For manufacturers to remain competitive, they depend on a sturdy infrastructure. This extends from external components to the supply chain, such as transportation lines and electrical grids, to internal parts like information technology and inventory management systems. It's especially important in terms of providing end consumers and business partners with supplies and merchandise in a timely manner.
Speed is a Priority
Furniture Today cited data from Overstock.com that found online furniture sales have rapidly taken off as of late. Much of the traction resulting from a spike in e-commerce activity can be linked to customer demands for both convenience and pricing. David Nielsen, co-president of Overstock, explained current figures show that furniture represents roughly 7 percent of total online sales for the commodity. At just under $300 billion, this is a substantial sum of money, but that number is expected to increase heading toward 2020. While there is significant growth in the furniture market in e-commerce sales, customers put a premium on speed of delivery.
Accordingly, manufacturers and suppliers will need a solid infrastructure to deliver goods. Nielsen explained that 40 percent of customers will abandon their purchase if they aren't able to receive their items within four or five days of payment. However, 81 percent of orders reach their target within one or two days, while 97 percent get to the intended recipient within three days. This shouldn't come as a surprise for many manufacturers and businesses in general. The longer it takes for a customer to get something they've bought, the greater their dissatisfaction with the experience, especially if it takes more time than expected to get items through the supply chain.
Overcoming Infrastructure Ills
Various aspects of the manufacturing supply chain are out of a company's hands. For instance, the aging transportation infrastructure in the U.S. slows businesses down. Manufacturing.net cited data from the Federal Highway Administration Bridge Inventory, which found more than 24 percent of the roughly 604,000 bridges in the U.S. either have significant structural issues or don't function at all. It's difficult to pin down just how much it would cost to render many parts of the U.S. infrastructure operable, but that's generally not under direct control of most manufacturers and distributors. However, transportation infrastructure is related to internal processes, and there are a number of ways that these companies can bolster their internal infrastructure to strengthen their supply chains.
In a recent white paper titled "8 Signs You Need an Automated Data Collection Solution," RFgen identified several motivating factors that lead organizations to embrace automated data collection to improve their supply chain. One of biggest reasons can be seen in infrastructure limitations. According to the white paper, not all organizations are set up to handle wireless network coverage and provide it to their entire workforce. For instance, those involved in lumber often work in areas with either electricity or the wireless network is severely limited.
By employing a mobile strategy in connection with automated data collection solutions, manufacturers and distributors can continue to gain visibility over critical information. Mobile devices provide companies and their workforce with portable technology equipped with deep reservoirs for data storage, making them ideal to overcome infrastructure issues.