Despite what you might think, your customers don’t care about ‘digital’, ‘omni-channel’ or ‘e-commerce.’ They care about buying products how they want, where they want, and swift and competent customer service.
In other words, these buzzwords are just a means to delivering on changing customer demands.
In order to fulfill on these changing demands, retailers need to assess their customers, competitors and changing technology. There are a few key questions that you can ask:
What is your competitive advantage?
Are you delivering on your customer promises?
Which channels are your customers using? Are all of them profitable?
Do your customers complain that you don’t offer certain channels?
Is your e-commerce platform working? Are customers completing their baskets?
By answering these questions, you will immediately get a good grasp of where you are at as a business and areas where you can improve.
Highly likely, there are functions of the business that you can get better at. This could be from your business's point-of-view or from your customer’s perspective. Both are equally important.
Below we discuss how to fulfill these changing demands:
You need to start with developing a strategy. In addition, you will need technology that is adaptable and can increase its capacity with your customers.
At its core, you will need WMS that drives order fulfillment, tracks orders and manages logistics. But not just any WMS, you need infrastructure that is flexible, dynamic and changeable; as your business grows.
This software will have the functionality required to operate basic warehouse processes, but it should also enable users to be able to optimise every process across the supply chain.
As a result, you can optimise each process in order to work smarter and more effectively than your competitors.
If you discover better ways to perform specific tasks, your WMS and supporting systems should enable you to do so. Without this functionality, it nullifies a potential competitive advantage.
This aligns with your supply chain being viewed as a strategic differentiator rather than just a cost centre. In addition, flexible software means that you won’t need to replace the system in the future.
Lastly, being able to make changes to your WMS in-house - decreases or eliminates service bills.
You can learn more about this solution here.
What's next for retailers?
As omni-channel retail becomes the standard, there will be a shift towards unified commerce. This is the notion that there is a single centralised source of all data - across every channel. It collects data from your WMS, POS, planogram, order management and ERP systems, and displays it all in one place.
This central view will give you the visibility you require even if your supply chain expands internationally.
You will need complete visibility if you want to offer your customers the products they want, when they want them.
This approach requires retailers to optimise their supply chains around the buyer experience. In a survey by Retail Systems Research, consumer buyer preferences were ranked as the greatest external force impacting retailers in 2016.
In this same survey, only 30% stated that omni-channel retailing was the biggest influence on their business. It is clear that retailers need to reevaluate the way they invest their resources.
A true unified commerce operation means that there is one source of data for your entire business. This data is not siloed across each system; instead, all information and processes are managed in the same interface.
As a result, your inventory tracking and order management will be more accurate; and managing returns and sourcing will be more efficient.
Retailers will need to find new ways to drive down costs as customer demands continue to increase. This comes as profit margins continually decrease as a result of faster shipping, lower prices and the buyer experience continuing to evolve.
In addition, retailers will need to learn how to compete with retail giants such as Amazon as the e-commerce multi-national expands into new territories such as the local market.
In summary, your supply chain can have a competitive advantage if you invest in flexible solutions that are able to grow with your business.
When you find new ways to drive efficiencies across the supply chain; you need software that enables not hinders these improvements. What’s more, you want to be able to make the changes in-house rather than dealing with expensive third-party vendors with poor communication, and who never deliver on time.
The savings generated from these efficiencies can then be transferred to the customer, increasing loyalty and overall customer satisfaction.
Talk to us about an omni-channel retail solution that is tailored to your business.