October 24, 2018
During the holiday season, nothing pushes a customer away faster than a bad ordering experience. They find the perfect pair of shoes, but their size is out of stock. They find the perfect gift for Uncle John, but you can’t get it there in time. How much has your company lost from out-of-stocks, overstocks, and preventable returns? According to Magento Commerce research, retailers lose $1.75 Trillion every year.
Having a full understanding of your multi-channel order process, channels, carriers, and delivery points will help you create a solid holiday commerce strategy. Identifying gaps in this process before peak season will improve customer loyalty and brand reputation, while offering competitive shipping costs, and the seamless returns customers demand during gift-buying season.
Echidna has devised a list of five questions to help you assess your current order and inventory management systems:
1. Does Your Order Management System Support Omnichannel Fulfillment Capabilities?
Can your customer pick up in the store what they purchased online? What options do you offer them and how hard is this to track on your backend? The ability to allow your customer to choose in-store pickup, ship-from-store, ship-to-the-store, or store associate pick/pack/ship is a competitive advantage during the holidays.
2. Does Your OMS Support Multiple Selling Channels?
Can you offer a single order processing engine across geographies, brand sites, marketplaces, etc.? How does your system allocate this inventory to each selling channel and can it support complex ordering scenarios like pre-sale and backorders which commonly occur during the holiday season?
3. Do You Have an Accurate and Complete Picture of All Inventory Across All Channels and Locations?
Customers don’t want to wait or be passed around to find what they want or track their order. Successful businesses have a holistic view of all information based on a single source of truth, so they can efficiently operate and provide a superior customer experience. Regardless of its physical location, can your associates see all inventory? Can they give customers multiple shipping options (ship to home, store, or pick)?
4. Can You Easily Choose the Best Fulfillment Source?
By having a complete picture of your inventory, you can efficiently fulfill demand for products from the best source. This means thinking beyond your warehouses. Can you fulfill directly from suppliers and from your brick-and-mortar stores? Factors including customer proximity, delivery speed, profitability, and inventory turns will help you determine the best source. To save time and money for the customer.
5. Can You Easily Support Returns Processing?
The holiday season means returns are coming in larger quantities than usual. Be prepared and ensure your systems are ready to offer multiple options to return and real-time updates. Your returns system should integrate with your other systems to show the products being brought back into inventory and where they are in the process.
Your customers want to feel knowledgeable about their relationship with you and know they have both insights and options when it comes to their purchase and fulfillment experience. Having a centralized inventory, order, and fulfillment capability will give your customer a consistent, low friction, omnichannel experience. It will also give you a strong competitive edge for the holiday season and beyond.
Internal Discussion Questions:
How do you access all your channels and route orders to the appropriate fulfillment location now? What would you like this to look like in the future?
Are you able to expose store inventory to online shoppers and provide flexible fulfillment options for all shoppers?
Do you have full geographic inventory visibility for your employees?
Can you offer an easy way to view order details (including refunds, credit edits, and appeasements) on mobile as well as desktop?
Can you leverage your order management system data to gain actionable insight into the fulfillment process?
About Kali Kasprzyk and Echidna
Kali Kasprzyk is the Director of Marketing at Echidna. She has been published in The Huffington Post on the topic of digital commerce and continues to write for various industry publications. Echidna is a leading digital systems agency led by experienced commerce professionals focused on helping enterprises evolve their Digital Commerce journey and maturity. Echidna focuses on the Consumerism of B2B with clients to guide them to maintain their B2B heritage while coupling B2C processes and solutions to add multiple points of value to all constituents.