In a recent article that I wrote for Lehigh University’s business blog IlLUminate entitled, “E-Commerce Raises Stakes for Supply Chain,” I point out that the e-commerce explosion over the past two decades has made supply chain and logistics management more important than ever—for consumers as well as companies.
For most of the past century, the retail supply chain would usually route products through a regional distribution warehouse filled with pallets and crates of goods that would be shipped to stores, and consumers navigated that “last 10 yards” to purchase what they wanted or needed.
Now, consider Amazon Dash. Literally with the push of a button, consumers can restock their pantries with such daily staples as toilet paper, laundry detergent, batteries, snacks, drinks, baby formula, cat litter, dog food, and much, much more without ever having to go to the grocery store.
The Amazon Dash button is only the latest technological innovation that makes it easier than ever to purchase items and have them delivered to your door. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics, total e-commerce sales for 2016 were estimated at $394.9 billion, an increase of 15.1% from 2015. By comparison, total U.S. retail sales in 2016 increased 2.9% from 2015.
On the battlefield of omni-channel marketing and distribution, the one thing we know for certain is that there will be winners and losers. Companies that have a lean, integrated, technologically savvy supply chain and logistics strategy will greatly increase the odds that, once the dust settles, they will be standing on the winning side.