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Success in e-commerce is largely dependent on your ability to streamline your manufacturing processes. But how can you tell when you’ve hit this important milestone? Getting the various activities that go into manufacturing to run smoothly requires a fair amount of work, but putting in the effort now will pay big long-term dividends, making it much easier to get quality products to your customers.

Focusing on a few key areas will help you be able to streamline your manufacturing process — and identify when you’ve accomplished those important goals.

  1. You’re Able to Avoid Major Supply Chain Disruptions

Supply chain disruptions can stem from inventory shortages, severe weather, production delays and more, greatly hurting your e-commerce operations. Successful e-commerce brands take a variety of meaningful steps to limit the impact these disruptions have on their overall operations.

Best practices include diversifying your supplier network, implementing a risk management plan, investing in machine learning technology that helps you predict disruptions and using transparent, real-time data to gain full supply chain visibility.

The technology available today ensures that many of these tasks can be at least partially automated, allowing you to gain essential insights in a timely manner so you can always keep manufacturing processes flowing smoothly.

  1. Quality Control Standards Get Desired Results

Quality control is critical for achieving the desired manufacturing results. High standards ensure that your customers receive quality products, minimizing the risk of returns and low user ratings. Of course, even with clearly defined quality control standards, working with the wrong partners could result in major time and materials waste when too many products fail to meet your expectations.

To ensure quality control standards get desired results, be sure you have systems in place to provide manufacturing partners with essential information such as product dimensions and tolerances, materials and other requirements. This, combined with a regular cadence of on-site inspections and third-party audits, will help your manufacturing partners meet your quality control standards.

With a clearly defined approach to quality control — including analyzing results to continually optimize processes and improve product quality — you can ensure a consistently high level of product quality, even when working with new manufacturing partners.

  1. You Have an Efficient Inventory Management System

A strong inventory management system helps reduce your overall manufacturing costs, while creating a more efficient and streamlined process for you and your partners. Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to know that you’ve successfully streamlined this aspect of manufacturing is when you have a user-friendly software solution that meets your needs and helps you fulfill your inventory management strategy.

Key inventory management activities that such software can automate include tracking inventory levels, setting metrics for reordering stock, submitting purchase orders, managing order forwarding and even tracking sales across multiple channels.

Of course, your inventory management software will be most effective when it is set up to align with your preferred system, such as just-in-time inventory management, where you only order and stock items based on current needs, rather than building up a large inventory of excess stock.

  1. You Enjoy Good Communication With Partners

Most e-commerce sellers work with a variety of partners to deliver products to the end customer. This could include the various manufacturers you work with to make your products, materials vendors, logistics partners and more. For each of these important relationships — as well as your internal team — the quality of communication will make all the difference in achieving a streamlined process where everyone successfully works together.

A streamlined manufacturing process will also account for how you will communicate with manufacturing partners and others. This includes considering what channels you’ll use to communicate (such as email or a software tool like Slack), how often you need to communicate and what topics you need to regularly talk about.

You’ll know you’ve successfully streamlined your manufacturing process when you enjoy transparent, open communications with your partners. You don’t have to worry about miscommunications because everyone is aligned on your goals and standards. And you have good systems in place so nothing slips through the cracks.

  1. Strong Data Is Your Guide

Finally, a streamlined manufacturing process enables you to make the most of manufacturing data. Tracking metrics like first pass yield, gross profit margin per product, lead times and inventory turnover provides a wealth of information to help you optimize various aspects of your manufacturing process.

Consistently using internal and external data can help you find ways to lower manufacturing costs, evaluate potential partners, ensure you have appropriate inventory levels and even select the right kinds of products to sell at your e-commerce store. Diving into the numbers can be intimidating at first, but with solid software to provide real-time reports on key manufacturing metrics, your decisions won’t be left to guesswork.

Instead, you can make decisions quickly (and have confidence that you’re making the right decisions) thanks to your data. A well-defined system for regularly reviewing data will make this even more effective.

Streamlining for Success

Even with your best efforts, experiencing occasional issues or challenges with your manufacturing process is completely normal. But by making a proactive effort to streamline your processes, you can become far more efficient and ensure that manufacturing becomes a strength for your e-commerce brand.

If you’re struggling, pick one of these areas to focus on until you feel like it’s delivering efficient results for your business. Then move on to the next. Over time, you’ll be able to achieve the level of streamlined manufacturing efficiency you need to make your e-commerce store a lasting success.

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