It’s that time of the year again! Amazon Prime Day, often referred to as “Christmas in July,” is here, but vendors and third-party resellers have been gearing up for this two-day shopping frenzy months in advance. With more than 100 million products expected to be shipped around the globe, businesses have a unique opportunity to capitalize on Amazon’s momentum.
Scaling for Peak Demands
With this opportunity, however, comes the challenge to keep pace with an evolving industry and new peak-demand periods. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a volatile retail cycle pose challenges for those that continue to depend on old processes. While peak periods were traditionally expected and prepared for around Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday; sales events such as Amazon Prime Day have challenged this consistent cycle, throwing some businesses off-guard. From a logistics perspective, the peak-demand periods are continuing to shift, and organizations are not always coping well with the requirement for a constant level of scalability.
In addition to the challenge posed by peak demands, businesses are also struggling to meet consumer expectations, which are at an all-time high. Due to Amazon raising the standards for customers to not only receive their goods in an expedited timeframe, but to do so with little-to-no shipping cost, businesses must incorporate next-level tools to enable supply chain leaders to work smarter and more efficiently.
Adapting to Stay Relevant
In an adapt-or-die industry, organizations can no longer rely on outdated processes, or plan for peak periods in the same way. With competing market forces continuously driving these unpredictable retail cycles, supply chain leaders must adopt streamlined solutions to gain efficiency, and ultimately survive. Here are three to consider:
Visibility – In order to keep up with competition and meet rising consumer expectations, visibility from the first mile to the last is a must. The typical supply chain consists of a number of partners with different service providers, making this a challenge. For instance, visibility is usually maintained until an order moves across the supply chain and transfers to a third party, at which point it can start to break down. Partner connectivity is important to gaining more coordination and control over visibility, and provides a greater ability to respond swiftly to customer issues and opportunities. In addition, multi-party supply chain visibility tools can help improve the process, creating a better customer experience and competitive edge. Technology that enables automated delivery confirmations and delivery tracking for example, is essential to business success when peaks in demand occur.
Flexibility – In addition to visibility, a flexible supply chain solution helps shippers and carriers more easily adapt to changes and peak-demand periods. Managing all modes of transportation and parcel shipping from the same platform, which can also handle compliance, for example, provides more flexibility to accommodate expedited delivery timeframes or international shipments with greater ease and speed. With technology to automate previously manual, disconnected processes, businesses can handle increases or spikes in volume seamlessly, with lower error rates, faster shipping times, better visibility, and lower cost. These benefits add up to improved customer loyalty and reduced cost to serve. Being part of a large network further increases flexibility by providing easier, faster access to capacity and other services.
Optimization – A “good enough” mindset no longer suffices as competition ramps up across the supply chain, particularly during peak periods like Amazon Prime Day. Processes must be reviewed and refined on a consistent basis for seamless delivery. Data is the foundation. From optimizing supply chain networks, to processes and workflows, to setting predetermined criteria for shipment optimization, to shipping lanes and routing, there are numerous opportunities to save time and money throughout the supply chain. Companies that invest in technology and continuous improvement efforts to optimize their supply chain operations stand to reap significant time and cost savings benefits in addition to better serving their customers.
The Bottom Line
Peak-demand periods such as Amazon’s Prime Day are an incredible opportunity to increase sales and improve customer relationships. However, without the right tools, businesses can find themselves potentially doing more harm than good, and falling behind the competition. With a growing number of events akin to Prime Day expected to challenge retail cycles further, now is the time to plan ahead and gain efficiency across your supply chain.