Mercado | Article | Mercado Lite: A simple path to a faster, cheaper, and leaner supply chain

Mercado Lite: A simple path to a faster, cheaper, and leaner supply chain

Article
First Things First

Mercado Lite: A simple path to a faster, cheaper, and leaner supply chain

January 17, 2023

We all know that the supply chain has problems. Most overseas orders arrive late and many have mistakes. Sometimes, when they do arrive, they contain completely different items to the original order; however, more often, we don’t know when they will arrive at all. And let’s not even talk about US customs problems and delays…
The net result of all these supply chain problems is serious business. Importers lose billions because they often have to throw away products that are not what they need or want, and therefore cannot sell. From wrong sizes, to wrong colors, to the completely wrong products, there is a lot of waste that happens. If that wasn’t bad enough, sales too are affected, with lost revenue stacking up into the billions because you don’t have the right size or enough of the popular color in stock, or you simply miss the seasonal windows due to delays.

Speaking of delays, did you ever consider that most companies have to over-order due to slow shipping? When your order is projected to arrive anywhere between 30 and 180-days, businesses have to run way in advance, meaning they must order a lot of products to be sure you don’t run out. This means higher inventory holding costs, higher waste, and lots of products that end up being heavily discounted after the season is over.

Let’s not even get started with the amount of time and manpower needed to do all of this, or the shipping container problems at the docks, or the poor working conditions of many of the people who make and transport the goods you ordered.

Introducing Mercado Lite

Mercado was built to shine a light on all of these dark corners of the import business. Since 2018, we have been working diligently to fix the myriad of issues, and now, we’re ready to help companies of every size improve their supply chain.

How, you ask? Mercado isn’t just for big enterprise customers, thanks to the launch of a new “light” offering called Mercado Lite. Now Mercado can help smaller companies fix many of these supply chain problems in minutes. No long setup time. No complex integrations. Just a better, faster, cheaper, and leaner supply chain.

Mercado Lite does this in three very effective ways:
  1. First, we cut down on mistakes. Mercado Lite lets small importers create their purchase orders inside the Mercado digital platform, and issue them in digital format to their suppliers and partners. No more PDFs, no more email. Just a digital, verified order all inside a single platform for everyone to see.
  2. Next, Mercado Lite prevents confusion between parties involved in an order, by requiring every change be accepted by both sides (importer and manufacturer). This way, if a supplier runs out of a color and suggests a change, you know about it before it ships to you. If you make a change, the supplier can also be informed, and you’ll know that they’ve seen the change and accepted it. It’s all visual and operates in real-time.
  3. Finally, Mercado Lite helps you predict with better accuracy when your products will ship, when they will arrive, and even tracks every stage of the manufacturing process. Built-in milestones on every order also let you know where your product is and how long until it will ship, keeping everyone on the same page and up to date, all without emails or phone calls, saving precious time and money.

While our flagship product, Mercado, is still focused on larger importers, we think Mercado Lite is a valuable tool for every company that imports from overseas. Enterprise customers can get ERP integrations, Freight Forwarder integrations, eDocuments including customs forms and full end-to-end supply chain management and tracking.

For smaller customers, Mercado Lite offers great value and benefits, simply by digitizing your orders. Give it a try now: start.mercadolabs.com
Mercado | Insights - The $2.8T international supply chain visualized
"In an 'ideal' world, an importer would have at least one backup country, and one back up supplier for every critical product... All of this sounds good on paper, however it's actually incredibly difficult in practice."
One key reason is the dominance of China. Many importers are concerned about China as a sourcing point due to increasing tensions between the countries. However, the reality is that China dominates mfg in Asia, and they are very good at it.

As a result, quitting China is hard, as you will see in the excellent analysis below by Rita Rudnik.

A second reason is much more mundane. Most importers lack a robust database of their suppliers, and their supplier's suppliers. On the surface this sounds ridiculous, however we have gone through decades of 'predictable' supply chains where this wasn't a priority. Using the example above, most of the bike importers I spoke to were simply not aware of how reliant their suppliers were on Shimano.

My guidance to all importers is to address this database issue quickly. Beyond resiliency, knowing a lot about who makes your products, and who makes their parts, is also critical for understanding things like cost, ESG, and sales.

Mercado in action

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About the author

Mercado | Meet the Team - Harlan Beverly, VP Engineering

Harlan Beverly

Harlan is an experienced engineer, heading up the Engineering team at Mercado through the entire product lifecycle. In his 12 years leading teams, Harlan has successfully launched 5 hardware and 15 software products including the Killer NIC, 2007 Network Product of the Year (CPU Magazine).
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