Even during good times, business risk is everywhere. This is particularly so for small- and medium-size firms, which face constant pressure from all sides, whether challenged by upstart competitors or established players. As if that weren’t enough, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted purchasing channels and driven unprecedented online shopping demand.
Recent survey data shows that 88 percent of consumers shifted their shopping patterns in response to the pandemic, ushering in a new era of B2E, or Business to Everyone. Effective B2E operations require that companies deliver goods to wholesalers, retailers, and e-commerce consumers seamlessly—and simultaneously—while integrating operations, logistics, and fast shipping.
Serve customers faster and more efficiently.
Digital commerce allows companies of all sizes to compete for sales; however, when it comes to supply chain, large enterprise holds a tremendous advantage in terms of footprint and resources. Our “new normal” requires that mid-size organizations reimagine and transform their supply chain. Merchants need to mitigate risk but also leverage their supply chain as a competitive advantage and hedge against unpredictable spikes in demand, cost, and other unforeseen disruptions. It’s important to identify partners that can transform your supply chain without requiring large capital investments and lengthy implementation cycles. Speed is a competitive advantage for many mid-sized merchants, and you need a partner that is accustomed to the cadence and expectations of today’s consumer.
Many firms have bolstered supply chains by partnering with on-demand warehousing networks like Ware2Go to serve customers faster and more efficiently. By outsourcing fulfillment to a logistics partner, these firms have made progress towards eliminating single points of failure, reducing delivery times for competitive advantage, and diversifying logistics footprints to achieve an overall solution that scales with demand.
Use a distributed supply chain.
Some businesses rely on only one partner or warehouse location for logistics, creating high potential for “single thread” failures. Exposing these failure points is usually accomplished via a supply chain audit, which examines interactions at each point in the process.
From the point of origination to final consumption, this network analysis helps map an ideal supply chain and will often reveal that the failure of one component can derail the entire system and prevent goods from getting to market. This “single thread” risk is why a network of warehouses is useful, providing a distributed supply chain to eliminate single points of failure and create a better customer experience.
Offer speedy, low-cost delivery.
For small firms, speed is also a critical differentiator, and supply chain solutions that enable rapid market response are critical. Modern supply chains should deliver quality experiences across all channels, and customers expect cheap or free two-day delivery, as well as streamlined access to resources like pricing and inventory data.
Leading-edge vendors have designed their regional footprints to dispatch packages quickly, allowing shipments to arrive on time and at a lower shipping cost, while backing them up with systems that provide comprehensive oversight and management tools.
Secure operational elasticity and reduce overhead.
A reimagined supply chain enables companies to be more financially efficient. While some capital costs like inventory are inflexible, high-overhead fixed costs like unused office or warehouse space can be eliminated by employing a pay-as-you-go model. This elastic, demand-driven cost structure is highly efficient because costs grow only in proportion to the business. And by finding supply chain partners that don’t require a capital investment or a long-term financial commitment, companies can preserve cash while obtaining visibility into future expenditures.
Adapt quickly: A customer example.
ECR4Kids is a company that creates children’s classroom furniture and educational products. Before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted distribution models, ECR4Kids was sending roughly half of its orders to residential addresses and half to commercial addresses.
As consumers began sheltering in place, demand shifted to as high as 85 percent of their shipping orders going residential. Because of their partnership with Ware2Go, ECR4Kids felt no operational strain or compromised customer experiences as they shifted their transit to B2E to match the order channel.
Minimize supply chain risk.
Ultimately, leading-edge supply chain solutions can deliver agility and flexibility, while leveraging speed and cost savings for a competitive advantage. In a world where uncertainty reigns, retooling the supply chain is key to competing and winning.