Adding an ecommerce consumer offering to your trade business represents a unique and exciting opportunity for merchants.
However, it’s easy to be put off at first glance. Adding ecommerce can represent a heavy investment in your supply chain; dedicated facilities may be required and transitioning from trade to consumer offerings opens up an array of new challenges for your business and leaders.
Predictably, the evolution into ecomm markets is one of risk vs reward. But what if there was a way to test your assumptions, trial your operations, and vastly reduce your risk?
We can help assess where you are on the ecommerce roadmap, and guide you through taking your next steps with confidence.
The ecommerce tipping point
In your ecommerce journey, there are some steps that you can take which allow for initial entry into the market, by utilising your existing traditional stores network. This can be done without too much change to your overall fulfilment operations, and allows a valuable chance to test assumptions and gather useful customer feedback.
This approach can (and does) work for initial data gathering and confidence boosting, but eventually there comes a tipping point when fulfilling from a centralised warehouse or a network of hubs is the only way to ensure a high-quality customer experience at scale.
From a warehousing perspective, there are also advantages to be found in unifying your ecomm and merchant operations, helping to maintain consistent stock levels and reduce inefficiencies.
Fulfilment options and inventory management requires high visibility to support the successful transition into consumer offerings. For many merchants further on in this journey, ecommerce sales will have outgrown their existing ‘hub’ network and would benefit from a move to a centralised warehouse facility.
For B2B merchants moving into ecommerce, the ability to ‘see’ into existing operations and make far-reaching projections removes the uncertainty of adding cross-platform B2B/B2C services to their sales channels. Intelligent decisions relating to multiple locations or centralised services can be ascertained based upon suitability, and without creating delays or causing disruption.
In-depth data analysis can examine the strength of existing operations and make projections into the impact of changes. This provides an actionable roadmap for business progression.
By gaining visibility into qualitative and quantitative insights, we can better understand the interconnected parts of the supply chain. Examining areas such as:
- Cost to serve
- Resource planning
- Stock availability
- Network resilience
- Strategies for business growth
Getting the big picture
Using intelligent data as a basis for opening your first ecommerce warehouse gives a big-picture view that highlights the best views of future requirements (and therefore a roadmap of investments). Supporting efficient warehouse design, with streamlined automation, inventory storage, and product handling drives needed changes through the supply chain. Making improvements or adjustments that directly affect productivity and efficiency.
Working with a supply chain consultant can help business leaders to understand their warehouse and supply chain operations better. Cross-benefit analysis and scenario modelling drive performance-based solutions from concepts to reality, while remaining relevant to specific ecommerce needs. Being able to predict and adapt to customer requirements has a host of benefits, including high levels of satisfaction, and the ability to meet changing demands such as next-day or same-day delivery expectations.
With a clear vision that encompasses people and processes, new design ideas and opportunities can be uncovered that supports or improves a new ecommerce environment. Companies implementing new initiatives will benefit from shared data-based strategies to direct efforts toward successful ecomm market entry and connect selling channels in the most efficient ways.
Cost reduction and sustainable growth from value-added initiatives and customised recommendations uses business strengths, aligns them with future goals, and identifies opportunities over long- or short-term time frames to integrate desired objectives into the overall business plan.
Every business has different challenges, and we understand the intricacies of the merchant supply chain. Before embarking on your ecommerce journey, why not talk to the team at Trym.
About the authors
We are independent supply chain and warehouse consultants specialising in data analysis, leading strategy, and bringing a fresh perspective to your supply chain challenges.