Maintain a Competitive Edge in an Amazon World

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Top Insights from Our Amazon Webinar: Maintain a Competitive Edge in an Amazon World

Started in 1994 as an online book retailer with big ambitions, Amazon is now one of the largest retailers in the world and has become a model for customer experience, free shipping, and on-time delivery. Consider that Amazon is now worth almost double of Wal-Mart’s market value, and you begin to understand the power the Amazon supply chain has on global commerce, not just e-commerce.
One of the most noteworthy and lasting influences that the Amazon supply chain has made on retailers is its free and fast shipping model. Consumers are ordering products online at increasingly high records and transportation experts have deemed this demand as “The Amazon Effect”. In other words, online retailers need to match their transportation strategy to Amazon to compete.
MercuryGate Chief Marketing Officer, Karen Sage, joined President & CEO of Transportation Intermediaries Association, Bob Voltman, explore “The Amazon Effect” and offer actionable ways in which companies can compete with the Amazon supply chain using new technology.
Creating a consumer-centric supply chain remains a challenge for online retailers
Consumers want faster and shippers are doing more to keep up with the demand. The model for a positive customer experience extends past the quality of the product and customer service to now include the desire for expedited, free shipping from any location
It is predicted that by 2020, customer experience will be more important than price, product or brand choice as a differentiator in purchasing decisions.
Supply Chain Moves to Front of Customer Value Proposition
An annual study conducted by Martec International titled, The 2017 State of Retail Supply Chain Report highlighted the current challenges that shippers are facing when it comes to bringing the supply chain to the front of the customer value discussion. The data summation indicated that many of the 218 retailers surveyed “aren’t clear on how to make the supply chain more consumer-centric. That’s partly because the concept of the consumer experience is still new to retail supply chains.”
Bob echoes the survey by encouraging retailers to take part in the transition rather than fight it in stating, “the world has changed and there is no going back.”
Technology Creates Competitive Advantage for Retailers
As Karen states, “There are certainly technology innovations to be had in the supply chain. There is a tremendous amount of useful technology here today that is not being leveraged.”
When it comes to harnessing the power of technology, it’s crucial to utilize readily available tools that can make a long-term business impact. A transportation management system (TMS) offers a viable way to seamlessly boost your supply chain strategy. Moreover, only 35% of shippers are using TMS as part of their overall supply chain management strategies.
Retailers who have integrated a TMS into their are reaping the benefits today, including more
automation, real-time data, better visibility and efficient inventory management.
Retailers need to shift their focus onto inventory management
One of the most interesting ways in which Amazon stays competitive is through their top-tier inventory management practices.
According to Bob, “One of the fastest growing aspects of the supply chain is warehousing. You are seeing warehouses pop up across the country as companies begin to look at regional or even local distribution models since Amazon is requiring local pickups.”
Speed-to-market plays a critical role in a successful supply chain strategy. To shorten fulfillment times, retailers must expand and increase their distribution centers to bring them closer
to the customer.
The TMS is designed to challenge the “The Amazon Effect”
“From scheduling warehouse workers to optimizing routes, the right TMS can give one platform that all employees can work from,” said Karen Sage.
“In doing so, strength is added to inter-department management and your co-workers are equipped to rapidly identify problems, move through processes faster and mitigate risk from decision making while adding increased visibility to the supply chain in its entirety.”

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