Supply Chain Strategies for SMBs

We recently spoke with Forrest Burnson, researcher at Software Advice, a site that provides analysis and reviews of warehouse management systems, regarding his latest thoughts on supply chain strategies for SMBs. Read our Q&A with Burnson below and share your thoughts by commenting on this post, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Q: Why is it so important for SMBs to pay attention to Amazon’s supply chain strategies?
A: Amazon isn’t just a pioneer to be admired—it’s the main competition for practically every retail store in the country. So it’s critical to examine what they do and emulate the “Amazon supply chain model”, including their best practices, when possible.

Q: What competitive edge can smaller retailers get from trying to be more like Amazon?
A: Amazon is notorious for having an extremely frugal corporate culture. It’s quite interesting to read about the various cost-cutting measures they take, and no doubt every business could learn a thing or two from Amazon on how to cut costs. Even small things like using different packing materials or looking for ways to automate simple warehouse tasks can add up over time.

Q: Since your average e-commer realistically can’t keep up with more advanced technology such as drone and same-day delivery, which technologies should these smaller retailers invest in?
A: There are a lot of things Amazon does that nobody can touch them on. So for the average e-commerce retailer, it’s really a question of going back to basics: provide superior customer service and higher quality products. It’s a myth now that Amazon is the cheapest place to shop online; indeed a lot of Prime products are actually inflated in price to make up for the “free” two-day shipping. Figure out where Amazon is overcharging and see if you can compete that way.

Another thing to keep in mind: Have you ever noticed how easy it is to order something off of Amazon? That is very much so intentional. Every time I shop on a smaller e-commerce site, it’s mind-boggling how complicated the ordering process can be. Just doing little things like tweaking your site to be more user-friendly can drive a lot more purchases.

Q: When it’s time to invest in new warehouse management software, what are some tips SMBs should keep in mind?
A: Before selecting a new warehouse management system, do your research on the different options out there. Be sure that the vendors you are considering also serve businesses like yours. For example, a lot of WMS vendors specifically cater to 3PLs and can lack the integrated manufacturing modules that manufacturers who handle their own distribution in-house require. Vet the vendors and get references. Everything in life is negotiable—even contracts for a new warehouse management system.

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