As much of Aberdeen’s research has shown, we’re living in a converged B2B/B2C world, one spawned from digitally-connected end consumers who have begun exercising their preference for new fulfillment models. That preference comes down to a seamless experience across each channel and delivery of the product within a day or two of placing the order.
As companies become more connected with their customers, there is a need for solutions that address the impact of B2B/B2C convergence within the 3 major operating legs. These legs are comprised of manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and retail segments, which each have lines of inventory and fulfillment processes that continue to blur.
With that said, there are a few key drivers behind the act of improving orchestration and operating flexibility that become clear. As research has shown, 61% of companies surveyed are shipping direct to consumer, and 38% are shipping direct to store, which shows a very compelling convergence trend.
Some of the basic drivers, eluded to above, that organizations are facing include the rise of supply chain management costs, escalating demand for service from customers, and the growing complexity of global operations. So what does this mean for companies who are looking to catch up with this ever-transforming landscape?
Let’s start with the basics: Smaller order quantities/lots, new inventory/fulfillment flows, such as vendor drop shipments to stores, or fulfillment/delivery direct to the residential consumer. When it comes to best practices in this new reality, companies must address current capability issues:
- Broken or each case picking (often full case shipping is the only need for B2B)
- The ability to weave online orders into the picking process in real-time, consistent with order cutoffs to support outbound end-customer delivery
- Rebalancing picking methods/systems and workflow capacities across the order-to-deliver supply chain processes in warehousing, transportation, inventory management, and delivery
Assessing these types of strategic capabilities and identifying key processes for potential reengineering are vital to success. On top of that, consider and expand external demand-to-fulfill capabilities with partners, as well as deploying a solution that provides integrated workflows and collaboration with all parties in your demand-to-fulfill network across each inventory and fulfill/stream.
With these best practices in mind, having the goal of a scalable, flexible cross-channel, outside-in execution strategy will resolve many of the headaches involved with the current B2B/B2C convergence trend.
Interested in diving a bit deeper? Check out the Aberdeen research report “Answer the Call: 5 Process Steps for B2B & B2C Convergence.”