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Keeping up with the e-commerce boom

E-commerce has flourished in the past year, but how can retailers streamline their supply chain management to meet growing customer demand?

Trade Reimagined

Covid-19 has left an indelible mark on the retail world. With global lockdowns causing stores to close and online shopping increasing rapidly, retailers had no choice but to adapt to new market dynamics at speed.

The e-commerce sector was already growing at a steady pace prior to the pandemic, but widespread lockdowns caused it to soar. In 2020, retail e-commerce sales worldwide topped $4.28 trillion, according to Statista, a 27.6% increase on the previous year. By 2022, e-retail revenue is projected to grow to an impressive $5.4 trillion.

As consumers move more of their shopping online, their expectations have risen. Along with increased optionality, immediacy has become a must. As a result, same-day delivery of goods, alongside a host of other customer preferences, are rapidly forming a new standard across all industries.

The permanence of this overwhelming shift to online consumption will rely on how well retailers satisfy their customers. As such, companies looking to capitalise on a consumer desire for convenience and immediacy must move quickly to build their capabilities in order to prevent a staggering halt to their online growth.

Pockets of growth

Statista estimates that the total number of global digital customers will reach 2.14 billion in 2021. That’s 27.2% of the world’s population who are doing their shopping online – and it’s only going to continue growing. While many developed markets are approaching maturity, markets in the developing world are on the cusp of exponential growth.

For example, online marketplaces are a major economic growth opportunity in Africa, which currently accounts for less than 0.5% of global e-commerce, according to the United Nations Conference on Development and Trade. In response to this, DP World have sought to tap into the potential and growth of the market by launching DUBUY.com, a digital platform that provides a B2B e-marketplace with end-to-end supply chain solutions for Africa.

E-commerce supply chain management, however, is not just about setting up a website or selling products online. It must also adjust to meet new expectations and have resilience against disruption. This can be achieved with near-sourcing and port-centric logistics.

Sourcing closer to customers

Businesses using port-centric logistics can create powerful opportunities that cannot be matched by ‘landlocked competition’. As a leader in port-centric logistics, we know that operators of ports and terminals are in a unique position to deliver significant value to their clients’ bottom lines. And now, more than ever, it is crucial that companies look to the ports for services beyond the container yard in order to access newer and better import-to-market solutions for their e-commerce growth.

Near-sourcing allows companies to move their warehouses closer to customers, speeding up the order fulfilment process. Moreover, by near-sourcing consumer products, companies can customise, change, or amplify any order and drive greater demand.

The growing need for port-centric logistics has most recently been highlighted by the online furniture retailer, Made.com, who have recently doubled their warehousing operations at our London Gateway Logistics Park in response to continued growth in customer demand for exclusive designs.

Supply chain digitalisation

Companies that are integrating digitalisation into their supply chain networks are also set to have a competitive advantage amid the ongoing e-commerce boom.

Our recent Trade in Transition research suggests that organisations across the world are embracing this message and realise that digital adoption will be key to significant efficiencies and supply chain resilience in age set to dominated by e-commerce.

In the last decade, big data tools have matured in a big way. They efficiently provide supply chain executives with predictive analytics that can help shape new strategies for transportation and logistics. These tools consider all variables inside the supply chain, as well as traffic, weather and social trends to create an accurate plan. This is key for retailers looking to decrease time and cost in their supply chains.

Part of DP World family since 2020, SeaRates offers a sleek service that manages cargo movement at every step of its journey, giving customers unrivalled visibility of their products. Prior to setting off, the SeaRates Distances and Time tool can provide a detailed image of a cargo’s journey, along with an estimate of long it will take it to reach its destination. While the SeaRates Marketplace allows businesses to view available shipments by both cost and speed.

Investment in digital maturity can significantly improve competitive advantage alongside multiple performance indicators including time to market, cost efficiency, product quality, and customer satisfaction.

At DP World, we understand that transforming a supply chain to better cater for ever-evolving consumer behaviours amid a pandemic can be challenging, but with our expertise in port-centric logistics, and our leading digital tools, we are driven to help benefit businesses no matter where they are.

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