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Search Results for: Supply Chain

Top 8 DeliveryCX Predictions for 2018

December 22, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

2018 Delivery CX Predictions

W

hether you’re a retailer, distributor or brand, how well you deliver orders matters. So here are 8 predictions for 2018 that will impact your Delivery Customer Experience (DeliveryCX):

1.  Sales via Amazon

76% of online shoppers said they would do most of their shopping on Amazon during the 2017 holiday season.¹

Expect to see: More retailers and brands listing their products on Amazon and using Amazon Fulfillment services.

2. Same Day Delivery

Amazon now offers same-day and one-day delivery in over 8,000 U.S. cities and towns.² Best Buy and Macy’s are expanding same-day too.³ And Target is buying same day delivery platform, Shipt.4

Expect to see: More retailers leveraging their store inventory to offer same-day delivery.

3. Real-time Delivery Status

Just like Amazon Prime has shifted expectations on delivery time, apps like Uber have shifted expectations around delivery details.

Expect to see: Uber-like maps with real-time tracking on package delivery, especially for same-day deliveries.

4. Increased RFID Adoption

The decline in RFID prices, combined with the increased need for inventory accuracy, results in more retailers rolling out RFID solutions.

Expect to see: More retailers implementing RFID to support their ship from store initiatives.

5.  More Marketplace Sales

Third party marketplaces, like Amazon and Walmart, expose your products to a larger audience (and can be a great marketing tool). Self-hosted marketplaces let you expand your assortment without increasing your inventory carrying costs.

Expect to see: More brands and retailers either selling on third-party marketplaces or launching their own.

6. Loyalty based delivery perks

Nothing delights a customer more than receiving their order ahead of schedule, and who better to reward than your most loyal customers.

Expect to see: Dynamic preferential delivery perks based on loyalty.

7.  Maintenance Subscriptions

Subscriptions move beyond makeup, shaving supplies, and grocery. Think ‘Home Maintenance’ (like bi-annual smoke detector battery replacement, air and water filters, driveway salt, etc.) or ‘Car Maintenance’ (like windshield wipers, antifreeze, oil, filters, etc.)

Expect to see: More subscriptions geared towards automated delivery of regular maintenance products.

8.  Bitcoin Won’t be a Mainstream Payment Method

Cryptocurrencies aren’t design to support canceled orders and refunds. This, combined with their high volatility, will prevent mainstream adoption in the short term.

Expect to see: Big fluctuations in cryptocurrency values over the next 12 moths, and more time needed for them to become a mature payment method that can support canceled orders and returns.

We’d love to hear your perspective. So, drop us an email, or, if you’ll be at NRF, let’s set up a time to chat. Contact us today.

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

Top 10 Challenges of an Order Management Implementation

September 26, 2017 by James Brochu, Chief Operating Officer

Order Management Implementation Challenges

A dedicated Order Management platform provides flexible order orchestration
capabilities so you can adjust quickly to market changes. 

W

hile every brand and company has its unique challenges, our experience in the sale and implementation of packaged Order Management applications has revealed a common set of problems faced by customers.  These problems add time to implementations, maximize work and rework, and cause pain for customers and companies alike.  While we have hundreds of best practices and recommendations for specific applications, we believe that these ten issues can empower teams to focus on what matters – delivering capabilities to your business!

1. Missing or under-supported business cases
Too often, businesses take as imperatives the initiatives that their competition and industry are taking on. This usually leads to large, poorly defined projects where success is measured only by project completion instead of business goals.  Defining and maintaining business cases for your implementation drives shorter time to value, higher levels of team empowerment, and happier end users.

2. Not designing your system for growth
Modern Order Management systems are more than capable of handling complex organizations with aggressive growth and Merger & Acquisition (M&A) strategies.  Done correctly, Order Management can save time, money, and headaches.  Done incorrectly, each enhancement or add-on ends up requiring the same level of effort as an initial implementation. Make sure you consider future ‘brand onboarding’ and ‘business expansion’ during the initial project phases. Play the ‘what-if’ game a lot to ensure you build a system that allows for flexibility in the future.

3. Taking on too many things at once
Order Management touches almost every system in your supply chain. If you try roll out everything at once, your project will take too long and involve more risk.  And given how fast the market is changing, your business objectives are likely to change several times before you go live.  Instead of trying to swallow the elephant in one bite, consider smaller, more functional releases.  Often companies start with the core data (inventory, items, pricing, customers) and take a phased approach to channel onboarding.

4. Not thinking in terms of ‘capabilities’ when designing your roll-out
By breaking your business down to the ‘capability’ level, you can then assess which capabilities you need to onboard a certain brand, channel, or product line. For instance, if one of your brands requires complex delivery scheduling and routing capabilities, and one does not, you might consider onboarding the simpler brand first, and adding the other capabilities and brand afterwards.

5. Training your technical team too late or not at all
Unless you plan to outsource the entire IT initiative including production support and ongoing maintenance, your team needs to take ownership of the solution early. Projects that wait until go-live to transition tend to struggle, because they don’t have enough familiarity with the product to make the best decisions. This causes increased employee distress, longer ramp-up times, and higher defect rates than a collaborative implementation and training approach.

6. Not partnering with a Product Subject Matter Expert (SME)
There is a large amount of tribal knowledge and lessons learned within the community of practiced implementers. Strong IT people are helpful, but too often a strong IT group will work AROUND a packaged application instead of WITH the application’s capabilities. They will write unnecessary custom code to achieve a business objective instead of using the products built-in configuration capabilities. This increases project cost (development, testing, time to implement), and risk.

7. Not getting buy-in from the surrounding ecosystem of applications
Order Management often act as a hub between dozens of applications – in other words, it touches almost every system. Correctly implemented, it often acts as the brain of your supply chain, but it needs the cooperation of other application teams.  Brokering strong lines of communication between teams is an imperative in today’s complex supply chain environment.

8. Using Agile methodology for the first phase of the implementation
This may sound backward and controversial, but Agile methodology is usually not a great way to implement a packaged Order Management application – at least initially. Experience has shown that a Waterfall methodology allows you to create a solid base of fundamental capabilities more quickly.  Things like application setup, participant modelling, inventory visibility, and catalog setup are all tightly interrelated.  Using Agile methodology usually causes rework as nuances of each are uncovered.  We do, however, believe that Agile is a great method to follow once this initial base has been laid.

9. Not committing to testing and performance testing sufficiently
Too often, these items are seen as optional afterthoughts.  And here’s the thing – 95% of the time, the system will work well enough to get you through.  But the risk is high, especially during peak season loads. We’ve seen ecommerce sites experience over a week of downtime due to insufficient testing. So, make sure testing is part of your plan from day one.

10. Not developing sufficient automation and environments for deployment
The leading cause of issues when deploying to new environments is, without a doubt, deployment error.  Missing files, forgotten configuration, and a dozen other things can happen.  Even a typo can cause pain, lost time, and lost business. This is a simple and repeatable thing to create, however it often gets overlooked because of time, resourcing, or budget.  An investment in automation will help you ensure successful go-lives and avoid rollbacks.

 

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

What is an Order Management system?

July 27, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

What is an Order Management system?

An Order Management system is like the cockpit of an aircraft. It provides a single view of data from multiple systems, only instead of flight systems it’s fulfillment systems.

Let’s use an airplane analogy. There are many systems on a plane: Flight controls, hydraulics, fuel, oxygen, navigation, communication systems, etc. They’re all critical to the safe delivery of passengers to their destination. But the cockpit is where the pilot can see input from all these systems, and tweak them to ensure an optimal flight experience.

An Order Management system is like the cockpit.

You have many order capture and fulfillment systems in your business: eCommerce, Point of Sale (POS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management System (WMS), etc. An Order Management system lets you see inventory across all locations (including inbound inventory), customer data, and order fulfillment status from all those systems in a single interface. It also lets you define and tweak fulfillment rules to provide an optimal customer experience.

Because it integrates data from multiple systems you get a single, real-time view of your customer orders and fulfillment operations which enables:

  • In-store pickup of online purchases
  • Ship to store
  • Ship from store
  • Real-time order status
  • Real-time returns processing, and
  • Promising against inbound inventory, not just on-hand inventory

It can also provide a mobile interface for store associates so they can locate out of stock items for a customer at another location, and provide better cross-sell and up-sell recommendations.

In short, an Order Management system is an essential component of modern omni-channel fulfillment operations.

 

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

5 Ways Grocery Can Compete with the Amazon/Whole Foods Market Merger

June 16, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

Amazon Whole Foods Market Merger Delivery

Competition in the Grocery eCommerce and fulfillment market will increase as grocers scramble to provide customers with more convenient ordering, pickup and delivery options.

G

rocery look out! Whole Foods Market will add over 430 stores to Amazon’s already superior fulfillment network. It will also provide Amazon with access to more grocery purchase history data than ever before. And you know they’ll use it well. So, what’s in it for Whole Foods?

A reduction in supply chain and distribution costs will let them drop prices (and maybe steal back some organic food market share from Kroger). And if they leverage even a fraction of Amazon’s eCommerce knowledge and experience, they will no doubt dominate the online grocery segment. But given Amazon’s commitment to continuous innovation, it won’t stop there.

Combine this with:

  • Amazon Dash button replenishment orders
  • Subscribe and Save discounts
  • Voice orders via Alexa, and
  • Private label products like the Amazon Elements line of supplements

The grocery industry is about to get a shakeup. So, what can you do to compete?

1. Buy Online, Pickup In-Store

Offer Buy Online, Pickup In-Store, sometimes called Click and Collect. Your customers receive all the benefits of same-day or next-day groceries without a delivery charge. Whole Foods Market may have 430 stores, but for now, many of you still have the local advantage. Use it to build loyalty while you can.

And if you really want to win them over, offer curbside pickup. Ideally a covered drive-through to protect customers and employees from the weather. Combine this with delightful customer service at pickup and your customers with young children or physical disabilities will rave about you.

2. Real-Time Substitutions

Your store associate is picking an order for pickup. An item is out of stock. Can they contact that customer immediately? Via text or phone? If so, they could offer (and get approval for) a substitute product in real-time. You save a sale, the customer is happy, and there is little extra work required by the store associate.

3. Dynamic Scheduling and Delivery Pricing Model

Grocery delivery can be expensive. But a dynamic model can help manage that cost. How? You can incentivize customers to select a non-peak delivery window by offering a lower delivery cost. This helps you manage the impact on your stores, and leverage off-hours labor for delivery orders.

4. Subscription based orders

With subscription orders, a single purchase decision equals many transactions. You only need to convince or entice the buyer once. And it doesn’t just benefit your top line, it can also provide customer insight that can be used to improve inventory forecasts.

5. Integrate your offline and online loyalty programs

Your customer data is a huge competitive advantage. Use it well. If you integrate your loyalty card data with your ecommerce platform, you can provide better online product recommendations and promotions.

In short, the time for change is now. Can you afford to be left behind? If you need help crafting your grocery fulfillment strategy, contact us today.

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

Can B2B Save B2C? A Change is Coming

May 23, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

Can B2B save B2C

Over 3000 store closures have been announced for early 2017 and more bankruptcies are expected.

Retail is in trouble. Bankruptcy filings and store closures abound. According to Bloomberg, as of April 24, 14 retailers had announced they were seeking court protection in 2017, including The Limited, Wet Seal, BCBG Max Azria. Gymboree and Rue21 are also in danger. And over 3000 store closures have been announced for early 2017 according to Business Insider.

It’s not surprising given the U.S. has so much retail space. Business Insider recently noted that “The US has 23.5 square feet of retail space per person, compared with 16.4 square feet in Canada and 11.1 square feet in Australia, the next two countries with the most retail space per capita.”

Clearly something needs to change.

Meanwhile online sales continue to grow. But can they grow fast enough? Is B2C enough? Some retailers are hedging their bets.

Staples
While Staples revenue has always been dominated by B2B sales, they’ve typically marketed to consumers. However, their most recent marketing campaign, “Staples – It’s Pro Time”, is clearly designed to boost the profile of their business division according to Retail Wire.

Lowe’s
Lowe’s has long served contractors, but the recent announcement of the acquisition of Maintenance Supply Headquarters, in addition to the November 2016 purchase of Central Wholesalers, both distributors of Maintenance/Repair/Operations (MRO) products, indicates a renewed focus on the professional contractor market.

J.C. Penney
Meanwhile, J.C. Penney CEO, Marvin Ellison (formerly at Home Depot), is also betting on B2B. Targeting the hospitality industry, they will sell bulk linens, towels and appliances directly to hotel operators and property management companies through a new B2B interface that allows for typical B2B purchase options including volume pricing, commercial credit, and tax exemptions.

The B2B Opportunity
Will J.C. Penney craft deals with hotels whereby customers can order in-room soft goods and appliances from their hotel room and have them shipped to home? Will other retailers look for opportunities to enter the B2B market? Will fashion apparel retailers enter the business uniform market? Only time will tell. But retailers who want to enter the B2B market will need to adjust their model.

B2B is different to B2C. A business customer will need a company account and multiple users associated with that account (procurement, accounts payable, etc.). After login to an online store, they’ll want to see bulk pricing, or custom pricing that reflects pre-negotiated discounts. And they may require support for purchase orders and net terms. But while these changes require adjustment, the payoff could be large. Or in the case of some retailers the difference between bankruptcy and survival.

Filed under: Blog, Supply Chain

5 ways to Achieve a Positive ROI with Order Management (for Retailers)

May 17, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

Positive ROI on Order Management

“We’re out of stock at the moment, but I can ship it to your home.”  – Enabling store associates to recover from out of stocks is one of 5 great ways to recoup your Order Management investment. 

T

he heart of any omni-channel strategy is order management. But, implementing an omni-channel strategy designed to meet the customer’s expectations while making money can be a challenge. The customer continues to demand more for less. According to a recent PwC and JDA Software survey, only 10% of retail CEOs say they are able to make a profit while fulfilling omni-channel demand (you can read more here). Where is the Return on Investment (ROI)?

Here are 5 ways a retailer can achieve a positive ROI with Order Management:

1. Save the Sale

Regardless of the retailer, out of stock inventory is always an issue. An automated capability to locate, reserve, fulfill and restock inventory, not only increases revenue for lost sales, but increases customer loyalty. As retailers add channels the placement of inventory becomes more difficult. Predicting supply and demand across different channels regardless of the planning and allocation tool is a huge challenge. These issues can be mitigated when an associate can find the merchandise, and reserve it, or have it delivered to the customer, regardless of where the transaction originated. The inventory visibility by location is one of the greatest attributes of order management. Fulfilling from an overstocked store reduces markdowns and increases revenue.

2. Buy Online and Ship to Store (BOSTS)

Many companies, such as Walmart, take orders online and ship the merchandise to the store for pickup. Having the customer visit the store for pickup results in an additional 25-35% increase in the purchase. This revenue increase, along with a transportation decrease (as the merchandise can be shipped on the usual DC-to-store truck), results in a strong ROI. With an order management solution, it is possible to aggregate store replenishment inventory with online orders. At the DC, the customer pickup order can be clearly marked and identified for staging versus store stock.

3. Buy Online and Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)

In many cases, the customer wants to see or try on their merchandise before completing the transaction. But, they don’t want to make the trip to the store unless the item of interest is available in store. CEOs surveyed said 51% of their companies plans to allow customers to buy online and pick up in-store in 2017, up from 47% last year. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, omni-channel shoppers who engage with retailers through online and offline channels spend 4% more, on average, every time they visit a brick-and-mortar store, and spend 10% more when shopping online. Order management provides the tool to orchestrate the demand in the store for pickup. This capability adds fulfillment flexibility while leveraging store inventory driving up return on assets.

4. Buy Online and Return In-Store (BORIS)

On average retailers have an 8% return rate. Retailers selling shoes, apparel, and electronics have anywhere from 10-17% rate.  In the PwC and JDA survey, 75% of respondents said their online operating costs are increasing because of costs related to omni-channel returns.  And 77%% said customer returns were eroding profits. Since customers expect free returns, profits can be diminished by 10-20% per year. Order management provides the store with customer history so that the associate knows the customer. A good associate can turn a negative experience into a positive one by offering the customer a complementary item to something they may already own. They also can reduce fraud by having a complete view of the customer’s transaction.

5. Buy Online and Ship from Store (BOSFS)

Many retailers are looking to use their stores to compete against Amazon. Their stores have become fulfillment centers or mini distribution centers for online orders. This process is an extension to the BOPIS process as an associate not only picks the merchandise, but they also ship it to the customer. Order management is the tool that provides the capability to pick, process, confirm the order for payment. The store uses order management much like a distribution center would use a warehouse management solution. But, it goes one step further by providing complete access and visibility to the order status. The customer knows what is happening at all times. BOSFS is a transportation savings tool by having the stores closest to the customer fulfill rather than paying shipping from the distribution center.

Using order management for these 5 business models, delivers ROI by having inventory visibility, leverage inventory, fulfill profitably, increase revenue and customer loyalty, and reduce shipping costs.

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

7 Signs You Need an Order Management System

May 12, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

7 signs you need an order management system

High inventory carrying costs can be offset by Ship from Store, which lets you leverage inventory across all your locations, but first you need complete inventory visibility.

S

uccess starts with the right tools to enable your business to grow and thrive. Your eCommerce platform lets you take orders online.  An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system helps you manage inventory. Your Warehouse Management System (WMS) lets you manage warehouse tasks efficiently. And if you have retail stores, a Point of Sale (POS) system powers your checkout. So what’s missing?

The system that ties them all together. Not just by joining them (like an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)) but an intelligent system that optimizes every order. One that lets you provide a superior customer experience so you can delight your customers and inspire repeat purchases. It’s an order management system. Let ‘s look at 7 signs you might need one…

1. Multiple Inventory Locations

Warehouses, stores, third party logistics companies. You could have inventory in many places. But most systems aren’t designed to track inventory across locations. Luckily an order management system excels at this task. It’s designed to integrate with all your other systems and provide you with a single view of inventory across all your locations.

2. In-Store Return of Online Orders is Inefficient or Not Offered

If you have physical stores and an online store, this is key. If you let your customers return online purchases in store, you have an opportunity to convert the return into an exchange. Or sell them something else. It’s a great way to offset the cost of returns. But only if the process is easy and convenient.

3. Unable to Recover from Out of Stocks

Are your stores ever out of stock? That’s lost revenue. But what if your store employees could locate that out of stock item elsewhere? It could be in another store or in a warehouse. Chances are, if you can find it, and either reserve it for your customer or ship it to them, chances are you can save the sale.

4. Inefficient Delivery

If you’re struggling with delivery costs or speed, order management can help. As online orders come in, it routes them to the most optimal location. If speed is important it sends the order to the closest location to the customer (and can enable Ship from Store). If delivery cost is a concern, it routes the order via the cheapest method.

5. High Inventory Carrying Costs

If you can reduce the capital tied up in inventory it can be used for other growth initiatives. There are two ways Order Management can help. It can enable Ship from Store, so you can leverage store inventory to fulfill online orders. Or route orders directly to drop ship vendors so you eliminate inventory handling costs as well. You define the business rules, then Order Management automatically sources inventory from the location with the most inventory or slowest moving inventory. This can also help you minimize markdowns. What does that mean?

6. Too Many Markdowns

Say you get an online order for a shirt. The shirt is generally very popular. But in one store sales are low, which typically means you’ll have to mark it down to move the inventory. But an order management system is smart. Instead of routing the online order to your warehouse, it sends the order to the store with excess inventory. Which means less markdowns.

7. Global Expansion

As you expand globally the ability to route orders from cheapest or fastest location, or from the location that provides the fastest route through customs, is essential. An Order Management system houses the business rules that enable this to happen as each order is placed.

If inventory visibility, omnichannel commerce, or global expansion are part of your growth strategy, let’s talk. We’ll share case studies and consumer data to help you build a business case for Order Management.

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain

GDPR Compliance and IBM Sterling Order Management System (IBM OMS)

May 9, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

GDPR Sterling Order Management Implications

The ability to completely erase customer data across all systems is just one of many GDPR compliance considerations.

M

ay 25, 2018 is the enforcement date for the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation. Given that penalties could be 10-20 million euros or 2-4% of global revenue (whichever is higher), any company that sells to, or otherwise processes the personal data of EU citizens, needs to ensure compliance.

Fortunately, IBM OMS is structured in a way that provides many compliance options. Depending on how your organization’s Data Protection Officer decides to comply with GDPR (and any other data protection obligations), you may want to consider the following:

Hosting  & Deployment

  • Move your IBM OMS instance to a hosting provider that is GDPR compliant and allows you to choose whether your data is stored in the EU
  • Host the IBM OMS database shard containing EU customer data at a GDPR compliant hosting company or a host located solely within a GDPR recognized country
  • US based companies may choose to self-certify for the Privacy Shield Framework and self-host IBM OMS

User Authentication

  • Use a User Authentication tool that enforces strong security protocols, such as Active Directory

Integrations

  • Ensure that any updates to your customer master are propagated to IBM OMS quickly and correctly
  • Ensure that any customer data updates (including deletion) are pushed to other applications (e.g, eCommerce, email marketing, etc.) and third party vendors (drop shippers, 3PLs, etc.)

3rd Party Vendors

  • Develop a notification trigger that automatically sends customer data updates or deletions to 3rd parties with whom you’ve shared your customer data
  • Review all contracts with 3PLs and drop shippers to ensure they update or delete your customer data as necessary

Other

  • Develop a way to track whether a person is an EU citizen and display this information to Call Center representatives
  • Develop a mechanism for a System Administrator or Call Center representative to easily erase all personal and transactional data so you can comply with requests within one month
  • Develop a mechanism to easily export individual customer data (including transaction data) into a structured, commonly used, and machine readable form, such as CSV, either for self-service download from a web site, or generation and email by a call center representative (for data portability compliance)

Start Today

Time is short. With the deadline less than year away, and the risk of penalties is high, you need to act now so you’ll have enough time to:

  • Prepare your systems
  • Update vendor contracts
  • Develop new business processes
  • Train your employees

With deep expertise in IBM OMS, global deployment management, and complex system integrations, Bridge solutions Group is uniquely positioned to assist you.

Contact Us to learn more.

Filed under: Blog, Supply Chain

Is your agency making promises your brand can’t keep?

May 3, 2017 by The Bridge Solutions Group Team

Late delivery breaks promises

A late delivery damages brand trust. How well do you fulfill orders?

Each year brands spend billions of dollars to entice you to interact with their brand. Armed with a ‘brand goal’ or ‘key consumer insight’, agencies invent unique ways to inspire consumer interaction. Often, they succeed. Brand engagement rises. But can you keep the promises they make? Keep the brand momentum going? Can you deliver well? Is it important?

You bet. In 2016 IBM surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers on their retail expectations. Results included:

  • 59% of customers in their 20s are likely or very likely to not shop with you again if they experience a delayed delivery
  • 79% of consumers want easy pickup of online purchases
  • 71% of 13-39 year olds want to skip the checkout line
  • 63% of 13-39 year olds say Same Day Delivery is important when choosing where to shop
  • 96% of consumers say that performance consistency is essential for maintaining trust

The lesson? Protect your brand. Keep your promises. Fulfill orders well.

If you’d like to learn more about fulfillment preferences for your target demographic, schedule a briefing today.

Filed under: Blog, Omnichannel, Supply Chain