The odds are that most merchants strained their operations during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the entire holiday season. The growing number of distal distribution channels is certainly a contributing factor. Now is a great time for merchants to do a root cause analysis of any sub-optimal performance they may have experienced, to prepare for 2016. January is the time to do a post-mortem of holiday season performance, because as the year progresses people are apt to forget glitches experienced during peak sales seasons.
Merchants should take a particular look at how long it took to get current with Black Friday or Cyber Monday orders. When orders came in, how long did it take to get the products into consumers’ hands? Were there shipping delays? Did this impact your customer service department, with customers constantly calling in to ask “Where’s my order?” How much did shipping upgrades cost when merchants addressed shipping issues? UPS and FedEx did drop the ball on some shipping this year and orders arrived late, but customers don’t blame the shippers. They blame the merchants!
Was inventory and stock outage a concern? Was the supply chain running optimally, with suppliers meeting promised lead times? Were merchants able to keep their most profitable items available, or did they oversell in differing channels, resulting in merchant-cancelled orders?
What You May Need Is an Upgrade to You Order Management System
A robust order management system is critically important during the holidays, and year round in fact. It can actually alleviate many of the concerns raised above, as well as provide a 360-degree view of the customer, including a history of all previous interactions with a given customer. Sales, reporting, analytics, order entry and processing, purchasing, receiving, inventory management fulfillment, customer service and product catalog management can all be handled within a robust order management system.
The master data within such a system can be shared across all distribution channels in real time, alleviating channel conflicts leading to stock outages or merchant-cancelled orders. Norman Camera, a GoECart client, is a perfect example of a retailer with an order management system that allows it to keep inventory levels low, while still fulfilling orders across many distribution channels.
An order management system should be able to allow retailers fulfill orders for any distribution channel, from the inventory earmarked for any other channel, including Amazon FBA. This is the sort of performance you can receive from the order management system within a true unified commerce platform. Being able to share and send information in real time to all your distal touchpoints just makes good sense, for 2016, because it helps you create a positive customer experience in whatever channel your target markets choose to access your products through.
Being able to combine data points such as customer history and preferences, availability of stock to fulfill and ship orders across channels in a manner that’s transparent to the customer can, and should, be achieved within a within a true unified commerce platform for 2016.