Order management: to dabble or to dominate?
Customer expectations have gone through many changes in a short few years. Everyone was chasing the ability to offer 2-day shipping, but the need for speed is trending down in exchange for certainty, with 85% of customers not even opening their packages on the first day.
We’ve seen a creative resurgence in retail offerings, blurring the barrier between virtual and physical offerings.
But, a blurred barrier is still a barrier.
Customers just want to buy products. They’ve shown increasing willingness to abandon any technology or process that makes that harder. They want a frictionless experience that places all their options – regardless of source – in front of them. So what does supply chain visibility have to do with all these shifts? Everything.
Order management re-imagines things
As 2024 approaches, your order management system – alongside your ability to predict uncertainty and maintain control – will dictate whether your brand dabbles in the marketplace or dominates it. Here are 5 reasons order management and total supply chain visibility should drive your 2024 growth strategy:
#1: Everything, everywhere, add to cart
Inventory is the largest line item on a retailer’s balance sheet – only rivaled by real estate. For most firms, the keep-drop-add process is an annual assessment of what will and will not drive revenue. Aging and obsolete inventory reports are the litmus test of how this process went for you each year. Poor add decisions could tie up working capital for years or – worse – end in a write-off. What if it didn’t have to be that way?
Marketplaces have come to dominate the ecommerce landscape, but their full power is rarely leveraged. Often the focus is on presenting procured goods to the customer, but it doesn’t have to be in YOUR warehouse.
Order management solutions and DOM (distributed order management) only need to consider available inventory. No one said you have to warehouse it – or even own it. You just have to have certainty about it.
See how our Bright Store solution helped Psycho Bunny get 60% of their stores into its available-to-sell network, shaving 3 days off fulfillment times and increasing inventory available to sell online by 20%.
Available-to-promise (ATP) could be your inventory, your vendors’ inventory, or another retailer in your trade network. You are only concerned with accuracy and regularly updated quantities. With the right tools, you can offer an enormous catalog of goods without the feast or famine of owning everything to find out if your customers want it.
#2: It’s in the where-house
Not so long ago, geofencing and channel protections on inventory were the next big thing. Each channel was run in isolation and had an internal team tracked and commissioned off turf defense.
Technology was needed to guard inventory against being purchased the “wrong way”.
Reread that sentence. If it causes you to scratch your head, then you are a modern shopper. Why don’t you want to sell me something? Does it matter to the CUSTOMER if you sell it online or in-store?
They want convenience and price parity. They actively oppose and flee friction.
It’s critical to your revenue – and inventory turns – to show your true ATP. The customer only cares that you have it. They are insensitive to ship-from-fulfillment centers, stores, third parties, or vendors.
Modern order management solutions let you take the order and the system computes the ideal location for fulfillment. The DOM does the hard work of tracking sellable inventory, modes and cost of fulfillment, and whether the SLA is satisfied. No manual calculations; only customer satisfaction.
#3: Slow it down, reap the benefits
As the WSJ pointed out, online shopping’s fast-delivery race is slowing down. Customers are prioritizing the cost of procurement over speed. If you aren’t going to use it immediately, why pay for overnight shipping? It’s not better because I got it faster; it just costs more.
Savvy customers also realize that if they aren’t paying for the shipping directly, it’s buried in the price or service fees. This all plays into how they are considering price and service when choosing whether to purchase.
SaaS OMS software has a unique advantage in that it isn’t reliant on static lead times or annual rate table updates when optimizing the process. The customer receives the best cost-to-serve in line with the service expected.
On the inventory side, consistency and predictability remove variance and noise from forecasts. If you have more time to fill an order, you can reduce safety stock and better tune your average order quantities to reflect the amount that will be consumed in the lead-time window. This is difficult, if not impossible when the SLA drives the execution time well below the replenishment lead time.
An added benefit is that all of this info can be shared with your vendors and network collaborators, moving the operation closer to JIT, removing waste, and freeing working capital along the way.
#4: Let the customer choose
What’s better than decisions made for you? Ones you make for yourself. For that to work, options must be presented in a highly efficient way so you don’t lose the sale.
Much of the decision-making has been removed from the customer in recent years for the sake of simplifying business operations. If you’ve dealt with anyone over the age of 3, you know that the more control is taken away, the more it’s craved – and appreciated.
Optionality is king!
While you may assume consumers want orders fast, cheap, or both, that might not be the goal. Maybe they want it in 3 weeks when the rest of their project materials arrive? Maybe they need it overnight? Maybe it needs to be picked up in an alternative and more convenient location. As important as ‘what the customer wants’ are ‘when and how they need it’. Providing a variety of SLAs – and their associated costs – gives the customer an underappreciated service offering: choice.
Order management and DOM solutions aren’t just for routing orders. They can intelligently delay processing based on the desired delivery date as well. Delayed order processing to the date the customer truly needs it – paired with customers not opening their overnight packages – means less money must be spent expediting packages that weren’t needed expeditiously.
From an operations perspective, this means you can start creating highly accurate forecasts of labor and shift needs, as well as looking at pairing inbound cadences to outbound commitments. The choice becomes a customer service that smooths out execution at the same time.
#5: Better information, best decisions
The combination of the previous threads is simple. The best customer service requires presenting timely and transparent information to your customers. It starts with the purchasing process and flows through to execution.
While not every customer wants to physically pick up their purchase, there is a segment who will browse online, see the option, and prefer the store.
Knowing where inventory is, in real time, is valuable insight into the customer’s decision. Will they shop online? Can they pick it up in a store? What does that experience look like?
Studies have found that the buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) option almost always results in additional revenue, as the customer makes snap decisions about products they see in the store.
Update me like they do my pizza
Any modern pizza place can provide task-based updates as your order is processed. Customers want the same from any company they give business to online.
Consistency, certainty, and confidence have displaced speed as the most important considerations when customers award their business. They’ll want to see that the order was accepted, processed, handed off to the carrier, and out for delivery.
Tomorrow’s expectations, today
While supply chain visibility is poised to move from ‘would be nice’ to ‘price to play’ in 2024, that’s on the business side. Customers are driving the pressure for merchants to adopt transparency – both process and information. Complexity in fulfillment options is increasing at the same pace that customer loyalty has been falling off.
OMS: Your full supply chain in 20/20 vision
Thankfully, Deposco’s OMS is ready for this market transition now.
Bright Order, our order management and DOM solution, brings real-time supply chain visibility and certainty across the network – owned or partnered. It works seamlessly with our warehouse management system (WMS), Bright Warehouse, in addition to integrating with one’s ERP, homegrown, and other providers’ WMS systems.
Are your order management processes and systems ready?
How would your life be easier and what quick value would you get from an OMS that empowers you to:
- View inventory across multiple facilities at once or filter down to the details of one warehouse?
- Quickly see inventory for all order types in a single view?
- Synchronize inventory across channels and external supply chain partners with simple, yet robust dashboards and reporting?
- Handle payments, returns, and order substitutions effortlessly?
- Offer new options, such as BOPIS or ship directly from the store, with flexibility aligned to your specific business needs?