Commentary

Opinion: How to optimise supply in a new era of connected commerce

The transition from brick-and-mortar to digital is challenging, forcing organisations to rethink their supply chain strategies to facilitate sales on multiple channels. With this comes a shift in trading partner relationships, which requires brands and retailers to work more closely together to manage inventory and process orders effectively. Nick Manzo, Global Omni-Channel Lead, 1WorldSync explains how to rise to the challenge

To thrive in omnichannel commerce, many retailers are following Amazon’s lead by developing a distributed commerce strategy –– where retailers process every online order individually –– over the traditional bulk shipment model. This enables retailers to offer a broader range of inventory without the associated investment in inventory and carrying costs. Those that have navigated this shift successfully are well-positioned to capitalise on the exploding e-commerce market. Those that haven’t are closing storefronts.

Challenges posed by the distributed commerce model

Distributed commerce alters partnerships between brand and retailers, requiring daily transactions and an influx in data exchange to seamlessly move products and process orders. However, brands and retailers still operating on siloed legacy systems encounter numerous challenges when trying to adapt to a distributed commerce model:

  • Communicating consistent, trusted product content: Robust information across all channels is critical to maintain seamless interactions with consumers in a dropship strategy. However, many retailers use legacy commerce systems that are not equipped to handle the explosive volume of data that must be aggregated en masse from their supplier trading partners. The solution is a cloud-based system that empowers brands to compile and syndicate product attributes that enable consumers to make informed purchase decisions.
  • Processing high volumes of transactions: Traditionally, transactions between brands and retailers centered around bulk shipments, which typically involved a semi-annual order and fulfillment process of thousands of units at a time. Today, the e-commerce model has evolved into an individual transaction for each product sold, which is much too complex to be managed through manual processes. To combat this, organisations must integrate backend and supply chain systems to provide a holistic understanding of operations from order placed to order returned.
  • Collaborating with a growing list of suppliers: Without a synergistic partner network that enables an integrated supply chain, brands and retailers are perpetually stuck in unproductive commerce system configurations. The best way to bypass such issues is to invest in complementary partners that can optimise end-to-end content and transactional processes.

Next steps for brands and retailers

Trying to match the convenience of Amazon with trusted product content and personalised offerings is no easy feat. Businesses should look to partner with third-party providers that can work symbiotically to streamline solutions and connect all facets of the commerce chain in the cloud. The benefits of this strategy are significant for every participant involved.

Retailers and distributors that partner with product content and omnichannel integration experts to seamlessly aggregate product content from all trading partners will experience the following benefits:

  • Simplify transactional communication across all parts of a business involved (financing, invoicing, logistics, shipping, etc.), as well as with trading partners
  • Boost efficiency in all product data transactions, aggregate basic product content provided by brands and extend this information to provide a differentiated consumer experience
  • Increase customer satisfaction with robust, accurate and trustworthy product information that comes directly from the source

Brands should look to partner with a product content syndication network to easily share product information and navigate new merchandising responsibilities. In addition, brands should also consider partnering with an omnichannel integration provider to facilitate a high volume of transactions.  By coupling both services, brands can:

  • Control accurate and available content that drives product discovery and shopability across all commerce channels
  • Establish controlled interfaces and processes for servicing global omnichannel customers
  • Preserve brand integrity with improved transactional and product content relationships with both partners and consumers.
  • Standardise and disseminate product data and content to entire global trading communities, including mandatory compliance or regulatory expectations, regardless of geographic presence

A cloud-based product content syndication and B2B integration network that work in tandem will provide the end-to-end supply chain capabilities necessary to scale with the growing e-commerce landscape. While organisations will undoubtedly run into new challenges as omnichannel sales flourish, companies that invest in collaborative supply chain systems will be better prepared to master operational efficiency sales through new and unprecedented strategies.

Read Connected Commerce in the Cloud to learn more about how brands and retailers can develop the operational backbone that supports the evolution of e-commerce.

Image credit: JCT600