Understanding The Supply Chain For eCom with Aaron Alpeter of Izba

Aaron Alpeter, Founder of Izba Consulting joined us on The eCom Ops Podcast to share his journey into eCom Operations, the way his supply chain consultancy works and the intricacies behind this field.  Check out all the other episodes of eCommerce operationshere.

You can learn more about Aaron Alpeter and MIRROR here:

Tools/Resources Mentioned:

Key Takeaways:

Aaron’s interest and journey into eCommerce  

The supply chain was something Aaron was always interested in – to the extent that he went to school for it and officially studied it. Right after, he got the opportunity to work at Unilever for their competitive rotational program for five years. At Unilever, he was fortunate enough to obtain projects which had high visibility. However, this prompted him to believe that he would settle into Unilever and stay there for 25 to 30 years. 

But in his heart, he always knew that he wanted to direct himself into the eCommerce side. Consequently, he made a conscious effort to interact and network with the eCommerce team, but due to lack of experience, he was unable to get through. That was when the realization struck him that Unilever would never be able to lead the eCommerce side of the businesses. Hence, he decided to look outside Unilever for the first time in several years.

Through his networking system, he was introduced to Hubble Contacts where he met them over for dinner, and he was bluntly questioned about the supply chain. This opened a never-ending conversation, and a collaboration was formed. He then built their supply chain model from scratch and joined full time, taking up the responsibility for supply chain, customer service and product quality etc. Thus, he began his ascent into the eCommerce industry.

With the expanse of experience that Aaron was able to muster, he was hired as a leader in the supply chain in Mirror. Co. With the success that Hubble Contacts was able to see, the company observed tens and thousands of subscribers who were far beyond their imagination. But the good thing was that they were able to meet their demand. From experience, they were able to calculate that on average, 8 hours (per week) were spent on supply chain whilst 60 to 70 hours (per week) on customer service, consultancy and working with 7 to eight companies.

What is Izba?

Izba is an end to end supply chain company which deals with companies of all shapes and sizes. They work with companies from the initial incubation period as well as those that have been ranked in the Fortune 500. 

Automation in Izba

Aaron believes that automation is something that continually needs to be catered to concerning the operations. In his mind, the supply chain is about taking the ambitions of the business to the intersection point where reality meets these aspirations. However, automation mustn’t be done just for the sake of it. There need to be core foundational processes set in place to reap benefit from the process of automation. Otherwise, you will be wasting resources in unnecessary areas. 

The shift in shipping trends 

As per Aaron’s experience, there is going to be a massive advancement in the shipping trend in the next five to six months, which is a direct result of the global pandemic. There was a large number of clients who were shunned by courier companies during COVID, and with the surcharges and higher rates being announced, there will be a need to chart out logic from the new structure.

In the United States, there may be a market for new delivery mechanisms which were previously adopted in other countries in Asia to try to rationalize this changing trend. If this happens, it will be easier to pressurize these companies to take down their charges. However, this is a struggle which may not be possible in the next six to eight months.

Common mistakes made by companies

Aaron believes that 80% of the problems that these companies experience are due to the way they design their supply chain. The structure is built such that it prepares for the launch but not the business itself. He gives a very pertinent example of how when a couple is having a baby, if they focus on just the birth and not the life after, they will be in for some significant trouble. The same case applies to these companies. 

It is essential to market the company and put it out in the open for all to see, but the strategy should not be solely reliant on advertisements. What it should encompass is a holistic manner in which there is an intersection between ambition and reality. 

Aaron’s biggest influence: 

In Aaron’s life, he has been fortunate enough to work with fifteen to twenty CEOs of startups which he feels have helped him succeed further. He attributes it to the way they think about business, priorities, problem handling whilst keeping an eye out for any changes in the market. Therefore, he feels he does not have one mentor but dozens who have helped him reach the place he currently occupies.

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