This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
Building a Foundation for New Payment Models The rise in new payment models is one of the most promising and exciting parts of being a retailer today. The vastness of opportunity is limited only by the ability to respond to it appropriately. From the rise in social commerce buy buttons to the “checkout-free” store models being ushered in by Amazon Go and Walmart Scan & Go. Consumers are taking advantage of friction-free processes and technology to search for, buy, and attain consumer goods more easily than ever. But this easing of the product acquisition process for the consumer also brings new challenges for retailers. As well as operations managers in charge of creating efficient fulfillment processes. The frustration of efficiently managing online and in-store orders has started to subside. Retailers begin to understand how to leverage stores, consolidate online orders and balance free shipping and returns with bottom-line realities. But the industry is by no means as good at these processes as they need to be. And now these new payment models are bringing additional complexity into the mix. How can retailers make fulfillment as convenient as the browsing or transaction part? Especially as those parts of the business continue to evolve at breakneck speed? How can stores gain more flexibility in fulfillment by allowing shoppers to scan an item and walk out the door? It all starts by coming back to the foundational elements that need to be in place that allow you to handle any consumer request, at a reasonable cost to you, no matter what changes in demand come down the road.
Give the People What They Want
As consumers find new ways to search and buy goods, it’s up to each retailer to determine the value of being present on that channel. Amazon leads the world in ecommerce sales, but that doesn’t mean every brand or retailer wants to leverage their visibility engine. Similarly, just because consumers are using Twitter to buy goods, doesn’t make it a channel where everyone needs to be present. But when you find a new channel that does strike you as one your consumer market will or does use regularly, and would be compelled to use to shop from you, you’ll need to consider how they’ll get the goods they want. Social commerce only works well if orders are simple and can be distributed in a short timeframe. You’ll have to have the operational and technical capabilities to guarantee fast shipping, without a lot of hassle, in order to have the channel investment pay off.
It All Starts in Real Time
One of the foundational elements of omni-channel operations are to always have accurate, real-time inventory visibility across the organization. It’s essential for anything you want to do from an operational flexibility standpoint. Want to offer buy online, pick up in store? Great idea, we’re on board. But how can you be sure the customer will find the item there when they show up? How can you guarantee this process to be faster than standard delivery times? You can’t. Unless you know exactly where all items are at all times. And are able to automatically inform your staff and your customers about it up front. Bringing these lessons to a Scan & Go scenario makes sense if you envision that store looking like an IKEA showroom. However, instead of writing down numbers as you go, you scan as you shop and purchase the items using banking information stored in your mobile wallet. With the right fulfillment and inventory visibility infrastructure, you can choose to have your purchased items ready when you get to the exit or select shipping to your home. And whereas IKEA saves money on not paying pickers, you could save money by limiting on-site inventory and increase revenues by catering to the consumer need for convenience and flexibility. But if you don’t know where the products are, right now, you can’t offer that.
The Future is Flexible
When preparing your fulfillment infrastructure for the unknown future of consumer expectations and payment models, remember that the foundational requirements of omni-channel retail will remain the same. Engrain customer choice and operational agility at the core of your business strategy, and become masters of real-time inventory visibility. And no matter what expectation changes come down the line, you’ll have the tools you need to adapt to them. Related: