Over the past decade, the way customers have shopped with retailers and brands has changed. Omnichannel is not new, but with store closures this past year it has brought visibility into the importance of robust capabilities to enable consumers to shop when and how they want. Sometimes that means with a quality in-store experience, but at a rapidly growing percentage it means customers ordering on their preferred device to pick-up or receive how they chose.
For retailers that started as brick and mortar that have grown an online presence, this is a complicated multi-year initiative to enable that experience. We believe a retail store footprint is an advantage in the new Omni-Channel world, but it requires many different applications working in synchrony to ensure that customers can be connected to the inventory that they want, how and when they want it.
Throughout the customer lifecycle, the following types of applications are used to operationally execute this:
- Web platform for order capture
- Order Management System for available inventory management and order routing / sourcing
- Warehouse Management and Execution systems for warehouse fulfillment operations
- POS for store fulfillment and in-store transactions
- Customer Service Management system for tracking customer contacts and support
- Transportation Management System for carrier and service selection and label generation
- ERP and Financial Management Systems
- CRM for customer tracking and promotions management
- Merchandising & Allocation systems
- and many more!
This diverse IT application landscape required to run all of the functions of a retail company creates complexity and silos of data by function. Many of these applications have some reporting capabilities, with each reporting function attempting to measure performance in a silo. But in reality, there is causality between functions and across the retail lifecycle that when stitched together enables businesses to identify opportunities and make necessary adjustments to improve profitability and performance while growing their brand.
Here are a few questions that OmniChannel Operations teams should consider across applications:
What is my customer on-time delivery performance?
When you promise 2 days, 5 days, or 7 days for home delivery, how often does that get there in time? Even though due to Amazon, the buzz is 2 day delivery, at a minimum retailers need to set expectations up front and hit those guidelines on a regular basis. Every late order has real costs: increased customer contacts and appeasements, higher rates of returns, and lower likelihood that the customer will shop again. In order to improve, retailers must have visibility into not only click-to-delivery times, but also what was the required delivery date based on delivery level selection, missed SLA packages, and the ability to drill into the data from operational systems as to why orders were delivered late. Was it not shipped on time? Was there a lack of inventory after order placement and order was on backorder? Did the carrier not meet expectations?
What are customers contacting us about?
Being able to tie customer contact center data at both an aggregate level and an order level to other order lifecycle operational data can identify opportunities before problems accelerate. If there is an increased number of WISMO (where is my order) contacts as a percent of orders, what is the reason? Did we generate more demand than our plan, and the fulfillment network is behind and has a larger backlog and missing SLAs? Is our post-purchase customer communications operating as we’d expect? Being able to know exactly what occurred on the orders that customers contacted about, and then aggregate those statuses and reasons helps quantify the why, and empower analysts and leaders to make better decisions.
How profitable is my OmniChannel business today, yesterday, last week?
Almost all retailers today are managing their P&Ls through excel on a monthly basis. They may have more real time visibility into Gross Product Margin $ of their demand, but how profitable is that demand after all of the supply chain execution costs? To measure profitability, retailers must be able to see the lifecycle of demand into fulfilled sales, impact of returns and cancellations, and measure fulfillment related costs like parcel spend, labor, and supplies expense at both an aggregate and order/item level. This visibility enables leaders to make more real-time decisions to hit profitability goals, including changing levers on promotions and marketing spend, and adjust item eligibility or safety stock levels.
We created Elevate to provide end-to-end visibility to retailers, so they can answer questions like the ones above. We know how difficult, time intensive, and expensive it can be to build and maintain internal data systems to support an omni-channel business, which is why offering this as a service just makes sense. Elevate includes prebuilt modules and application adapters ready to implement on top of the top operational applications, which means your business leaders and analysts can get access to this data in weeks instead of months or years.
If you relate and want to learn more, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.