Supply Chain Visibility and eCommerce

The B2B organization is moving at a rapid pace adopting eCommerce solutions.  The estimate is its moved 5-7 years ahead of the expected pace during the COVID period.  What is commerce without the supply chain? A website is all it can be without accurate inventory to order against.  The Supply disruption and complications right now are myriad.  Why would this article be about supply chain visibility and eCommerce?

The typical purchasing department does long term forecasts based on contracts and an expected demand cycle.  The modifications are small; however, this changed in the last decades as lean manufacturing, supplier held inventory, localized warehouses and then… the Amazon effect.

Ordering quantities became smaller, shipping requirements became stricter and costs had to be contained.  This has led to a surge in orders post Covid without the supply and transport needed to deliver it.  As we work through these problems the ordering variability is more complex.

Order quantities are more variable and unpredictable.  Suppliers and distributors see costs rising, bullwhip effects to outages.  As warehouses are closer to customers and transportation attempts to catch up there is one area giving insight to order velocity and customer demand.

eCommerce sites provide a view into the ordering patterns, changes in demand and the velocity of products and categories.  Successful distribution is using signals from partners and customers to cope with the inventory demands we face today. This means they have an edge.

  1. Signals can indicate changes in buying trends as much as one month to two months ahead for complex orders and products.
  2. Variability in categories and products are better examined with commerce data than inventory data. It is the most current in the organization.
  3. Analysis can utilize this data to pull out unexpected customer behavior changes that sales people don’t see until months later.
  4. Analysis will also show one time purchases better than ongoing purchases by steady customers. eCommerce data is unique in that the customer data is easy to combine with orders versus an aggregate inventory number.
  5. Product velocity is better attributable with this data as well.

The data opportunity of combining the most up to date, customer centric, contract matched, and historical trends in one data set shouldn’t be overlooked.  Combining these variables provides a much more reliable and accurate picture of your supply needs and actual order requirements.  Using this data creates a smarter view of your entire business.

About:  Robert Neumann is the Chief Digital Officer of CSS Commerce.  He architects business solutions for B2B customers using a unique process called “solutioneering.” This process brings business, IT and customer insight together across the entire value chain of a business, not an isolated discussion.  You can reach him at rob@csscommerce.com

CSS Commerce focuses on Commerce, Search and Supply.  From suppliers to Channels we focus on commerce and product search solutions providing better visibility across the supply chain and better sales to your customers.