10 Tips for Boosting Ecommerce Efficiency
There are endless opportunities for smart businesses to capitalize on the growing ecommerce trend. Processing high volumes of small parcels, however, requires flawless operations at every step of the supply chain to ensure maximum profitability.
1. Integrate Supply Chain and Ecommerce Systems. Invest in platforms that connect your customer-facing systems with vendor partners’ warehouses, distribution centers, and transportation providers. An integrated approach provides visibility for all stakeholders and reduces errors related to manual intervention and data entry.
2. Optimize Warehouse Operations. Consider implementing solutions such as automated sorting and dimensioning, a mobile warehouse management system, conveyor systems, and robotic process automation to speed order fulfillment. A well-designed warehouse layout can also significantly reduce the time it takes to pick and pack orders.
3. Boost Customs Compliance Efficiency. For ecommerce imports into the United States, take advantage of Entry Type 86 or Section 321 to save time and money with faster clearance and minimal manual processing. Automated Border Interface (ABI) software from an experienced provider lets you mass-upload house bills from a simple spreadsheet to expedite the customs release of your packages.
4. Prioritize Real-Time Inventory Tracking. Use RFID tags, barcodes, and other tracking technologies to monitor inventory movement in real time—not just in the warehouse, but at every step of the product journey. This can help prevent stockouts, reduce overstock, improve coordination between agents, and ensure that inventory is replenished quickly.
5. Evaluate Inventory Management. Efficient inventory management is tantamount to ecommerce success. But inventory management techniques are not one-size-fits all. A strategy that works well in one company may not suit another, so it’s important to research and evaluate several options to find the best one—or a combination—for your specific business needs.
6. Implement Effective Returns Management. Don’t neglect the returns process when analyzing efficiency. A streamlined returns process can reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. Consider centralized return centers, third-party partners, and other techniques to reduce handling. Use analytics to understand return reasons, which can, in turn, inform positive product and process improvements that will reduce future returns.
7. Diversify Supplier Networks. Avoid relying too heavily on a single supplier, carrier, or partner. Building relationships with multiple partners ensures that your ecommerce supply chain remains robust even if one stakeholder faces issues.
8. Set Risk Management Plans. Regularly assess potential risks, such as geopolitical issues, supply chain weaknesses, natural disasters, or labor shortages and strikes. Put contingency plans into place to ensure minimal disruption to your supply chain in case of unforeseen events.
9. Train and Develop Your Staff. As technology and best practices evolve, ensure that your team receives regular training to keep current. A knowledgeable and skilled workforce can adapt to changes more rapidly and ensure the effective management of your logistics and supply chain processes.
10. Regularly Measure and Monitor Ecommerce KPIs. Continuous improvement requires constant measurement and evaluation of ecommerce KPIs (key performance indicators). Regularly review and analyze KPIs such as order turnaround time and accuracy, overstocks, stock-outs, and inventory turnover to proactively identify areas for improvement.