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4 critical areas where technology enhances supply chain

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Four critical areas where D2C and omnichannel brands can use technology to drive efficiency and customer delight

New Delhi: The supply chain serves as the backbone of every D2C and omnichannel business. Ensuring an efficient supply chain comes with a host of challenges.

These challenges can be overcome with the help of different tech-enabled tools, approaches and experiences that facilitate a seamless flow.

“Brands today need to have a different kind of mindset in terms of operations and technology enablement,” said Jagadesh HR, Associate Partner, Acuver Consulting, a Bengaluru-based IT consulting and services company that helps in enhancing efficiency in the supply chain.

Brands like Croma, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Landmark Group, Charles & Keith, DMart, IBM, Godrej Interio, Reliance, Envista, Titan, Hippo and ABFRL (Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail) all use technology to overcome challenges and serve their customers better by
implementing technology in their supply chains.

4 Critical Areas of Focus in Supply Chain

For D2C and omnichannel businesses to succeed, there needs to be the right amount of accountability in keeping up the promise that brands offer, knowing inventory positions and ensuring an enhanced omnichannel experience.

Here are four supply chain-related areas where technology can help businesses:

1. Delivery

Last-mile delivery is a major issue that most companies face. There are instances when products are not delivered at the right time, especially during festivals, and this leads to a bad customer experience.

Inaccurate delivery impacts the e-commerce conversion rate. Nearly 50% of shoppers cancel their cart due to a mismatch between their expectations about the delivery date and the actual delivery date, according to data from Acuver Consulting.

Intelligent sourcing and planning help in this area. Acuver Consulting reported that brands that worked with the company and used intelligent tools for sourcing and planning, achieved 50% higher customer conversion in 2022 than in 2021. The brands also clocked an 8% increase in sales, as per Acuver.

2. Inventory

Inventory is a function of location, date, quality and time, said Jagadesh HR. And end-to-end inventory visibility is critical today to ensure a competitive edge. According to Acuver, brands today know about the status of stocks in the warehouses, and offline stores, but what they lack is an understanding of the goods that are in quality check, transit and return among other details.

Getting these details is where most companies struggle. Experts suggest that this can be achieved through API (application programming interface) based integration, which ensures the highest inventory productivity and maximum customer demand fulfilment.

Brands can achieve an increase in orders processed per day and can enable a single pool of inventory with an increase in click-and-collect orders through real-time store inventory visibility.

3. Marketplace integration

Marketplaces are an important digital channel for today’s businesses. The faster a D2C brand gets on a marketplace, the sooner it can expand its reach. AI/AR-based pre-built adapters and software solutions can help brands work on faster marketplace integration with a consistent workflow for forwards and returns.

Furthermore, real-time analytics and reporting that these tools/solutions provide help brands tweak their offerings and marketplace strategy to sell better.

4. Omnichannel experience

Describing the ultimate omnichannel experience, Jagadesh of Acuver said that true omnichannel is when a customer visits a store, and the store manager asks him/her about the products s/he has added to the cart on the brand’s website.

“Brands should not just receive customers and say, Sir, how can I help you now? Rather, it should be enabled more from a technology perspective,” added Jagadesh.

Although not all businesses can achieve this level of sophistication, other features like buying anywhere, returning anywhere, selling anywhere and fulfilling anywhere are some of the omnichannel experiences technology enables.

Based on the Images D2C Awards & Summits held in Mumbai in June 2023

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