Too Many SKUs? Addressing Inventory Issues With Ecommerce...
By Tom Wintaugh
Learn how ecommerce automation technology can help your business thrive despite the ongoing labor shortage and supply chain issues.
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Ecommerce activity has skyrocketed in the past few years.
But with this growth comes a set of challenges for merchants across every industry. We live in an ever-changing commercial market where flexibility and resilience in your operations is essential to long-term growth. One way online sellers can guard their businesses against modern disruptions, such as an ongoing labor shortage and supply chain disruption, is by taking advantage of the advanced automation capabilities ecommerce has to offer.
In this article, we talk about the benefits of investing in ecommerce automation and how it can help your business run like a well-oiled machine.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for many major changes in ecommerce. One of the most notable of these is the ongoing labor shortage. As businesses reopened their doors to the public following months of lockdowns, they struggled to find and retain new talent. The labor shortage has had the heaviest impact on the service and retail sectors—many employees questioned whether the low wages and lackluster benefits often associated with customer service positions were worth returning to even as the pandemic slowed—but has rippled throughout other industries as well. A preference for remote work and reluctance to return to the office, coupled with the millions of Americans who took the opportunity to retire early, has significantly decreased the number of workers available for recruitment, especially for in-person positions.
COVID-19 has also had a major impact on the supply chain. Illnesses and port delays have caused significant slowdowns, making it more difficult for sellers to maintain predictable inventory levels, fulfill products to customers, and keep shipping costs down.
These changes in supply chain speed and working preferences have combined to make this a volatile time for many online merchants.
To mitigate these labor shortage and supply chain challenges, your business needs to be able to expand your resources and increase productivity. As you handle more traffic, demand, and sales, your ecommerce platform should equip you with the tools you need to streamline your process and operations.
One way to transform your business is through automation. Ecommerce automation is all about building repeatable processes that can cut down time-consuming work and expand your business’ capabilities. Creating flexible systems can help you automate all aspects of your fulfillment, from the time a purchaser hits the “place order” button to the shipment and delivery of their order.
Although ecommerce is better suited than other industries to adapt to modern workforce concerns, it’s impossible for any business to completely avoid the fallout of the labor shortage. Luckily, ecommerce businesses have access to powerful automation technologies that can boost efficiency and productivity while empowering teams to thrive.
The reality is that we live in an age where many jobs that used to be performed by humans can be performed by software instead. By investing in these automated solutions, you can avoid the struggle of finding and retaining talent during the ongoing labor shortage.
Though some may fear that increased automation will lead to job losses, well-executed ecommerce automation will support, not replace, your existing team. By automating tedious and repetitive processes, you can return valuable time to your employees that they can use on more complex and rewarding tasks.
Here are just a few examples of how ecommerce automation can support your business and your team:
Manual order input can often drain your team’s resources and hinder their workflow. It is time-consuming for sales reps to build out an order, provide quotes, and enter data into a CRM—especially in B2B ecommerce.
Because it takes time, manual processes can create a delay between when your business receives the order and when it gets placed in your system for fulfillment. In an age of ecommerce when customers expect to receive their orders quickly, these delays could impact the customer experience and hurt your chances of building customer loyalty.
Automating your fulfillment process helps improve accuracy, monitor stock and demand, and remove any bottlenecks. With these ecommerce automations, a customer’s order can be automatically pushed into your back-office systems for fulfillment, keeping you fully aware of your inventory at all the times.
Integrating your ecommerce platform with a warehouse management system (WMS) can also help mitigate customer complaints caused by supply chain issues by keeping your website’s inventory up to date. These integrations automatically mark products on your website as being out of stock as soon as there are none left in the warehouse, and mark them as available again once they’ve been restocked.
Modern disruptions like the labor shortage and supply chain issues have caused problems for all industries, and ecommerce is no exception. But with ecommerce automation, you can increase productivity, accelerate operations, and strengthen the capabilities of your workforce. This allows you to improve your quality of service, expand your business operations and intelligence, and build a more self-sustaining future for your business.
As your business scales, your processes will become demanding, and you may need to shore up your systems to handle more complexity. You may even outgrow your platform and find yourself looking for new tools. This is a clear sign that you need to embrace smarter, more future-proof technology. Looking to migrate to a new platform? Check out our free whitepaper.
This blog was originally published on February 2, 2022 and updated on June 8, 2022.
Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.
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