Ecommerce is shaking up the supply chain significantly. Consumers have purchasing power at their fingertips, and many retailers are struggling to keep up. When orders flow in quickly and supplier freight is coming from many directions, supply chain complexity can become notoriously difficult to manage.
For many companies the shift to ecommerce has ushered in an era of rapid growth and expansion. Though desirable, this growth may quickly cripple organizations whose supply chains are not equipped for such rapid scaling. This scenario has played out for many retailers who now find themselves juggling relationships with dozens of suppliers and warehouses across the globe. Although an ad hoc approach may have served well in the beginning, an increase in shipments can quickly inflate operating costs and heighten your chances of compliance and customs issues.
The good news is there are steps ecommerce companies can take to increase supply chain optimization in ways that support their growth plans. Here are three primary strategies for improving supply chain optimization:
Ocean freight consolidation
By leveraging the capabilities of a logistics provider companies are able to receive consolidated shipments to the U.S., rather than individual shipments from each overseas vendor. This reduces the number of shipments required and allows the company to maintain control and approval over bookings. Consolidation produces more reliable space allocation, consistent pricing from month to month and more predictability in the supply chain.
Improved supply chain visibility
Though consolidated shipments boost efficiency, they also require a great deal of coordination. Maintaining visibility through this process is critical for companies hoping to service customer inquiries regarding the status of shipments.
In today’s markets, consumers often expect the ability to track their goods, and it is important to not lose sight of this when streamlining your supply chain. By utilizing a transportation management system, you can gain global visibility into your shipments any time, and resolve issues based on real-time data.
Compliance with warehouse requirements
It is not uncommon for warehouses to have strict requirements for delivery appointments. With consolidated shipments and reliable sailing schedules, a company can navigate these requirements with far greater ease. It can also be beneficial to identify a core group of drayage providers who understand the business well and can request a delivery window directly from the warehouse. These relationships save valuable time for your employees in the long run.
Whether you manage freight on your own or collaborate with an experienced 3PL, there are ways you can make strategic supply chain decisions that cut freight costs and reduce transit time. This increased speed to market helps meet customer demands and timelines, despite the short lead times typical in online sales. Through supply chain optimization, ecommerce companies have the opportunity to reach the next stage of growth.
Michael Khalil is a senior sales executive, global forwarding for C.H. Robinson