Opportunities in e-commerce

Operations and supply chain managers help design and monitor processes that are responsive and satisfy expected cost efficiencies.

Operations and supply chain managers help design and monitor processes that are responsive and satisfy expected cost efficiencies.

Industrial growth has been predominantly shaped by technology. As technology evolves and facilitates newer platforms for consumers and organisations, functional competencies are transitioning. For instance, two decades ago, the production or manufacturing function was considered the the mainstay for organisations; today it is the supply chain function. Considering this context, management education has opened up more opportunities for MBA students who specialise in operations and supply chain management.

In an article in 2020, McKinsey observed that that there is potential for a 45-100% growth in consumers who purchase most categories of goods online. Moreover, considering that the pandemic has altered the buying behaviour of consumers, e-commerce is set to subtly alter the landscape of brick-and-mortar firms.

Consumers see an app or the web interface while placing orders and checking status; at the background, a large infrastructure consisting of fulfillment centres, movement of goods, personnel, funds flow and information is in play. Operations and supply chain managers have a tremendous role in the design and monitoring of such processes, which need to be designed for responsiveness while also satisfying the expected cost efficiencies.

Therefore, an MBA with a specialisation in Operations seeks to impart skill sets tuned to the needs of the e-commerce supply chain. Fundamental questions such as the expected learning areas for professionals may arise. Students who choose operations/supply chain specialisation gain expertise in a number of areas such as forecasting, sales, distribution, and logistics. B Schools are geared to take them through the strategic perspective as well as the on-the-ground, operational requirements.

Let us now look at the supply chain through the lens of firms. Some have set up new divisions that oversee various firms that leverage the Internet and technology while being largely virtual customer-facing ones. Therefore the firms that operate under this umbrella have multiple formats. As an example, format A allows customers to place orders through an app as and when required; format B requires customers to subscribe to products that are regularly delivered before 7:00 a.m. every morning.

Moving to the other side of the lens, those specialising in supply chain need to be aware of how to meet the requirements of a responsive format (for instance, A) while format B calls for an efficient model. Therefore, skill sets relating to forecasting techniques, scheduling, planning workforce staffing requirements, ability to handle large data sets and aligning the results with the marketing requirements are part of the job.

At the same time, there are a number of smaller organisations with a strong hyper-local footprint and the number is expected to increase, especially with quick access to start-up funding from private equity players and venture capitalists.

Therefore, there is enormous potential for managers who can straddle the complex interdisciplinary requirements of marketing and supply chains. Considering the global uncertainty, the vast domain of e-commerce supply chain is bound to throw up several opportunities for aspiring operations MBAs to flex their ‘grey cells’ while being firmly rooted to the ground in terms of functional competencies.

The writer is Assistant Professor-Operations Management, Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Bengaluru

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 20, 2022 12:44:12 am |