One hour deliveries, two day turn-arounds for Christmas Eve arrival and 60 second collections are just some of the fulfilment promises made by the likes of Amazon, Argos and Not On The High Street in the run up to Christmas 2016.
Despite their best efforts to keep up with consumer demand, these retailers could be setting a dangerous president for those smaller brands who are yet to catch on technologically, warns Ian Tomlinson of IT solution provider, Retail Store.
Tomlinson, who invented the cloud-based retail platform 15 years ago, has been working with a wave of retailers to effectively adopt and implement omni-channel retail management software strategies. “Things are moving at an extremely fast pace, quicker than most retailer’s fulfilment and warehousing systems can keep up with. We know to keep up we can enable them to see across channels and use inventory from one channel to serve customers in another, through cloud technology and a single platform,” he says.
“Retailers who have not already migrated away from separated, legacy systems, will need to re-design their operations and systems around consumers, working to provide them with new flows of real time information, products, transactions and experience. It’s the only way to survive.”
In the run up to Christmas, it is now more apparent than ever that British consumers want fast, free and convenient delivery and unless retailers can adapt to these new and spiralling expectations set by the likes of Amazon, many may face a tough future, he adds.
With the likes of Sainsbury’s recently buying Argos as part of its efforts to fight back the Amazon threat, it has also developed an app called Chop Chop, through which shoppers can order up to 20 items to be delivered from a local store in South-West London within just an hour.
However many smaller and less established retailers looking to make their own mark in this increasingly impatient market can find their gap by shifting their old systems to an omni-channel solution, like Retail Store, says Tomlinson.
“Whilst establishing strong courier partnerships is essential, to meet customer expectations for a seamless omni-channel experience, retailers must also have a centralised inventory, order processing and fulfilment capabilities coupled with intelligent sourcing and workforce management to execute flexible fulfilment strategies in the most efficient and cost effective manner.
“And the benefits go way beyond the customer experience to impact on the gross profit and HR efficiency by enabling retailers to use business intelligence reporting to prioritise and allocate labour and effectively pick and ship orders.”
Ian said cash flow would also be improved as stock and warehousing could be accurately forecast across the entire organisation through predictive sales and suggestive purchase ordering through to optimisation of all warehousing and merchandising.
He adds: “Retailers who have redesigned and rolled out customer centric systems and processes for speed, convenience and omni-channel customer experience, will be the winners of Christmas 2016 and beyond.”