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Dropship

Adopting a Real-time Operations Framework to Support Dropship

by David Swanlaw

In the first article of our series covering e-commerce and dropship, we listed the top challenges to expanding e-commerce visibility. In an ever-evolving industry, how do you update and maintain your operational framework to address the reality of an ‘always-on’ eCommerce model that relies on vendor dropship?And how do you compete with retail behemoths: Amazon and Walmart?

Four Key Components of an E-commerce Platform to Support Your Growing Drop Shipment Program

1. Continuous Synchronization

E-commerce customers aren’t tied to a clock; they might be visiting your website on a whim looking for a product at 2 a.m. IT must be prepared to support new shopping behaviors by moving from batch to real-time transaction processing.

Real-time data processing ensures inventory, shipping status of orders and product information is up-to-date across e-commerce, back-end systems and vendors. Re-thinking weekend system outage service windows is also critical to align to high-volume on-line shopping days. Finally, consider an EDI system that can integrate in real-time and prioritize e-commerce order transaction events.

2. Operational Responsiveness

Unlike the traditional supply chain – which involves bulk shipments and batch data transfers – drop shipment is about supporting individual customer at a much faster pace. Customers are exposed to every part of this process. As a result, attention and responsiveness to the business process is crucial.

Your drop shipment program needs to be set up so you can track orders from the get go and respond in four or five hours, and continue to track and respond until an order arrives safely. That information needs to be made available to various business teams from customer support to vendor relationship managers to merchants.

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3. Trading Partner Alignment

Unlike the traditional supply chain – which involves bulk shipments and batch data transfers – drop shipment is about supporting individual customer at a much faster pace. Customers are exposed to every part of this process. As a result, attention and responsiveness to the business process is crucial.

Your drop shipment program needs to be set up so you can track orders from the get go and respond in four or five hours, and continue to track and respond until an order arrives safely. That information needs to be made available to various business teams from customer support to vendor relationship managers to merchants.

4. Flexible Integration

Same day order fulfillment and delivery is a realty and consumers will demand more as retailers demonstrate this as a reliable service. You need to already be thinking about how to set up your B2B integration process to incorporate more vendors, transportation providers and 3rd party service providers to support same day drop shipment.

Find ways to better integrate your ERP/merchandising/e-commerce systems with trading partners systems. Look to leverage your current EDI infrastructure and any-to-any data mapping capabilities to provide flexible integration needs. Consider cloud-based data translation and integration services to help.

It’s About Sharing the Customer Experience

This framework is just a starting point; there are other steps you will need to take as you expand your business. Being mindful of them will give you an head start on your competition.

One last thing: while your vendor is holding and shipping the product, it’s going to appear like you handled all of it. This requires an operational paradigm shift for your organization to support collaborative inventory planning and operational coordination with your trading partners to deliver a superior customer experience.

COMING NEXT: Implementing sustainable and scalable dropship innovation

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