We frequently engage with retail customers to work on their Omnichannel aspirations. More often than not, customers are very ambitious regarding promise and fulfilment to ensure a superior customer experience or, in other words, to achieve ‘the perfect order’.
On the other hand, we regularly see these same customers struggle to honour those promises, due to inefficiencies or complexity within their operation or IT landscape.
In this blog, we would like to share our experience around these challenges and provide some pointers on how the Omnichannel roadmap definition may be approached.
Please note that our intention is to provide some guidelines on the approach, rather than specific solutions. We are very much aware that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’!
Typical Omnichannel aspirations
- Deliver within 2 hours
- Transfer goods from other store or DC locations to a specific store for customer collection
- Use all locations for all orders – Transfer orders, ship from store, return in-store etc.
- Use Artificial Intelligence to fulfil orders from the best locations to reduce or eliminate mark-downs and write-offs
- Promise and fulfil from cross-border locations
- Have a single view of Inventory for all channels
- Provide consistent consumer promise and experience
- DC stock is used for both fulfilling my online orders and by the supply-chain team for store replenishment
- Multiple legal entities within the brand from a financial/accounting perspective resulting in multiple ERP systems.
- Legacy systems cannot publish stock near real-time
- Carriers do not cover certain regions
Often defining Omnichannel requirements (including designing and developing the components to serve the requirements) without complete consideration to current operational SLAs, current system limitations, architectural issues (staggered systems handling inventory, fulfilment etc) can negatively impact on your ability to achieve ‘perfect orders’
Your Omnichannel initiative should take reality into consideration. Implementing your Omnichannel requirements should go hand-in-hand with addressing the challenges within your current IT eco-system, business and operations.
Does that mean that I have to wait for years before I realize my Omnichannel vision?
No! That may not be affordable especially when your competitor is eating your lunch!
By way of an example, perhaps your store stock is a moving target, and you don’t get regular updates on store stock changes, but you still want to fulfil online orders from store stock.
An option: Use safety factors to avoid overselling scenarios
A consideration: If you apply safety factors very broadly, you will restrict the inventory that gets exposed to online purchase. This may mean you end up not selling certain stock which could result in markdown or write-off.
The mitigation: The ability to set the safety factor based on demand planning and dynamically changing the safety factors based on inventory velocity becomes critical to avoid this issue.
If you take your Omnichannel requirements on a case-by-case basis, we have found there are innovative ways to introduce value-adding functionality and enhance the functionality/design towards an optimized way of delivering your Omni-channel requirements.
While your Customer expects Omnichannel service from you, they measure you not just with what you offer, but with the way you keep up that promise (i.e. how ‘perfect’ is your order in terms of the customer experience).
It is easy to say ‘walk before you run’, but it is not affordable or possible all the time.
You can still make your key systems/data Omnichannel while your business, operations, and architecture are catching-up.
As long as you add measures to protect yourself from disappointing your customer, you should be able to get there sooner rather than later.
Look at your Omnichannel requirements in conjunction with your current state
It’s possible to get started with Omnichannel with a ‘not quite ready’ eco-system.
You can begin creating a long term Omnichannel eco-system within your IT, business and operations (which may take some time to get right. Whilst in parallel delivering some key, value-adding Omnichannel functionalities quickly
Rollout your Omnichannel functions with the technologies, tools and experience to mitigate the challenges your current landscape can cause against delivering perfect orders.
If you want to talk more on this, please contact us. Or, to read more around rapid deployment options for omnichannel, please click here.