What’s the secret to Amazon’s success? Some might answer, “They sell absolutely everything people want and need.” Others might add, “Their website is very user-friendly, and automatically recommends alternatives and similar products.” Both of those answers capture some of Amazon’s main strengths, but neither presents the full story for Amazon’s success.
Amazon’s mission is: “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” But that presents a major logistical challenge: how to efficiently expedite purchases to reach the buyers in a minimum amount of time? They have answered that question by establishing one of the world’s premium supply chain networks, driven by the integration of human and artificial intelligence.
The Challenge for Small Businesses
In order to compete, logistics, transportation, warehousing, and delivery must now be a critical part of the smaller retailers’ strategy. Modern consumers expect to buy whatever they want online and have the product speedily expedited to their door. Small businesses can compete with the Titans on a limited basis, with a restricted number of customers. But, it is very difficult to achieve this on a larger scale and grow their businesses.
Upgrading Supply Chain Management
The only way to compete in supply chain management is with smart automation. Retailers and distributors can use barcoding systems to mark incoming goods, which notify the system of the arrival of expected goods. They can also automatically update inventory for stock keeping records. After a sale, an automated system can mark an item for retrieval, by either humans or robots, and prepare the product for delivery. Then a delivery dispatch application can handle the final journey to the customer.
The Battle of the Titans
All this happens in a minimum amount of time, with minimal oversight and exceptional accuracy. As more and more people order goods online, supply chain management becomes even more essential. Amazon knows this, and they have taken the lead in opening distribution hubs around the world. Walmart is still the largest retailer in the world, but they are playing catch-up with Amazon’s sophisticated shipping logistics. Walmart is using free delivery and next-day store pick-up tactics to try and overcome Amazon’s Prime service advantage.
Expanding the Delivery Options to Compete
As online sales grow, retailers, both large and small, will need to invest more in creating efficient delivery options for their clients. Even the smallest players need to analyze their current logistics and delivery capabilities. It is evident that consumers will choose convenience over loyalty. Smart courier and delivery software solutions can help businesses compete with the likes of Amazon and Walmart. These solutions can be designed to fully integrate with existing inventory management systems.
Automation For All
Automation is not the exclusive domain of the Titans. Every business, no matter what size, can invest in sophisticated logistics to help them scale up and grow their sales. By understanding the challenges posed by the retail giants, and taking steps to overcome them, small and medium-sized businesses can thrive in this competitive environment.
Guest Author of this article: Victor Torre