Why IT and Supply Chain departments go hand-in-hand when decreasing shipping costs and improving the customer experience.
Every year, it becomes clearer just how important supply chain roles are to the success of an e-retail business – and for good reason. Without supply chain professionals, what department would be ensuring e-commerce orders get to customers in a timely fashion and without error? This includes managing inventory, dealing with cost analysis, shipping and more. That said, supply chain roles are expanding even beyond managing costs and getting orders out the door quickly. This department now needs to consider customer satisfaction and recurring revenue in addition to completing all traditional steps of the supply chain.
This is a difficult task, and their jobs rely on it. Not only are supply chain professionals ensuring there is product on the shelf to keep up with the increasing online orders, they are also thinking about how to deliver it. Delivery comes with its own set of issues, like carrier rate changes, compliance chargebacks, speed of shipping and holiday peak season. The list goes on and on, and it’s hard for this department to do it alone. Thankfully, there are enterprise technology resources available in order to ease the stress of maintaining a robust supply chain while creating an exceptional customer experience.
Supply chain professionals turn to numerous technologies that allow them to manage inventory, ship orders and measure customer satisfaction. While this data showcases each step of order fulfillment, there isn’t a single system that connects it all. This is where technology leaders come in.
The technology or IT department is the backbone of the supply chain. Without systems in place to guide the supply chain forward, it would flounder. IT ensures all technology platforms are integrated for a seamless process, while reducing mistakes that could lose customers due to poor customer experiences. This team also double and triple checks that the systems are scalable in order to handle peak shipping times (both known, such as during the holidays, and during unforeseen circumstances, such as COVID-19), as this is really when customer satisfaction means everything.
Together, supply chain professionals and the IT department create a foolproof order fulfillment process that prioritizes the customer experience. Utilizing a variety of technologies, the supply chain and IT departments partner together to make sure they run smoothly. This can be a tough feat, as there are a variety of different technologies used within the supply chain.
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): This database supports warehouse operations as it relates to individual SKUs, warehouse storage locations and dock doors. It also estimates the expected labor productivity rates by function or activity. With the technology team’s help in installing this system and ensuring its reliability, supply chain professionals can plan for processing orders, including picking and staffing.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): These systems manage the main business processes in real-time. This is especially important for the supply chain department as ERPs track cash, raw materials and production capacity, as well as the status of orders and purchase orders.
- Order Management System (OMS): This software keeps track of every order shippers receive and ensures it is processed correctly.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM): With the customer experience now part of the supply chain department’s role, understanding customers’ expectations on delivery is vital. Using CRM software, supply chain professionals can review data on customers’ history to improve customer satisfaction. This can showcase the business’ unique customer preferences so you can better meet their demands when it comes to delivery.
- Multi-Carrier Shipping Software: These systems all work well separately, but there is one core software that can seamlessly integrate into all of them to greatly improve the customer experience and decrease shipping costs – shipping software. Supply chain professionals know how important it is to find the right shipping tool that can identify the closest inventory source to the customer and find the best shipping method amongst hundreds of carriers and services. The tool must also offer complete compliancy by printing accurate carrier-compliant shipping labels in seconds in order to meet the customer’s desired delivery date.
The IT department is a big fan of this solution, too. This core system integrates with all other technology and is scalable so it can adapt as the business grows or retail trends change. By integrating all solutions, it also makes it easier to meet customer demands and increase the customer experience. [Why we chose shipping software vs. TMS solutions]
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to e-retail. Supply chain leaders especially have a lot on their plate. Thankfully, the technology department is the warehouse partner you never knew you needed. With the IT team implementing the multiple systems required for order fulfillment success and ensuring there is little to no downtime (even during a crisis), supply chain professionals’ lives just got a little easier. Having the right supply chain leaders and IT team in place, along with the most innovative solutions, makes success just one satisfied customer away.
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