Managing Inventory and E-Commerce Fulfillment During COVID-19

COVID-19 has dictated current business discussions and exposed flexibility as a vital source of resiliency for global supply chains. A long-term supply chain upheaval will be necessary for businesses to thrive given recent federal reserve indicators that economic uncertainty will continue for the foreseeable future. According to the Institute for Supply Management, 75% of surveyed companies reported supply-chain disruptions due to travel restrictions and reduced operating capacity of manufacturers. Shippers can use COVID-19 as an impetus to update archaic supply-chain practices and transition to a responsive and integrated national warehouse infrastructure.

Robust warehouse management software gives managers the ability to rapidly react to market uncertainty and adapt their warehouses to new inventory needs. Our overall goal is to provide businesses with inventory flexibility, scalable eCommerce fulfillment, and integrated data transparency. All of these tools are vital in surviving crisis, while developing resiliency for future black swan events.

Flexible Inventory Management

Time is in short supply during a crisis, but the importance of each individual decision increases dramatically. Flexible inventory management gives businesses a margin of error when determining how to respond to a situation. Static supply chains that rely on large distribution centers require long distances between target destinations, which increases costs and leaves long time gaps in the supply chain. Just-in-time (JIT) supply chains will no longer suffice as proven by massive shortages that plagued stores in early April.

A decentralized network of warehouses gives businesses the ability to rapidly modify supply patterns by decreasing shipment distances and strategically storing inventory in optimal locations in the event of a major disruption. The ability to build a just-in-case (JIC) supply structure that prioritizes risk management ensures businesses can survive in a worst-case scenario.

Independently, our solution can eliminate the overhead cost and liability associated with owning a warehouse. Businesses will not have to worry about having excess storage capacity in the event of a major crisis. Resources that were previously sunk into staff, infrastructure, and management could be deployed into product development, storefront expansion, or wherever money is needed. Cash is a valuable tool for disaster resiliency and allows managers to be adaptive in their response to the needs of their company. 

eCommerce Fulfillment

Right now, consumers are at home and willing to spend. According to ACI Worldwide, online transaction volumes increased 74% in March and will continue to grow even when the pandemic ends. Amazon Prime has given consumers an expectation that two-day shipping is the industry standard even in times of crisis. However, unlike Amazon, most businesses do not have a sprawling network of fulfillment centers and warehouses that can rapidly move products nationwide.

Data Management

Organized data management is crucial to constructing and organizing a planned response to unforeseen situations. Modern shippers need a suite of tools to manage inventory and distribution in real-time. Exact knowledge about where supply is needed can give businesses a sense of security even when future business prospects are uncertain.

Want to learn more about setting your supply chain up for future success? Read our latest blog on increasing your bottom line with strategic warehouse placement.

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