10 ways e-commerce businesses can overcome supply chain disruption
In recent years, the resilience of the e-commerce supply chain has been tested like never before. One of the biggest challenges has been the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in prolonged lockdowns and disruptions worldwide. The issue of global supply chains has received a lot of attention recently. Consumers have been advised to start shopping for the holiday season early due to inventory shortages and shipping delays, with some shoppers reporting minimal or even empty shelves in retail stores. Businesses, too, are feeling the pain of supply chain disruptions as they face everything from difficulties in procuring needed supplies to being unable to fulfil customer orders as quickly as they used to.
But, e-commerce businesses can overcome this. Here are 10 ways they can do so:
1. Use models to predict disruption. The problem is not the supply chain disruption itself. The problem is that as businesses optimise their supply chains, even small disruptions can have a disproportionate impact. Businesses need to build resilience against growing disruptions. Therefore, the use of models to predict disruption, and the use of technology to understand the impact and plan for recovery, should be routine.
2. Consider first-party retail data. By leveraging retail data, retailers can forecast demand and prioritise products that will be in demand. This shifts the focus to products that make a difference to customers.
3. Use interconnected software solutions. Businesses need interconnected software solutions that provide real-time updates, manage and track materials, and minimise bottlenecks from offices to warehouses to supply chains. These solutions help businesses deliver results on time and on budget by providing the visibility to make quick decisions in response to today’s volatile business conditions.
4. Ensure visibility. A key strategy is a supply chain control tower that provides end-to-end visibility through artificial intelligence and machine learning. End-to-end visibility allows inventory to be better routed in real-time to match demand signals. This enables businesses to proactively respond to future disruptions with predictive and autonomous capabilities. This transparency ensures that the right resources (inventory, staff, and equipment) are available in the right place at the right time to ensure supply meets demand.
5. Consider the Internet of Things. Integrating an Internet of Things strategy with your manufacturing and logistics capabilities can provide a new level of powerful, real-time visibility as to where your products are in your outbound supply chain.
6. Strengthen cybersecurity. A data breach within the supply chain can further disrupt a delicate situation. Digital supply chain infrastructure built on open-source projects is increasing supply chain vulnerabilities. Businesses are encouraged to conduct supply chain security audits and penetration tests to identify and remediate vulnerabilities immediately.
7. Use prediction analytics. A supply chain problem could be a data problem. It is possible to model consumption accurately and plan production and transportation appropriately. Companies should start collecting all operational data and invest in predictive analytics. Most operational data is sensitive, and care must be taken to keep it secure and encrypted.
8. Inform customers about disruptions. Smart business leaders should integrate AI into every customer conversation. You can inform your customers about any disruptions related to their orders by sending them personalised communications. Innovative companies use technologies like these to keep their customers informed and satisfied in today’s volatile world.
9. Use system-based simulation engines. A system-based simulation engine for predicting, managing, and planning extreme disruption scenarios will be a key advantage in minimising supply chain risk. Advanced engines like these push the boundaries of traditional solutions and are essential for real-time planning capabilities, improved data quality, and improved visibility to help businesses navigate in the face of ongoing crises.
10. Use AI. More and more companies are using AI to analyse data sets to better understand customer behaviour and predict future demand. By improving predictive capabilities, businesses can streamline their supply chains while saving valuable time and resources. Tackling supply chain volatility through better short-term decision-making can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
The bottom line
Supply chain disruptions may not be unavoidable, but there are ways to handle and prepare for them. By following these 10 steps, e-commerce businesses can find themselves better prepared.