As shopping continues to shift to online channels, brands can no longer rely on in-store experiences and activations to shape the customer experience. In e-commerce, the customer experience is the delivery experience, and brands need to ensure they get it right to maintain consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
World-class supply chains accompany world-class brands, and smart supply chain planning can boost any brand’s e-commerce experience. This guide will define supply chain planning, and share tips and tricks for building an e-commerce-optimized supply chain for your brand.
What is supply chain planning?
Supply chain planning is the forward-looking process of coordinating and optimizing the journey of a product from manufacturing to consumer delivery. A brand must balance supply, demand, production, distribution, operations, and sales for optimal supply chain planning, and should consider the end consumer experience at every step.
Identify supply chain goals and key results
The first step in successful supply chain planning is to consider your brand’s business model, as well as that of your competitors. Identify key goals and the results you wish to achieve.
With the e-commerce experience in mind, general supply chain planning goals may include:
- Maintain on-time delivery performance
- Ensure inventory availability to eliminate stockouts
- Reduce time to source product/material
- Manage working capital requirements and inventory targets
- Minimize total logistics cost as percentage of sale
Outline supply chain strategies
Every item you sell, at every phase of its life cycle, should be accounted for while planning a supply chain. Smart e-commerce supply chain strategies include:
- Supply management – Supply management involves sourcing and procuring trusted sources of raw materials, technology, and/or other components that are involved in the production of your product.
- Demand planning and management – Demand forecasting enables you to more accurately predict and stock inventory to meet customer demands as needed, without the need to store surplus products.
- Production management – Production management, or capacity planning, is when you address production in terms of machinery, staff, and efficiency. The key question here is, “How much can we produce during a set period?”
- Inventory management – Inventory management involves calibrating inventory levels with supply chain partners, and keeping stock on hand at optimal levels – not too much, not too little.
- Crisis management – Plan ahead in case of emergencies. Crisis management in supply chain means identifying all possible supply chain bottlenecks, breakdowns, and delays, at every step of the supply chain process, and developing contingency plans to stay in business should you lose a supplier.
- Integrated business planning – Integrated business planning is the process of linking supply chain planning with the other aspects of a business, including sales, operations, and finance. Because this strategy involves information from across the enterprise, it also enables brands companies
Create a tactical supply chain plan
Combine all the planning steps above to determine how you will execute to achieve supply chain goals and strategies. This will involve departmental leaders from across the company who need to agree on short and long term tactics and expectations.
Flowspace – your supply chain planning partner
The disparate steps in supply chain planning can be made more powerful by working with Flowspace. Flowspace is your supply chain and fulfillment partner that handles the entire fulfillment process after a consumer clicks buy.
With a flexible, distributed network of fulfillment centers, the Flowspace platform makes it easy for businesses to enable fast, affordable fulfillment, from anywhere to anyone.