Supply Chain Management will be a challenge for Online Retailers in 2014

Supply chain management is a pivotal part of any successful eCommerce operation. The ability to get the appropriate items in stock on a consistent basis is crucial to satisfying the needs of customers. Additionally, a well-oiled supply chain allows online retailers to shift inventory between different distribution points and stores, enabling retailers to gain greater flexibility and more responsiveness.

However, as ShopperTrak recently noted, disruptions in supply chains can also have a negative impact on revenue. Poor weather made supply chains more volatile during the last week of the holiday season and affected delivery schedules significantly. Stores didn’t get the merchandise they wanted in time, and in turn, they couldn’t sell those products to customers.

Supply chain management is a pivotal part of any successful eCommerce operation.

According to Retailing Today contributor Matthew Menner, supply chains will play a pivotal role as online retailers make adjustments for 2014. Now that online retailers realize how supply chains can affect them, they will need to identify risks and opportunities associated with this area of their eCommerce operations. Here are some of the core challenges identified by Menner:

  • Tightening capacity:

    The economy has been slow to recover over the past few years, which meant that consumers didn’t spend as much on retail. However, there is no doubt that people are feeling more financially secure and retail spending is on the rise as a result. This means online retailers will be moving more inventory in 2014, and they need their supply chain to be able to keep up with rising demand.

  • New regulations:

    The transportation industry is being hit by numerous new regulations, such as new limits to hours of service, that may make supply chains run a bit more slowly than before. While retailers can’t do much to directly affect these regulations, they can work around them by using eCommerce software to better manage the flow of inventory between locations and distribution points.

  • Demand response:

    Online retailers are always looking to be more responsive. Real-time technology allows them to monitor inventory levels in real-time, and if a sudden spike in demand means they need more inventory, they need to be able to respond. Supply chain management plays a pivotal role in this process.

“As a result, many forward-thinking retailers are putting processes in place to create more efficient, cost-effective supply chains,” Menner added. “These retailers are implementing supplier compliance initiatives with tight delivery windows- including penalties for not delivering shipments on-time- adding increased complexity to the supply chain for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.”

Tightening up inventory and supply chain management

Fortunately, savvy retailers will be in a good spot to deal with these supply chain and inventory management challenges, provided they have the right tools at their disposal.

The ability to get the right items in stock on a regular basis is crucial to satisfying the needs of customers.

Modern eCommerce solutions such as SalesWarp allow for real-time inventory management across marketplaces, all while coordinating activity from drop shippers, warehouses and third-party logistics providers. Inventory levels are updated automatically as orders are received and inventory files are imported, streamlining supply chain management.

With the help of the right eCommerce platform, merchants can easily purchase and restock inventory without skipping a beat. The end result is a responsive retailer that’s better able to adapt the supply chain to the needs and demands of its customers, which will have a direct result on the retailer’s bottom line.