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Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies

by Helen J. Wolf
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The race to shorten click-to-customer cycle times is arguably the biggest challenge facing today’s retailers operating in an omnichannel environment. However, speed of delivery without the accuracy of execution is the real deal breaker for consumers who expect their goods to arrive quickly and get what they ordered.

Initiating a digital-first, omnichannel process through smart technology solutions is necessary to achieve accurate and fast execution of orders.

Below are three key areas to balance the challenge of promising orders in a world where exceptional customer service is paramount.

Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies

Consumers expect speed, flexibility, and control.

An efficient flow of retail operations requires full visibility of shipments, including control over how, when, and where goods are delivered. The consumerization of supply chains is in full swing, with buyers increasingly expecting the same level of visibility whether a brand is a B2B or B2C label.

Before consumers decide to buy something, they want to know if stock is available to fulfill their order and when it can be delivered.

Once the order is placed, consumers want to stay in control by checking the ruling, adding or removing items, and having the ability to change a delivery address or method without having to spend hours talking to a call center agent.

The pandemic has shown us that customers like having different options, and it is increasingly important that brands provide them with just that. Whether home delivery, office delivery, parcel pick-up, or click-and-collect, brands need the flexibility and flexibility within their supply chains to meet these delivery requirements.

The 360-degree view of customers

Traditional point of sale (POS) systems are often too inflexible to accommodate the new capabilities needed for new online-to-offline shopping journeys, such as curbside pick-up or accurate two-way customer communication.

Unified commerce in 2022 means not only one overview of stock and orders but also of customers. Today, transactions equate to orders plus sales, which means that retailers must increasingly be able to seamlessly process purchases that combine orders and sales from brick-and-mortar and online stores and warehouse transactions.

This trend is having a profound and transformational impact on legacy retail systems, while future-proofing POS and order management technology is at the center of the intersection of speed, accuracy, and the pursuit of an exceptional customer experience.

Minimizing the number of places where data is processed, supported by centralized customer and inventory visibility, is one of the first steps to future-proof store systems and a retailer’s ability to extend the customer experience beyond the transaction.

Building a customer-centric roadmap that efficiently pays off existing technical debt, often built over decades, is key to ushering in a cloud-native, microservices-based retail future.

Moving from Placement Theory to Fulfillment Theory

Speed ​​does not automatically lead to success when it comes to retail. Instead, it must be harnessed and monitored. When it comes to omnichannel retail fulfillment, a reverse engineering approach is often the best way to meet the challenge, starting at the end of the consumer journey and working back through the processes to the existing software architecture that underlies it.

By doing this in this way, when there are rapid consumer shifts, supply chain networks, in-store systems, and people will have a strong IT foundation, enabling them to speed up, slow down and realign with minimal impact, regardless of the channel.

Retailers must rethink their traditional ideas of assets and operations or speed and delivery. It’s no longer just a matter of digital versus physical or even rate versus precision – but instead, it’s about how a brand can use its entire network, as well as all of its available inventory and channels, to deliver that truly remarkable customer journey.

The key is not to get distracted by the intricacies of order placement but to focus on order fulfillment – which can be achieved through modern, future-proof store technology solutions.

Micro-fulfillment helps increase supply chain efficiency.

As e-commerce and store-to-door delivery continue to grow, many retailers struggle to profit from selling online. The challenges of the past two years have accelerated e-commerce adoption and technological progress, forcing companies to re-evaluate traditional models and forcing many to rethink the relationships between retailers, disruptive start-ups, and automation, setting the stage for a radical shake-up of fulfillment strategies. Micro fulfillment is one of these fulfillment strategies and one of the most cost-effective trends that retailers and supply chains are adopting. Micro-fulfillment means moving from large single DCs to smaller, more local, and convenient hubs.

By speeding up the fulfillment process, micro-fulfillment enables brands to get goods to their customers quickly; while providing convenient collection points for consumers. With this kind of smart fulfillment method, retailers can get their interests to consumers faster, cheaper, and more efficiently.

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