The idea of an "Internet of Things" is a concept infused with a lot of excitement in the consumer wearables and home environment, but what does it mean for your business as you work toward omnichannel distribution? Business thrives with structure, and the natural disruption that smart data brings to the party seems incompatible at a glance. Properly leveraged, however, these connected devices and tools are poised to utterly redefine the way we map a route to success—elevating competitiveness beyond the wildest dreams of any supply chain or operations leader only 20 years ago and smoothing the transition into omnichannel fulfillment.
At first blush, it may not seem like the seedy underbelly of technology and your supply chain have much in common—but they do. You run a legitimate business through legal means, of course, but that doesn't mean you can't learn supply chain risk mitigation tips from those that walk the other side of the legal line. By examining the "holes in the armor," so to speak, of big name piracy perpetrators like Napster and victims like the movie industry, you'll undoubtedly see correlations to your own risk scenarios—solutions for preventing them.
In the last decade, social media has evolved from virtual non-existence— who outside a handful of teens and young adults really used early prototypes like Myspace— into an intergenerational necessity for sharing music, songs, pictures and catching up on the latest news. While social media networks have had a visible impact on how we manage our personal lives, these tools seem to be unfairly relegated to the realm of marketing in the business sphere.
An omni-channel approach to sales is fast becoming one of the most efficient paths to increasing market share in a modern retail or wholesale landscape. However, as the "links" of different sales modalities stretch and bend to accommodate new traffic, gaps can open that expose sensitive data to hackers and rivals. With the inexorable march forward of omni-channel resting on one side and the threat of security breaches resting on the other, businesses need guidance for smooth navigation.
The desires of the consumer so often act as the fuel that drives the machine business innovation— low-waste, high-speed solutions for getting products from point A to point B have literally expanded beyond direct human control in an endless quest for perfection. And fulfillment is the catalyst that's inspiring logistics professionals to bolster their supply chain technology.
The progression has been nothing less than fascinating to watch.
The future is here.
The hottest buzzwords in the shipping industry are a ripped straight out of sci-fi. Everyone is talking about drones and drone deliveries, from local newscasters all the way up to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.
Drone deliveries are supposed to be the wave of the future. Most people can already see it in their mind's eye. They can see themselves as George Jetson, relaxing in their space-age recliners while spidery little flying machines circle overhead, delivering everything from groceries to prescription refills to the latest model of the iPhone.
If your company hasn't recently experienced security issues or isn't facing any obvious risks in the immediate future, supply chain risk mitigation probably isn't high on the corporate to-do list. Putting data security on the back burner in favor of more pressing operational issues may seem like a good idea— until disaster strikes.
Are you prepared to weather an unexpected data-compromising storm?
In the third-party logistics industry, there's no doubt that the deployment of state-of-the-art information technology can be a factor in a firm's ability to deliver excellent service. But is it the main factor?
Outside of your products and store (both brick-and-mortar and online), who acts as the face of your brand for most consumers? Believe it or not, it tends to be your fulfillment team. They fill orders, field questions about shipments, and make sure that your products get where they need to be on schedule. While it’s important that the right order gets to the right doorstep at the right time, consumers in the digital age have come to expect a brand experience that goes above and beyond order fulfillment.
So just how do you get the word out about your new e-commerce website? You can just assume that because your brick-and-mortar business is successful, your virtual store will automatically be as well. You can't just throw up any old website with e-commerce capabilities and expect that surfers will stumble upon it— not if you want to be successful, anyway.
Omnichannel. The name alone sounds new and exciting. Even futuristic. In the order-fill end of a business, as with everything else, the new is often associated with cutting-edge developments— just the kind of tools you need to propel your company's success and growth. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. New doesn’t always mean better.
One of the tenets of design is the mantra, "form follows function." This is certainly also true in the third-party fulfillment (3PF) industry, especially when it comes to developing solutions for e-commerce.
You've done your market research. You've indentified your niche. You've even tested the market. Now you're ready to take that next step and develop an e-commerce site. So what features should a good web store front have?
Competition within the world of ecommerce is fierce, and more brands enter the market every day. With such a large number of contenders vying for consumers' attention, setting your company apart from the rest is essential for long-term success. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through improved ecommerce fulfillment services.
With increasing demand straining the quality of customer service for internet retail, businesses that operate ecommerce sites might want to consider strategies to improve uniqueness and visibility online.
A shoppable web presence is often lauded as a 'saving grace' for companies that are just beginning to stretch their proverbial legs into the digital future from the analog past. E-Procurement, a key facet of that transition, is not only the driving force behind such a move, but it can end up feeling like the biggest obstacle to it as well.
Supply and demand, as expressed in fulfillment and distribution, has been a fairly trustworthy constant since the industrial age. The prevailing process is the manufacture of a large amount of products at a central location, which in turn are shipped to stores or end consumers. Technology, however, has introduced a disruptive newcomer to this business model— one that is shaking up everything we know about the product fulfillment process: 3D printing.
Amazon, the kingpin of online shopping, has taken their support service to the next level with Mayday. As one of the largest fulfillment and distribution operations in the US, Amazon’s success with the new features should get you thinking about how you can better leverage technology within your organization— from customer service to fulfillment.
At a single touch, Amazon’s video-enhanced support feature has revolutionized how end customers experience service and technical support online. Clearly a winner in terms of help desk offerings, similar features have already been adopted by other companies. Salesforce, for example, now offers a mobile app with a new Service Cloud SOS feature.
One of the biggest problems facing sales and distributions teams in 3PLs today is a lack of proper communication between the two teams about the customers that they are both attempting to serve. This is especially true at medium and large sized companies that have departments which are staffed by dozens (if not hundreds) of employees.
With cost and time effective logistics solutions so integral to supply chain success, an increasing number of business have begun turning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) outsourcing.