In the preceding posts, my colleagues reviewed both the top challenges to expanding e-commerce and how to adopt and build an operations framework to support drop shipment. Now that you’ve set the groundwork, it’s time to implement a sustainable and scalable dropship program that fosters supply chain and customer service innovation.
Over the course of three decades of working in supply chain, I’ve found it most efficient to simplify the implementation of sustainable, scalable dropship by implementing what I’ve termed the “IDEAL” methodology. You can also see the chart below for a quick reference.
Before you start to deliver on your ecommerce and dropship program, you need a plan to set the terms about how you want to roll it out. First, work with your team to create a document that establishes ownership and management of your drop ship program. Once that’s done you can build the first project schedule (which might need to be changed and augmented as you move forward). Make sure deadlines and ownership are clearly outlined.
As you get organized, make sure you take information security into consideration. You want to be certain that all your work meets stringent security and encryption standards and will protect both your organization and your customer base.
Now that you’ve outlined your plan, it’s time to build a framework to help you work with both your suppliers and your customers. Develop a customer acceptance plan and be certain that it considers any feedback you’ve received from customers on what they’d like to see in a dropship program.
First, get a list of the suppliers that you already work with and reach out to them to inform them of your plan. Be prepared for their feedback based on their experience working with other dropship programs.
Finally, work with your team to finalize a vendor notification letter about your program and what’s expected from their participation.
You don’t want to go live before you make sure everything works; any exposed issues could hobble your dropship program before it takes off. Instead, build a test environment. Ultimately, it should be the template for a dropship system that can run independently with minimal slowdowns. Finally, notify your trading partners, send appropriate surveys for customer feedback and then get ready to show off your work.
It’s time to display your work to the people who matter most. Run that plan to make sure nothing was missed. No sense in developing the acceptance test plan if you don’t use it. Show your test site to the customers. Solicit and incorporate any critical feedback before you take your dropship system live. You should have eliminated bugs and glitches during the earlier test processes but keep your eyes open for any lingering issues.
You are finally in business after all the work, and the pieces are in place to grow intelligently and innovate as you proceed. Hopefully you will be busy with orders but as you start working you should reach out to your trading partners, run system checks and send compliance letters to your vendors. Finally, keep your company apprised of how the drop ship program is proceeding and keep your team alerted to both and any issues.
In our next three-part series, we will focus on helping suppliers establish a sustainable dropship program.