Orchestrating omni-channel orders and product availability: The ultimate customer experience

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  • 09 Oct 2020

Consumer needs and purchasing habits are changing and adapting over time in line with technological revolutions. The rise of the Internet, online shopping, and mobile commerce more recently, has flooded the market with changes that are forcing retailers to adapt their offers to better meet their customers' needs.


A number of factors impact on consumers' purchasing processes. In this article, we explain why product availability and the delivery experience are the two single most important factors – and why you should be honing both to improve your results. 


Availability and the delivery experience: the cornerstones of retail

We can't say it often enough: the customer is king. Analysing the average consumer's behaviour leads to the inevitable conclusion that product availability is the number-one deciding factor in making a purchase! 


Whether online or in a bricks-and-mortar store, the end result is the same. Consumers will always go with the fastest possible response to their need, and won't think twice about changing store or platform to find what they're looking for. 
This means that on top of having the desired product available, orders also need to be dispatched to the consumer as swiftly as possible. Speed comes at a price that most consumers are willing to pay. 


This is a golden opportunity to boost results 

A sample of 100 European retailers revealed an average stock shortage rate of 25%, meaning a 15% loss in sales at the very least. The goal is to make better use of stock information and improve order orchestration with a view to reducing stock shortages, cutting back on delivery times, and upgrading the customer experience – boosting sales as a result. 


Some companies, such as Amazon, Carrefour, Asos, and Cdiscount, already have a solid understanding of this concept, and are adapting their offers across all sectors. You're probably already familiar with techniques such as “same-day delivery”, "next-day delivery" and "click and collect in under two hours". The name of the game is availability and speed in distribution: pick a method, and start playing. 


1. Unify your stock


As a retailer, your warehouses and store network are your greatest assets. To avoid losing out on sales, unify your internal and external points of stock via your OMS or ERP tool, depending on your internal architecture. This will allow you to display 100% of your available stock across all customer contact points, nabbing you the sale every time. 


2. Define omni-channel scenarios


Once your stock has been unified, it's time to define the order management rules that make the most sense. A good way of tackling this would be to have the system prioritise points of stock near your customer, which will cut back on delivery costs, result in faster delivery, and reduce your carbon footprint. This last point is worth remembering, as it’s an issue that's becoming increasingly important, and will be more and more of a priority in the future. 


You might also want to take into account scenarios where you have high stock levels in a given store, which you'll need to get rid of to make space for new collections while avoiding promotional offers, or the expense of shipping the stock back to the warehouse or destroying it. 


You don't need us to tell you how important profit is for your sales. 


Internally, this will also help you better manage stock flow while improving cash flow and margins. 


The challenge: your teams 


Kick-starting this initiative will involve lots of different departments within your company: the online shopping, retail, IT, and supply chain teams will all need to be involved. Bringing these departments together around a shared organisational structure, with management rules that impact on warehouses, stores and your online store will be a major challenge. 


This article is extracted from the [FR] Order Management Omnicanal et disponibilité produit: L'expérience client ultime webinar by Jean-Charles Bordes, e-commerce Vice President at SMILE. For more insight on this subject and other webinars, feel free to check our Quick Talk page: https://www.smile.eu/fr/groupeevenements/quick-talk-tech-smile


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