Tag Archives: eCommerce


What’s on the road ahead for consumer goods manufacturing? Although the industry is multifaceted and varied, encompassing everything from household goods to food & beverage to apparel and more, most arms of the consumer goods industry are facing similar challenges. Supply chain woes. Geopolitical instability. Economic uncertainty paired with rising costs. Ecommerce disruption. Changing consumer preferences. Labor shortages.

A common thread running through all of those challenges: Stress. According to Deloitte’s “2023 Consumer Products Industry Outlook,” which surveyed executives at CG companies with more than $500 million in revenue, seven of 10 respondents said their job is more stressful now than it was five years ago, due to those ongoing challenges. We believe execs in many industries feel the same.

Here are some trends affecting the consumer goods manufacturing industry today:

Consumer Goods Manufacturing Trends

Challenges remain on the road ahead, but the ride is getting smoother.

Continued supply chain disruptions. No, it’s not over yet. The supply chain bottleneck that most industries faced during the pandemic has improved in some areas but has not gone away. According to a new survey by Coupa Software, 82% of supply chain leaders report bracing for continued supply chain issues in the next year. The industry is looking for ways to take the risk out of its supply chain, namely by reshoring or nearshoring supply to offset the worry about once-reliable sources. One of the wild cards in terms of supply chain is the current geopolitical instability, with the war in Ukraine lingering and tensions heating up with China and Russia.

Economic pressures. A recession is looming. (Or is it? Nobody seems to know.) Prices are rising. Inflation is through the roof. In addition to impacting consumers’ pocketbooks and spending habits, these economic factors are in league with rising costs of raw materials, transportation and labor costs to create a miasma of financial uncertainty. It has caused 80% of respondents in the Deloitte survey to report they’re raising prices further to compensate.

Labor shortages. For the consumer manufacturing industry, the labor shortage doesn’t just mean a lack of warm bodies. It also means a lack of skilled workers. The old guard is retiring, and the new generation taking its place needs the skills to operate today’s complex machinery. It means increased training and outreach from trade schools. The problem is, the numbers of young people going into the manufacturing field are dwindling just when we need them most.

Changing consumer preferences. While human behaviorists will be studying the effects of the pandemic on consumer spending for years to come, we see one thing clearly. Preferences and habits are changing. A heightened awareness of the environment is driving younger consumers toward sustainable products, and companies themselves are being held to those standards. Buyers are turning to the comfort and familiarity of known brands rather than taking risks. They are also more focused on health, having lived through a pandemic.

e-and-m-Commerce surge. This is also about consumer behavior, with a twist. The ecommerce surge that started during the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down. According to Forbes, in 2023, ecommerce sales are projected to grow to 10.4%,with the global ecommerce market hitting $6.3 trillion. Mobile commerce (people making purchases from their smartphones) is poised to hit $415.93 billion this year. For consumer goods companies this may mean the need for a souped-up e-and-m-Commerce site for direct-to-consumer opportunities.

Proven methods for success

At USC Consulting Group, we specialize in helping companies reduce operating costs and improve efficiency… in this economy, or any economy. In our 55+ years in this business, we’ve rolled with a lot of changing tides and helped our clients do the same. We find that trends, challenges, economies and other factors can affect those tides, but tried-and-true operating methods can right the ship every time.

Two of the most powerful methods we use to help companies become more efficient and profitable are SIOP and LSS.

SIOP. Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning takes the normal sales and operations planning (S&OP) process and adds inventory to be as important of a variable and a strategic tool. Following this methodology helps manufacturers eliminate waste, increase efficiencies and achieve an optimal level between not enough and too much. It’s also an unparalleled tool for inventory management, which is a tricky business today given supply chain shortages and changing consumer preferences.

Balancing between too much inventory and too little has been the ongoing challenge after the pandemic, and SIOP can help you get there. If you would like to learn more about SIOP, download our (free) eBook, “Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning: It’s About Time.”

Lean Six Sigma. Two sides of the same coin, Lean looks at making processes more efficient and reducing lead times, while Six Sigma focuses on cutting down on defects. Both are useful goals when aiming to optimize your processes, throughput and ultimately, your bottom line. Together, Lean Six Sigma is a powerful process methodology.

But it takes years to master the balance between speed of throughput and quality of the end product. We have certified black belts in LSS on staff to guide these projects but also train your staff in the techniques. The goal is to make process improvement changes and ensure they are sustainable for years to come.

Interested in hearing more about how we can help? Give us a call and we’ll start by listening.

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The eCommerce industry is one of only a few business models that have thrived amidst the financial uncertainty of COVID-19. eCommerce did more than just weather the pandemic, it took advantage of the opportunity to accelerate industry growth by 4 to 6 years, according to an Adobe analysis.

While many assume eCommerce gains are relatively insulated, in actuality, the industry affects many adjacent ones, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. As the rest of the world struggles to catch up financially, eCommerce and related industries are thriving and rapidly changing. Here, we’ll explore how data analytics and manufacturing trends in eCommerce are changing industry operations.

Data Analytics

Increased online traffic and changing user patterns have led the eCommerce industry to employ sophisticated data analytics methodologies to predict consumer behavior. eCommerce stores worldwide make use of data analytics to provide product recommendations, perform market analysis, optimize price, and forecast demand.

Business analytics is nothing new, but its ease of use and popularity has increased in recent years. With many consumers worldwide still confined to their homes or local communities, more and more are turning to online shopping. Not only does this expanded consumer base mean more accurate analytics, but it also means more opportunities for business expansion, both in the eCommerce industry and beyond its confines.

Business analytics has become extremely important in business decisions because of its cost-saving abilities and adaptability. Specializations in the field include marketing specialists and business analysts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the business and financial professions will expand faster than average over the next decade, making an investment in data analytics an investment in your future.

As data analytics become more widespread, tools like Google Analytics, Supermetrics, and Glew.io are enhancing their user features and accuracy. Analytic usage across industries is easier when these resources are there to help bridge the gap. Each day, they’re becoming more and more accessible to businesses.

eCommerce in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is another sector that’s been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting trends in eCommerce. Some of the top eCommerce manufacturing trends include:

Changing trends in manufacturing extend to all commercial industries. If you have a product to sell, increasing efficiency and providing a better customer experience can make all the difference for your business. With the introduction of driverless cars and automated inventory counts, administrative pressures are relieved and businesses can turn their attention to other matters.

The Changing Landscape of Supply Chain Management

When it comes to supply chain management challenges, businesses must understand the problems at hand to identify the most pertinent solutions. Some of the most useful solutions today involve implementing advanced technology, including robotic warehouses, blockchain, and digital supply chain twinning.

Decentralized distribution is also being piloted by companies like Amazon, which is experimenting with drones and has larger ambitions to produce a floating distribution hub. While not all of these innovations have taken flight just yet, as we look toward the future of manufacturing, the eCommerce industry promises much more in terms of automation and agility. Most consumers expect timely, fast delivery via the postal service, and robotics and automation offer the quickest path to meeting high consumer expectations.

Overall, eCommerce is shifting to a digital economy, making use of blockchain for enhanced security and efficiency, while employing more technological and data analytics tools. The rise of chatbots and automated business processes allow business owners to focus on important matters, rather than dealing with trivial mishaps and other time-consuming administrative tasks.

Keeping Up in a Fast-Paced World

Staying on top of eCommerce trends in today’s fast-paced world is not for the faint of heart. It is perhaps for this reason that over the years, business owners have repeatedly held a stagnant mindset when it comes to innovation and improving processes. There’s always an excuse to put it off for later.

However, the fact of the matter is that now is always the time for process improvements. Businesses that stick to the status quo and maintain existing workflows find themselves falling behind financially sooner or later. The risks of stagnation are much greater than the risks of innovation, especially in today’s competitive global marketplace.

The market is continually changing, your competitors are stepping up their game, and consumer demands are increasing each day. Customers expect a smooth on-the-go shopping experience, fast service, and tech-savvy business models. Even for in-person transactions, consumers prefer contactless payment methods and online inventory availability. Their preferences extend far beyond the eCommerce industry itself, meaning progress in fields like automation and artificial intelligence are essential to satisfy new and emerging consumer habits.

With a customer-driven focus, successful eCommerce businesses aim to increase sales through data analytics and boost efficiency through more streamlined websites and supply chain management practices. Don’t allow your business to get left in the dust — eCommerce or not, digital shopping trends are shaping industry operations across the board.

If your business is in need of help to rocket into the future of manufacturing through digital transformation or supply chain optimization, contact the operations management experts at USC Consulting Group. They have been shaping manufacturing operations for over 50 years.

*This article is written by guest author Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.

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