Ecommerce; curbside collection; click and collect; ebookings…. faced with the confinement and challenges of various national lockdowns, many brands have had to get creative and accelerate their journey towards digital services over the last year. However, not all of them have successfully managed the transition.
In short, online orders have exploded over the last 12 months. Question is: how have retailers been able to absorb this spike in digital orders? In part, it has been thanks to Order Management Systems (OMS), which integrate all sales and distribution channels into one place, bringing transparency and making it easier to manage customer orders.
Optimizing Order Sourcing
The new demands of present times have forced retailers – and their OMS vendors – to innovate at an unprecedented pace. From adding drop-shipped items to websites to quickly beefing up sales, launching quick ‘on ramp’ digital solutions, or streamlining operations to maximise strained employee bandwidth, the need for innovation through technology has never been greater. In fact, in the latest Forrester Wave Report, it was revealed that 39% of retailers increased their investments in technology immediately after the pandemic began to disrupt supply chain operations.
Without this necessary push towards efficiency-boosting technology such as OMS, retailers would be left flailing behind the competition. With innovations like OMS, retailers have even been able to review the rules of stock allocation, temporarily giving priority to in-store stock over warehouse stock, thus freeing up any trapped inventory confined within closed stores. This comes as a great advantage to the many retailers whose physical stores were closed for long periods during lockdowns.
Optimizing order sourcing is another great strength of an effective OMS, which allows brands to use the stock available in their entire network, wherever it is located. A smart OMS allows retailers to use the ‘pool’ of physical stores in large urban areas to offer same-day, or next-day delivery by couriers, whilst also favouring the warehouse stock for less immediate orders. OMS can also be beneficial to retailers whose brands are sold on digital marketplaces such as Amazon, as it enables them to choose whether or not to include their shop stock in the pool of stock available for sale on digital shopping platforms.
Cost-Effective Omnichannel Offerings
In a recent study, conducted by Manhattan Associates and IHL Group, it was revealed that retailers who optimized their digital customer journey saw their margins improve by three to eight points more than those who didn’t. Additionally, by enhancing the customer journey through the use of technology such as an OMS, retailers are equipped with the knowledge they need to understand what their consumers want, and in turn, they can clearly communicate their promises to consumers – such as delivery dates and returns processes – leading to a positive bump in overall margins.
According to several independent studies, the conversion rate is said to increase up to 30% when a brand communicates a precise delivery date promise on a product page. However, 50% of consumers agree that they would in fact abandon a purchase if there was no delivery date indicated at the checkout. This is a good signal of the importance of offering total transparency to the customer regarding their order, as without it, consumers are left uneasy about not only the wait time for delivery, but the credibility of the brand itself.
Transforming Stores and Their Associates
Transforming stores into fulfilment hubs has been key over the last 12 months and OMS can help by unifying the interactions between the brand and its customers via digital channels (website, brand app, social networks) and in-store visits. Sales assistants can now have access on mobile tablet devices to all the information that will enable them to personalize the in-store experience with their customer: access to customer preferences, wishlists, order histories, and cases in progress with customer service, all available at the touch of a tablet.
Turning Returns into a Positive Customer Touch Point
Over the last year, the ability to promote more efficient returns of ecommerce purchases (to physical stores) has become an increasingly important all-round service for brands looking to maintain consumer mind-share.
An OMS in-store application allows customer service teams to directly search for the original order and record the returned items. Products in good condition are immediately integrated into the global stock pool, making them available for sale online, even if the item was not originally listed as such at the point of sale.
As for the customer benefits, these are clear; a faster refund process, improved order and delivery transparency, greater peace of mind and ultimately, improved brand advocacy and loyalty – which, let’s face it, in times like we’ve witnessed over the last year, is pretty much worth it’s weight in gold!
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead October 2021 issue.
Currently Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand at leading supply chain optimization provider, Manhattan Associates, Raghav Sibal has almost two decades of experience within the supply chain industry worldwide. Manhattan Associates has delivered supply chain excellence for over 30 years to more than 1,500 customers worldwide. In Australia and New Zealand, Manhattan provides supply chain solutions to a number of leaders in various industry sectors including Coles, Super Retail Group, Country Road Group, Chemist Warehouse, Cotton On, DHL, Target, Just Group, and Visa Global Logistics to name a few.