The right digital tools can help transform supply chain efficiencies, performance

In today’s e-commerce environment, traditional logistical and management solutions can no longer keep pace with rapidly increasing traffic and sales, as e-commerce transactions are expected to account for 20.2% of all retail sales by the end of 2023. With e-commerce activity rising at this rapid rate, suppliers and retailers are looking to gain better visibility into their supply chain to cut back on waste, and increase efficiency over the next 12-36 months.

Outdated manual and labor-intensive supply chain management practices have the potential to create inefficiencies, flatten business growth and even damage a business’ reputation. In order to keep up with customer demand — while mitigating supply chain risk and promoting sustainability — retailers across industries must now prioritize digital transformation and employ the automated and advanced tools needed to power output.

From merchandise including big and bulky items like furniture to smaller household items — e-commerce and mobile activity will continue to trend upwards, as consumers now seek a fast, convenient and hands-off shopping experience from every retailer. Here are some tips for retailers and businesses to consider, in order to digitally transform operations and build a more effective and secure supply chain that can meet these rising demands:

  • Invest in automation: The best way to scale business growth and keep up with swelling e-commerce activity is to explore how automated and AI-powered tools can streamline supply chain operations. Supply chain data has historically been fragmented and difficult to manage — as supply chain professionals are tasked with juggling coordinating logistics, tracking inventory, trend forecasting and more. Employing AI tools can help make sense of these large volumes of data, offering better insights into which products need to be replenished, which items are trending and where potential waste lies. This increased visibility can help eliminate unnecessary risk or waste within retailers’ supply chains and supercharge productivity for logistics teams — across all industries. 
  • Ensure tools are the right fit: It’s critical for retailers and suppliers to invest in tools that can help streamline specific business functions, that align with their unique needs as an organization. For example, a retailer specializing in large parcel items should invest in software and digital tools specifically designed with these industry considerations in mind — accounting for customer demand, freight costs, cross border challenges and more. Tools designed for e-commerce sellers specializing in smaller and household items may not take the same considerations, as this merchandise comes with a unique set of logistics.

Further, certain tools may primarily cater to smaller e-commerce sellers and help to cover supply chain basics, while some are better suited to large, multinational organizations that require more extensive management and oversight. When it comes to shopping for tools to enhance supply chain operations, specialization is key. Before jumping to try out the first tool they come across, businesses should do their research to ensure that their supply chain software is the best fit for their organization’s unique needs.

  • Consider software that will reduce touchpoints: Across industries, retailers are struggling to manage supply chain operations — often handling a large number of touchpoints that can increase risk, decrease visibility and create damage and waste. Prioritizing digital tools that can predict trends and pinpoint areas of wastefulness and risk in the supply chain journey can provide the insight needed to make more informed logistical decisions, eliminate the need for extra touchpoints and warehouses, and minimize transaction variances that lead to faster and more well-organized order fulfillment. When it comes to supply chain operations, fewer touchpoints equates to less risk, and businesses should prioritize software that can help identify and eliminate these inefficiencies.

As consumers continue to demand speed and accuracy from e-commerce retailers across every industry, retailers must invest in digital and automated tools now — to prevent costly errors and inefficiencies that can have a ripple effect across the entire supply chain, and even damage brand reputation in the long run. In today’s digital-first world, businesses must now prioritize digital transformation — to meet consumers where they are and fuel future growth.

Iman Schrock is president of GigaCloud Technology. Recently the company was in the news for placing an $85 million bid for e-commerce resource Noble House Home Furnishings.

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