Innovating Supply Chains for Resilience, Responsiveness, & Renewal

First published by blu, on 04 March 2022

Warehousing and fulfillment

Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, Singapore’s eCommerce sector has seen immense growth, with its market size of 4.6 billion USD back in 2020 expanding to encompass more than 6.2 billion USD just last year. This growth is set to continue on its trajectory, with 2022 numbers estimated to reach nearly 7.3 billion USD in total.

However, much of the growth in Singapore’s eCommerce scene thus far has largely gone to benefitting retail giants. The ones who have come out on top are those that have already invested in expanding capabilities in their supply chain management and logistics, to deal with the rising demand and consumer expectations.

On the other hand, most medium-to-large businesses in Singapore’s eCommerce sector have found themselves lacking a workable solution to deal with or fully capitalise on the changes underlying the growth in the eCommerce market.  

Change in Consumer Expectations 

Online shopping is swiftly turning into an everyday task for most, and the need for effective eCommerce fulfillment has never been higher. The growth in Singapore’s eCommerce sector has not just seen an increase in total market size but also in the number of online retailers competing with one another to best meet consumer needs.

Consequently, an inherent shift in consumer expectations has also occurred. With so many brands and businesses stepping up their game to provide customers with seamless shopping experiences, convenience is no longer a mere competitive advantage in the eCommerce scene — it is compulsory

The Need for Change in Supply Chain Management 

Though there are numerous ways through which businesses can offer their customers greater convenience, there are three areas of focus that have proven to be the most significant of the lot: stock availability, fast delivery times, and accurate order fulfillment. 

There is thus an evident need for change and expansionary efforts in supply chain management; a costly endeavour when adopting traditional practices, which is why large retailers with deeper pockets have been mostly winning out over their smaller counterparts. 

But improving supply chain systems does not necessarily have to entail high capital spending, especially so if innovative improvements are deployed.

Innovating Warehousing and Logistical Processes in Supply Chain Systems

Targeted innovation offers itself as a much more cost-friendly solution to the problem than the traditional upscaling of logistical operations, while being just as—if not more—effective. 

Medium to large eCommerce companies in Singapore should thus look to innovate their supply chain management systems in a targeted manner, to facilitate improved stock availability, delivery times, and order fulfillment, namely.

In this regard, warehousing and logistics can easily be highlighted as key areas of interest. Not only do the two complex operations lie at the core of every supply chain system, they are also directly responsible for the three aforementioned deliverables that eCommerce companies should be looking to provide to their consumers.

Unfortunately, most traditional conventions in this regard were designed with a focus on cost-minimization rather than value creation, and are ill-fitted to tackle the needs of today’s consumers.

Innovation within these systems is thereby required, such that their modernisation entails in themselves a viable solution for eCommerce businesses in Singapore, through their curated contribution to improving supply chain resilience, responsiveness, and renewal

Resilience

Here, supply chain resilience refers to the ability to react to irregularity in consumer demand patterns or supply disruptions such that both business operations and customer timelines are not dramatically impacted, and delivery times are punctually met. 

Digitalisation plays a vital role here, where digital technologies should be employed for around-the-clock real-time inventory visibility. This empowers firms to better manage complex, multi-node supply chains and—more importantly—grants them greater access to data. 

Businesses empowered with greater inventory visibility can thus use their increased access to data for in-depth data analytics. This enables them to better forecast future demand and supply in an accurate manner, such that they can optimally position themselves to address fluctuations in the market through informed decision-making.

Aside from digitalisation, Singapore businesses may also want to consider investing in AI-powered robotics and system redesign as warehousing solutions for supply chain resilience — to facilitate organised inventory management through piece-level storage and FEFO shelf-life execution and accuracy in order fulfillment through precise and efficient picking and parcel preparation processes. 

All in all, innovating supply chains for increased resilience thus grants eCommerce businesses in Singapore with a solution to supply shocks and market fluctuations, thereby giving them the competitive edge of staying ahead of competitors and continuing to thrive despite uncertainty in business environments.

Responsiveness

Along the same vein, innovation through digitalisation can also grant eCommerce businesses in Singapore with a solution to the increased consumer demand for swift delivery times and accurate order fulfillment. 

As previously elaborated upon, around-the-clock real-time inventory visibility allows for reliable demand and supply forecasting, which increases not only a company’s supply chain resilience, but also—when paired with proper staff training—supply chain responsiveness.

When you have an experienced team that is well-equipped to handle shipments of varying quantities and types, data analytics using inventory visibility and account management allows you to drive order flexibility to both leverage demand surges for greater revenue and adapt to demand dips for cost-savings in terms of warehousing expenses. 

In other words, the ability to—not only swiftly recover from, but also—rapidly respond to volatile market patterns is the warehousing and fulfillment solution that eCommerce businesses in Singapore need; one that allows for swift delivery times and accurate order fulfillment to appease consumers, while also empowering businesses to maximise profits through revenue optimisation and cost-minimisation. 

Renewal

As mentioned earlier, one of the key consumer pain-points that has emerged with the growth of the eCommerce sector is that of stock availability. 

Consumers today relate stock availability to brand reliability, and it is thus important for businesses to ensure that their supply chain systems are continually renewed and replenished in an optimal manner, such that the goods they sell are in-stock as much as possible. 

Here, innovating for real-time inventory visibility comes as an efficient solution once again, enabling eCommerce businesses in Singapore to stay atop matters regarding inventory and stock management, to the extent that supplies can be re-ordered in a timely enough manner to ensure that items in demand do not go out-of-stock. 

The adoption of a cloud-based portal for consolidated management access to all logistics activities can also be greatly beneficial for improved supply chain renewability and replenishment, especially for businesses with more complex supply chain systems.

3PLs as a One-Stop eCommerce Fulfillment Solution

With all that being said, it is also undeniable that—though a lot less expensive than traditional expansionary efforts—innovating supply chain systems in a targeted manner can still be significantly costly. Not to mention that systematic implementation of the entailed technology, tools, and processes is no easy feat.

That is why partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) service provider—or, in other words, fulfillment centers—is more often than not a good idea. In fact, there are three tremendous benefits that inherently come along with opting for 3PL:

  1. Balancing forecasts—no matter how accurate—with actual demand and supply is not easy, and the shortage or excess of storage space, stock, and labour can add up to significant amounts representing lost profit or avoidable costs. 

Engaging a 3PL service provider for eCommerce fulfillment can thus be greatly beneficial in this regard. Working with blu, for example, will mean that you gain access to all our dedicated infrastructure and tools. In other words, you will no longer be limited by the availability or up-/down-scaling of infrastructural space and workers for your warehousing and order fulfillment needs.

  1. 3PL service providers like blu also have the luxury of focusing on core competencies solely to do with inventory management and order fulfillment, which can be time-consuming and capital-intensive to develop in-house.

Engaging logistics warehouse services in Singapore can thus free up significant amounts of capital and time for eCommerce companies to pump into other key business areas while leveraging the expertise of trained professionals and best-in-class technology from 3PL service providers.

  1. Lastly, working with fulfillment centers in Singapore allows eCommerce businesses to keep their fixed costs low, in terms of initial capital investments in infrastructure, staffing, and equipment. Ongoing maintenance and R&D costs to keep warehousing and fulfillment facilities and staff functional and relevant will also be passed on to 3PL service providers rather than borne in-house.

Partner with blu

blu is Singapore’s 3PL eCommerce fulfillment service provider of choice, with a state-of-the-art warehousing and fulfillment center run by trained professionals and powered by robotics and AI. 

Leverage our scalable and automated fulfillment solutions to be empowered with the agility, flexibility, and stability to fully capitalise on Singapore’s ongoing eCommerce boom.

Partner with blu today.