationally, and it spikes the congestion at ports.
Your job here, as supply chain managers, would be to predict problems before they happen. You can build relationships and contracts that are foolproof and put your business on priority by planning ahead of time to set a teleconference meeting with relevant stakeholders and keeping other communication lines open.
And if all that fails to materialize, you must maintain buffer stocks that can create a cushion in situations over which you don’t have any control.
5. Fast-Changing Markets
In the tech world, currently, every day is like Christmas. There’s always something disruptive getting dropped in the market, and as a business, it can be exhausting to keep up with everything around you. Having said that, we must find a way to stay agile and flexible in the way we handle the volatile markets.
How do you do that? Well, this is a fast-changing market. It only makes sense that we increase our speed to match it. For that, you can train your workforce with the technologies you trust are here to stay and are directly related to your business.
How Solving These Challenges Improves Ecommerce
E-commerce supply chains don’t work in silos — connectivity is a major factor that determines how your business grows as a whole. Any challenge you face, be it shortages, warehouse under-utilization, spiking shipping charges, etc., will eventually cut your profit margin down and shun your growth. Consequently, solving these challenges on priority directly improves your e-commerce infrastructure.
All businesses currently re-evaluating their supply chain for complications understand the sheer importance of agility and scaling quickly. The challenges listed above are quite broad and cover most of the B2B e-commerce companies and beyond. Having said that, you must pinpoint the issues in your supply chain, as it’s largely subjective. All said and done, optimizing your e-commerce supply chain goes a long way toward improving productivity, and hence customer satisfaction.