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How eCommerce businesses can overcome supply chain disruption

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By Punit Sindhwani, CEO, Paxcom

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) reports that 62% of the companies questioned faced delays in obtaining items, while 75% of enterprises reported supply chain disruptions and 80% anticipated various kinds of disruptions in the near future.

The endurance of the e-commerce supply chain has been put to the test more than ever in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused extended periods of global lockdown and chaos, was probably the toughest challenge.

Building supply chain resilience is what e-commerce companies should concentrate on doing in order to prepare for the next significant unforeseen incident.

Causes of Supply Chain Disruption
The pandemic brought about a change in consumer habits, which has led to an increase in e-commerce sales. To keep up with this trend, traditional pure-play brick-and-mortar businesses that had been hesitant to expand their online presence began launching or expanding their e-commerce product lines. However, the following led to severe supply side interruptions for a large number of businesses such as:

-Increased border controls
-A lack of raw materials
-A lack of transportation capacity
-a lack of visibility that is necessary for producing and transporting critical goods
-Inconvenience in managing multi-channel supply chains

How Expectations of Consumers Accelerated Disruptions
Customers’ demands for transparency regarding their shipping and delivery have grown. They expect large return windows, free shipping, flexible delivery options, quick track-and-trace capabilities, and more.

Despite the fact that some brands have included these services in their operations, others have had difficulty making these choices part of their standard operating procedures.

What Can Brands Do to Handle the Current Supply Chain Crisis?
Many businesses have experimented with various strategies to deal with the present supply chain issues. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) firms, according to Blue Yonder, have used strategies like collaborating with micro-fulfillment centers and developing infrastructure to support a variety of delivery drop-off and pick-up methods.

E-commerce will continue to move in an upward direction even if the existing supply chain problems persist and new ones develop.

Centralize Information 
These tactics can aid businesses in meeting consumer demands and current inventory issues. However, there is one more crucial area supply chain managers need to pay more attention to: clean and reliable data. This is because the current logistics industry is becoming more complex and requires more flexibility.

Manufacturers, retailers, warehouses, and delivery services are used to all operate independently and concentrate only on their respective fields of expertise. A recent research study explains that this made it difficult to accurately or timely gather information on the complete supply chain, which led to periodic overproduction and shortages of items.
Customers now expect more seamless omnichannel experiences, so brands must consolidate data from all partners and establish a single source of truth for information.

Better Product Information Management
The best course of action is to put a product information management (PIM) system in place. PIM enables you to:
-Distribute accurate and dependable information through all media.
-Discover your ecosystem’s supply, capacity, and inventory in real time.
-Eliminate data silos.
-Increase supply chain visibility.
-Foster transparency, and fortify teamwork.
-Improve corporate performance.

Accenture claims that companies with digital platforms, data that is easily available, and sophisticated analytical capabilities will be better able to react to disruptions brought on by COVID-19.

This is in line with DHL’s research, which claims that “the need for accurate information about product availability, shipping, and inventory counts will become the single-most strategic element for driving bottom-line success and establishing customer loyalty.”

Order management
An order management system (OMS) supports all the stages in your company’s sales process — from order creation through delivery and even returns.

OMS platforms provide a single, centralized system for managing orders from multiple sales channels, including brick-and-mortar locations, websites, call centers, mobile orders, kiosks and more. It simplifies the buying process for customers and makes it easier to manage orders, inventory, fulfillment, and returns for businesses.

This system provides a unified view of orders received from different channels and offers:

-Intelligent routing engine: it automatically routes orders to appropriate warehouses and distributors.
-Comprehensive configurable routing rules based on location, inventory availability, inventory methods, etc.
-Integration with leading marketplaces, web stores, and POS systems
-Automatic order confirmation & fulfillment workflow
-Integration with accounting systems for Invoicing & Taxes
-Simple management of returns

Warehouse & inventory management

It helps with real-time inventory across different channels. It also helps with:

-Inwards management, stock adjustments, inter-warehouse & intra-warehouse transfers
-Fulfillment workflow with picklist, pack list, ready to ship with reassignments options
-Automatic inventory allocation as per item-level inventory method with custom override options
-RTO & customer returns management
-Minimum & maximum inventory levels with customized alerts
-Customized product label printing
-Integration with 3PLs with shipping manifest & waybill printing and order tracking
-Vendor management for procurement
-Audit trail, access rights management

Warehouse Management System (WMS)
It is a software solution that offers visibility into a business’s entire inventory and manages supply chain fulfillment operations from the distribution center to the store shelf. Warehouse Management (WMS) solutions additionally enable companies to maximize their labor and space utilization and equipment investments by coordinating and optimizing resource usage and material flows. Specifically, WMS systems are designed to support the needs of an entire global supply chain, including distribution, manufacturing, asset-intensive, and service businesses. In today’s dynamic, omnichannel, fulfillment economy, connected consumers want to buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, and return anywhere. In order to be able to meet this need, businesses need the ability to respond quickly with warehouse management software that optimizes fulfillment capabilities.

A different kind of supply chain will be needed in this quick-moving, fragmented, and consumer-focused environment. Traditional supply chains are aimed at cost-effectiveness and reliability. Future supply chains will have to be far more dynamic in order to forecast, plan for, and react to a quickly changing demand as well as a constantly shifting product and channel mix. In other words, supply chains will need to become agile. Businesses need to be more proactive, analyze data, seek out substitute suppliers and products, and inform the clients.

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