Ecommerce companies have had a range of challenges to overcome in the last couple of years. Problems with global supply chains, delivery issues, and even major technology outages have rocked the foundations of countless brands.
For companies in the burgeoning B2B ecommerce landscape, the rapid transformation of the world in the last couple of years has begun to open new doors for sensational growth. However, in order to take advantage of these opportunities, companies first need to know how to manage the unpredictable, and overwhelming impact of demand volatility.
If the pandemic showed us anything, it was that countless companies are drastically underprepared to deal with sudden changes in demand. By making sure you know how to keep your business running smoothly in unpredictable circumstances, you could place yourself one step ahead of the competition.
Steps for Surviving Demand Volatility
Opportunities for B2B brands in the ecommerce space are certainly growing. As of 2021, online sales for B2B marketplaces and sites increased by 17.8%, to a value of $1.63 trillion, and data suggests demand will only continue to increase. As business buyers look for more convenient ways to access the tools and resources they need, B2B ecommerce companies are poised for rapid growth.
However, business growth doesn’t always happen in a smooth line. Demand volatility is growing as a result of economic changes, unpredictable geographical borders, and changing technology. The best way to prepare is with the right strategy.
Step 1: Invest in Scenario Planning
No matter how well-prepared and informed your business might be, it’s difficult to predict every potential situation you might encounter. This is something we discovered during 2020, when the pandemic turned the entire world upside down.
However, scenario planning can still help you to prepare for a range of outcomes, by pushing you to visualize what you can do if certain changes occur for your business. Scenario planning involves modelling a potential response to a wide range of possible changes which could influence your company. You might look at what you can do if you suddenly can’t access your usual supplier, or if you need access to extra funding to purchase materials when customer demand goes up.
With scenario planning, you can have a selection of potential “plan B” options to turn to when something unexpected happens in your organization. If you’re struggling with scenario planning from scratch, you can consider using tools like Monday.com to help you.
Step 2: Find the Right Partners
Being prepared for anything in today’s unpredictable world often means working with the right partners. This starts with ensuring your supply chain and fulfilment network is made up of reliable people you can trust to help you with drops and increases in demand.
It could also mean having “backup” suppliers in place that you can turn to when something unexpected goes wrong with your chain. This ensures you’re never left without an option to fulfil orders if demand increases. Perhaps the most important partner most B2B ecommerce companies will need, however, is the right funding partner.
A partner capable of providing consistent capital for scaling, rapid growth, and demand volatility will ensure you’re ready to access the funding you need when demand increases. The key to success here is finding a company that can flex with you through both increases in demand, and drops. For instance, platforms like 8fig offer flexible funding options which can adapt to changes in inventory constraints, manufacturing delays or a sudden influx in orders. You can build funding lines based on your current situation, plan your supply chain needs, and create a custom plan for remittances in the same environment.
Even better, there’s no judgement or stress when you need to suddenly change something in your environment. Around 90% of the company’s sellers submit change requests, according to the team.
Step 3: Leverage Tools for Forecasting and Planning
As mentioned above, it’s difficult to fully prepare for every change in demand that might come your way, but there are tools which can help you to make more accurate predictions and plans. Solutions like CCH Tagetik, for instance, give companies access to AI-infused supply chain planning tools, so they can automatically collect and leverage valuable information when making plans for the future.
AI-enhanced technology can be an excellent way to strengthen your forecasting and planning strategy, as it allows you to collect larger volumes of data, and spot trends automatically. AI solutions can even suggest potential strategies for your supply chain and fulfilment strategy you might not have considered on your own.
In some cases, you can also leverage automation with your forecasting and planning tools. Automation features allow you to set up alerts and notifications to inform you when something changes in your supply chain or your demand levels which might influence your business processes. The faster you can be informed of changes in your ecosystem, the easier it is to make valuable changes, fast.
Preparing for Demand Volatility
Learning how to bullet-proof your ecommerce business for demand volatility in today’s unpredictable B2B environment can be complex – but it’s well worth the effort. While it’s impossible to predict every possible issue that may throw your business off track, the tips above should ensure you have the safety nets and guidance in place to keep your company running, no matter what.