Reviewing Order and Inventory Management Accuracy: Holiday Readiness Series

It may seem like a back seat to the sexiness of giving personalized experiences and superior customer service, but during holiday season especially there is nothing that pushes a customer away faster or makes them more loyal to your brand then their ordering experience. Modern a commerce engine requires processing and managing orders from multiple channels, carriers, and delivery points. Having a full understanding of your multi-channel order process, channels, carriers, and delivery points and know what your customers utilize most to create a solid strategy to execute on giving the speediest and most accurate service possible. Identifying gaps in this process well before holiday will improve customer loyalty and brand reputation, as well as offer competitive shipping costs and the ability to offer customers more options to return which is prime during gift-buying season.

How much has your company lost from out of stock, overstocks, and preventable returns? Retailers lose $1.75 Trillion due to these items according to Magento Commerce research. What can you do to ensure your order management solution has all the critical capabilities with the necessary process in place to support your business going into Holiday 2018 and the future?

Echidna has come up with a list of 5 questions to start the process of helping our clients assess their current order and inventory management systems and uncover gaps that could be hindering their ability to provide a superior ordering experience for their customers and seamless backend experience for their employees.

1. Does your OMS support omni-channel fulfillment capabilities?
For example, in store fulfillment if your customer has purchased online. What options do you currently offer them and how hard is this on your backend to track? The ability to easily allow your customer to choose in store pick-up, ship from the store, ship to the store, or store associate pick/pack/ship is a competitive advantage in today’s customer-centric world and with the holiday business.

2. Does your OMS support multiple selling channels?
Can you offer a simple single order processing engine across geographies, brand sites, marketplaces, etc.? How does your system allocate this inventory to each selling channel and is it able to support complex ordering scenarios like presale and backorders with commonly occur during the holiday season?

3. Do you have an accurate and complete picture of all inventory across all channels and locations? Customers don’t want to have to wait or be transferred around to find what they want or where their order is. Successful businesses have a holistic view of all information based on a single source of truth so they can efficiently operate and provide a superior customer experience. Regardless of its physical location, can you associates have visibility into all inventory so they never have to lose a sale and can also give customers options on how to get it (ship to home, store, or set it aside for pickup in another store)

4. Are you able to easily choose the best fulfillment source, saving your company time and money plus offering an improved customer experience? By having a complete picture of your inventory you can leverage this to efficiently fulfill demand of products. This will require looking across your entire supply chain (warehouses, drop shippers, and physical stores, etc.). By selecting the “best” fulfillment source (proximity to customer, deliver speed, profitability, inventory turns, etc) you can greatly offer a more convenient, better customer experience while saving money.

5. Are you able to easily support returns processing? Holiday season means returns are coming in larger quantities than any other time of the year. Be prepared and ensure your systems are ready to not only offer an easy returns process for customers (multiple options to return, real time updating on where their refund stands, etc), but also will integrate with your other systems to show the products that are being brought back into inventory and where they are in the process.

Final Thoughts

Remember- what your customers want is to feel knowledgeable about their relationship with you and know they have both insights and options when it comes to the purchase and fulfillment experience. Having centralized inventory, order, and fulfillment capability to give your customer a consistent, low friction, omni-channel experience will give them this feeling and give you a strong competitive edge while ensuring you are future ready for Holiday 2018 and well beyond.

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