Most people tend to associate D2C brands with their eye-catching marketing and growth story.
Who can forget how Dollar Shave Club exploded into popularity with their viral “Our Blades Are F***ing Great'' video, while Glossier went from beauty blog to beauty brand disruptor. In Asia, what was Bonito Chico blogshop has grown into one of the region’s biggest fashion brands as Love Bonito.
If you ask any D2C leaders what really keeps the company humming successfully though, you can bet that many of them will point to a well-oiled supply chain team. These are the people who make sure that products are delivered on time and as promised, while ensuring that inventory is managed efficiently.
“An e-commerce brand is only as good as its last delivery,” says Yeann Tan, co-founder of MATES, and acquisitions team member at Rainforest.
“If you’re not meeting delivery expectations, you’re going to have a lot of upset customers. And if you run out of stock, you simply miss out on sales that will go to a competitor”
Yeann should know. In her acquisitions role, she has reviewed e-commerce brands across many categories, size and products that have requested for a valuation from Rainforest. One typical pattern she’s seen in these brands’ historical performance is a period of fast sales, followed by weeks and even months of depressed sales due mainly to stockout on hero products arising from the initial demand spike.
“You can never stop improving your supply chain,” says Suki Krishnan, Director of Supply Chain at Rainforest. “There’s always room for improvement, whether it’s in terms of speed, quality, or cost.”
At Rainforest, Suki leads a supply chain team that helps fulfil thousands of orders daily, across multiple countries. But it’s not just about fulfilling orders quickly. Brands also have to contend with the fact that they are often selling unique or hard-to-find products that need to be sourced from all over the world.
“We have to constantly evolve our supply chain to meet the changing needs of our brands and customers,” says Suki. “For example, we have now organised some fulfilment centres to cater not just to Amazon shoppers, but also to Shopify and Walmart customers. This helps brands to improve their sales. Multi-channel demand visibility is important for optimal inventory allocation and hence support brands' growth plans.
In other words, a good supply chain team can be the difference between a brand that is able to scale quickly, and one that is stuck in a growth rut. So if you’re an e-commerce brand that’s looking to scale, don’t forget to give some love to your unsung heroes in the supply chain team. They just might be the key to your next phase of growth.
If you’re exploring roles in supply-chain or logistics, Rainforest is hiring!