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The Storytelling Behind Supply Chain Success

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Author: Adam Novak, Senior Vice President at PAN Communications, headshot
Adam NovakSenior Vice President, B2B Tech

It’s been a wild ride for e-commerce brands in the last few years. With ongoing supply chain struggles impacting the online global marketplace, brands in this space continually have to ask, “What now?”

Despite the supply-chain challenges that have dominated both news cycles and consumer consciousness since 2020, it’s actually a good moment for innovative e-commerce brands. With consumers now accustomed to overnight shipping, same-day delivery and just-in-time everything, e-commerce has grown exponentially in recent years. E-commerce businesses that optimize their messaging and positioning can seize a unique moment for the industry and continue to move their brands forward.

What’s Changed?

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic dictated changes in consumer buying habits, the public’s perception and use of e-commerce and the supply chain shifted. At the time, it seemed possible that the shift was only temporary.

As lockdowns forced businesses to downsize, borders to close and shipping costs to rise, supply chains no longer functioned as flawlessly as they once had. This critical societal underpinning that so many had taken for granted for so long was now everyone’s concern.

With that realization came widespread market attention. Venture-backed supply chain management companies raised a record amount of money in 2021, and that number has accelerated throughout 2022.

What seemed a temporary shift was, in fact, the beginning of an evolution. The technology supporting e-commerce and the supply chain ecosystem has never been more important than it is now. Building a compelling brand story, with the right message for the right audience, is key to maximizing the opportunities that exist today.

Investment in e-Commerce Brands

Data shows that venture capital firms recognize the potential for e-commerce brands at this moment. There is a unique chance now for these businesses to solve recurring pain points for customers on a broader scale, and expanding those solutions begins with telling a compelling story.

The supply chain is known as an industry relying on outdated processes, more likely utilizing spreadsheets than AI or machine learning. The pandemic shone a bright light on their outdated methods. Under pressure to solve unprecedented problems, there is a growing acceptance of innovative tech within the supply chain ecosystem, and investors are taking note.

What seemed a temporary shift was, in fact, the beginning of an evolution. The technology supporting e-commerce and the supply chain ecosystem has never been more important than it is now.

Large funding rounds by tech companies are aiming to address the e-commerce supply chain conundrum. According to Crunchbase, 2021 was a banner year for venture-backed supply chain management companies, which saw $11.3 billion in funding, a twofold increase from 2020. That represents almost a twofold increase from 2020 and easily beats the previous all-time high in 2019 which saw $9.1 billion go to startups that look to keep the supply chain moving.

So, in this time of unparalleled investment, how can e-commerce and supply chain brands draw connections and cultivate relevance with the people they are trying to reach? Telling an authentic and relevant story is a good place to start.

Telling an Effective e-Commerce Story

The first step in building an authentic story is to recognize that effective stories are a conversation between the storyteller and the audience. Brands must work to understand not just what their audience is looking for but also how they think about it.

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What questions are people asking? Which topics are waning or growing in popularity? Are brands using the same words as the audiences they’re engaging with? Are the words brands are using to communicate reflective of how most people talk about these same topics? This alignment is an essential first step to ensuring a brand message will be heard for what it is. Examining your audience’s pain points and tapping into shared language aligns brands with prospects.

No matter how niche a brand’s products or services might be, its audience doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Understanding the universe of conversations taking place throughout the industry ecosystem can provide insights into where and when to enter the conversation. Follow news and stories as they evolve, uncover themes and connect them across many distinct industries. That makes it easier to integrate a brand story into mainstream discussions where stakeholders will take notice.

A common pitfall for brands is putting all their work into developing the right message without understanding the right place to tell the story. A strategic narrative isn’t enough. You also need a strategy to cascade it through sharper content and smarter distribution, leveraging earned, shared, owned and paid channels to reach the right stakeholders.

The right story in front of the right audiences with the right distribution—that’s a winning storytelling strategy. Mar/Comm leaders can use authentic storytelling to address common business pain points, such as those facing e-commerce and supply-chain brands right now.

This piece originally appeared on O’Dwyer’s.

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