According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports, the proportion of online retail decreased in March 2021 to 34.7%, down from 36.2% in February 2021 but still remains far higher than the 23.1% reported in March 2020. There are numerous factors at play here. Many organisations in retail may not yet realise that they are now working in a technical organisation – and that now is the time to get up to speed with all the latest technology as an enabler for future growth. To provide the right customer expectations, eCommerce is now reliant on technology for the first time. A Warehouse Management System handles many functions that enable these movements, including inventory tracking, picking, receiving and putaway.
Of course, the global pandemic has accelerated eCommerce growth, assisted by lockdowns and access to 24/7 internet sites. Retailers now need to evolve their business and operations to maintain market share, drive customer loyalty and to scale up and integrate their operations with suppliers, warehouses, and the logistics sector.
Read on to discover three ways that modern technology partners can help you with these operational challenges.
1. The rise of Omni-channel
eCommerce is now a multi-channel, multi-touchpoint experience for consumers. They don’t see separate channels; they see one brand. They do not accept a lack of detail on where their products are in the order process. They want clear, detailed information: an email or text to confirm their order has been placed. They may in fact call you if this is not received, especially if a payment has been made. In fact, did you know, 45% of customers state that if delivery or pick up exceeds 2 days, they will order elsewhere? *
- to know where their products are in the process.
- to know when they have left the depot, been shipped and are on their way.
- an accurate time for delivery.
- options to leave the package with a neighbour/safe place or change the delivery day if their circumstances change.
- a photo of the delivery to prove it was delivered, should there be any disputes.
- compensation if it is not delivered when expected.
- to return items, free of change, with a no hassle no quibble quick refund.
- notification of the refund and when it will be paid.
All this data needs to get into the hands of the right employees, at the right time and into the right systems.
If we imagine the flow of data, these integrated systems and stages of the purchase process highlight the importance of warehouse operatives receiving online purchase requests and orders in real-time on their handheld devices. Mobile devices facilitate the scanning of products and the effective use of fulfilment forms to reduce errors and increase worker productivity. The use of the camera on the handheld allows for proof of picking and packing to be sent to the order fulfilment team. The scanning facility enables data on the package to be shared with the Shipping Team, or even the Customer Services Team, so that updates can be communicate
2. The rise of click and collect
Did you know that 63% of users want the retail experience to be easier and automated? That 53% are already frustrated by shipping, delivery and returns experiences? * Offering a click and collect solution is an enhanced way to navigate through the technical landscape you are trying to build or to aspire to, whilst keeping your customers coming into your store for other ‘impulse’ purchases.
Your present and future customers are savvy, eco-friendly and time poor. Customers who want to stay loyal to your brand but are not able to place an order online via an approved secure payment method means you could expect to see a drop of 32% in potential revenue as 32% are unwilling to sacrifice personal data security to improve their in-store experience*.
Click and collect has been the lifeline of many large and small retailers unable to offer a full delivery service with integrated multi-channel, omni-channel connectivity. Click and collect enables retailers to accommodate a new level of data integration and order fulfilment by offering customers heightened flexibility and choice with enhanced data integration to their warehouses, suppliers, and fulfilment centres, often at a lower carbon footprint. This also allows them to combat competition from mainstream retailers.
Negating the need for delivery slots and the complexities of the Last Mile means stores can assign online orders to a simple SMS and email automation with no interruption to their usual in-store deliveries from a central depot. Of course, using the right handheld computer with the latest forms for correct data capture and compliance is still key to this entire process to reduce or eliminate picking and packing errors as well as to ensure orders are not missed, SLAs are met, and compliance is followed throughout the process. The use of standardised processes and forms needs to be centrally managed, updated and pushed out to all relevant devices, with the correct forms.
3. Organisational collaborations
Other ways to compete and retain customers is to collaborate with the delivery and fulfilment experts who have a proficient and well-respected online payment and delivery fulfilment. This partnership adds all the benefits to your brand without adding any new layers of complexity to your organisation’s structure. This can be managed via a reduced ‘menu’ of products available through the assignment of inventory to ‘more frequently purchased’ products. Or it can be in response to new legislation and compliance regulations.
Reverse Logistic processes are becoming more important with the rise in eCommerce. SLAs, alongside other key measurements to improve customer satisfaction and worker productivity, are high on the agenda. In a survey of 250 senior Supply Chain and Distribution Managers, organisations could save almost 3000 worker hours if processes were made more efficient. 79% of those surveyed say they need to find cost savings of which the majority need to save between 10 to 30%. *
A cloud WMS solution can assist in collecting all the data you need for the above and it can also help ensure that goods and materials move through warehouses in the most efficient and cost-effective way. A WMS handles many functions that enable these movements, including inventory tracking, picking, receiving and putaway.
Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.
Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.
ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.
- Statistics received from SOTI’s From Bricks to Clicks: The State of Mobility in Retail 2021 Report
- M&S Press Release: M&S And Ocado Bringing The Best Together
- Unlocking Hidden Cost in the Distribution Center: http://country.honeywellaidc.com/CatalogDocuments/unlocking-hidden-costs-distribution-center-research-paper.pdf