E-Commerce and the Need for Speed
In an earlier post,
we looked at how smaller businesses were using e-commerce to establish
brands, even premium ones, while getting closer to their customers.
Along with the benefits that e-commerce provides smaller concerns comes
new business requirements. Faster shipping is one of main ones.
In an article on searchmanufacturingerp.com, Brenda Cole discusses this development and one of the challenges:
While brick-and-mortar retailers have
struggled to bring in customers in recent years, e-commerce has steadily
grown and shows no sign of slowing down. Consumers, however, want more
than just the convenience of shopping in their pajamas. They expect
their purchases to arrive more quickly than ever, and e-commerce giants
like Amazon are obliging with more same-day shipping capabilities. Small
and midsize companies are feeling this trickle-down pressure to speed
up their shipping times, and many are turning to their business
application vendors in hopes of rising to the challenge.
Leslie Hand, research director for IDC Retail Insights,
an IT analyst organization based in Framingham, Mass., observes that
more manufacturers than ever are embracing e-commerce as a business
model. According to Hand, by partnering with e-commerce sites such as
Amazon, manufacturers can sell a broader range of products and deliver
them more quickly to a wider range of customers than they could reach on
their own. “In addition to finding the right software, small and
midsize manufacturers that really want to reach consumers directly and
quickly need to foster relationships with partners that can facilitate
unit-level picking, the process of taking products directly from
inventory to shipping,” notes Cole.
One of the benefits of speeding shipping times is
doing a better job of juggling multiple sales outlets and logistics
services. Cole cites a colorful example in her piece: Savvi,
a manufacturer of novelty temporary tattoos in Tucson, Ariz. Savvi has
been using Epicor's ERP system since June 2010, after 10 months of due
diligence exploring vendor options. "We have three distinct divisions,"
says Chris Huff, vice president of operations at Savvi. "One deals with
retailers like Walmart and Target. Another is a custom product,
make-to-order division. A third is our vending machine division." The
company also has a stock division, where an order can be shipped either
same day or next day, depending on what time of day the order is placed.
We've got hundreds of thousands of stock images that
you can pull up on our website," notes Huff. "You can place your order
and get a confirmation number as soon as it ships. We have the same
thing with our vending division, where orders that come in before 2:00
p.m. will be shipped same day."
The challenge for Savvi is multi-channel: it must
juggle a number of different sales models and outlets when distributing
its products, including e-commerce, major retailers, made-to-order
manufacturing, and inventory control. Its shipping models are also
varied, including overnighting products, shipping container loads
overseas, sending truckloads for domestic sales, and going through FedEx
According to Huff, Epicor ERP has helped simplify
operations and speed order fulfillment. "This has been great for putting
all our needs in one package," he says. "We were a mom-and-pop company
initially, with a home-grown system. We acquired two or three
competitors and at one time had five disparate systems running
simultaneously; you can image the chaos that ensues from that." Now that
the chaos has been put to order, orders are reaching customers when
they expect them—a requirement for anyone operating e-commerce.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team