Whether you’re launching a new e-commerce business or augmenting your retail shipping with a new online direct-to-consumer store, the possibilities to succeed are almost limitless – especially with the right backend solution in place.
There are multiple elements to launching your e-commerce store: products, marketing, web development, and much more. However, another important facet of a smooth-running e-commerce site is supply chain management, something many digital store owners overlook when first planning their new business.
Once you launch and start to become successful, supply chain elements such as warehousing, logistics, and customs (if shipping across the border) will quickly become your biggest cost and worst headache – especially if your supply chain is not managed properly. Without an established network of reliable suppliers, along with the experience in coordinating them, your customers will wind up paying the cost in higher delivery fees and a less than optimal service experience.
This can all be avoided with a managed 4PL solution that will keep your products moving, satisfy your customers, and increase your profit margin.
Shipping To Retail vs. Direct-To-Consumer
Many companies that have traditionally shipped to retail outlets are only now making their products available direct-to-consumer via their website. Their retail supply chain solution may be working soundly, but their e-commerce business needs a separate supply chain model.
This is because direct-to-consumer shipping involves a set of unique dynamics, such as more deliveries to varied locations, smaller order sizes, different packaging, and shorter product lifecycles. E-commerce warehousing must be kept separate from retail warehousing to accommodate the different storage, picking, packing, and shipping processes involved.
It’s almost like having to learn all over again. Fortunately, with a 4PL supply chain solution, you won’t have to.
Read More: What Is 4PL?
Why You Should Consider A 4PL Supply Chain Solution For Your E-Store
Supply chain optimization involves more than setting up the system and letting it run. It requires ongoing management, monitoring, and improvement to ensure its long-term success. It also needs to be responsive in the face of system interruption – which will invariably happen at some point.
When you partner with a 4PL provider, you get a team of logistics professionals dedicated to helping you beyond short-term transactions with solutions that take your business into the future. That’s because 4PL puts your needs in the driver’s seat, making achieving your objectives the primary focus at a fraction of the cost of doing it all in-house.
Here are 5 reasons a 4PL partnership would help your e-business run smoothly with added profitability:
- Warehouse Management: The bulk of your e-commerce business will be single-item orders and shipping. Without a proper warehousing system, you might not be efficiently allocating space, which can harm multiple processes including receiving, product storage, picking and packing, and inventory tracking. 4PL providers can design a complete warehousing and inventory management solution using technology that allows you to control and oversee warehouse operations from as soon as your products are received until they are shipped, along with robust reporting that provides insights into possible areas of improvement.
- Supply Chain Technology: Opening an e-commerce business requires technology tools that ensure that your supply chain operates with utmost efficiency from purchase right through to the final delivery. Your e-store could have thousands of customers all buying at the same time, so your technology needs to be ready to handle the workload without crashing. 4PL suppliers already have customized supply chain software in place, saving you the expense of purchasing your own. They can also customize it to your specific needs, and scale it seamlessly during your slow or peak periods.
- Fast Access To Other Carriers: Whether there’s a service interruption due to operational issues with your carrier, or if your demand is higher than expected at any given point, you’ll need additional support from another carrier to ensure your products keep moving. Instead of picking up the phone to dial other carriers, your 4PL supplier will already have reputable, pre-screened carriers ready to step in and help out.
- Reverse Logistics: Just like in brick-and-mortar locations, e-commerce stores get returns. Managing reverse logistics can be difficult, but a 4PL solution will ensure your goods are tracked and returned to your facilities for disposal or redistribution.
- Ongoing Process Review: When you first start in e-commerce, you might discover signs that indicate something is wrong, but not be sure exactly what it is. 4PL helps you interpret data that improves supply chain visibility, allowing you to better mitigate risks, optimize processes, and develop tactical strategies. Without robust reporting and KPI tools to help you better understand your supply chain, you could be limiting business growth potential.
Fully-Managed Supply Chains Make Running Your Business Easier
Most companies who open online stores are experts in their products but may not be in the complex intricacies of the North American supply chain. Relying on an experienced 4PL supplier to manage your e-store supply chain will ensure your products get to your customers smoothly and efficiently during “normal” times, and effortlessly pivot your system in the event of service interruptions. This is why 4PL is a crucial part of running an e-commerce business optimized for sustainable success.
If you’re interested in learning how Cedric Millar can significantly transform your current supply chain into a more sustainable, flexible model, we’d love to chat with you. Just contact us at 1-888-998-1009 or via email at email@example.com anytime for a no-obligation discussion.