Automating the Retail Worth Chain: Step-by-Step
If a supplier’s business could be described in a single word, it would have to be COMPLEX. No matter your company’s size or product type, you need to manage (simply) more. The retail value chain is ripe for automation, but let’s start with a game before we get into that.
Calculating Your Retail Complexity Score
Step 1: Add up the retail channels you serve and the trading partners. Include every retailer, every marketplace, every direct-to-consumer site, catalog, etc.
Step 2: Add up the number of business systems you use. Include your ERP or accounting system, OMS, PIM, TMS, WMS, and any others. (Don’t include any systems already integrated with every channel.)
Step 3: Multiply the totals from Steps 1 and 2 to find your retail complexity score.
Step 4: Grab an energy drink. No matter your retail complexity score in Step 3, it is only going to get worse unless you read on.
When a Retail Value Chain Works in Concert
Most of you likely scored at least 20 points and some of you are likely in the hundreds. The good news is the solution is the same, just at a different scale.
Your systems and channels need to work together seamlessly to deliver the customer experience we all expect. They must become integrated, hands-free and accessible.
Here are a few examples of how a well-orchestrated, connected value chain looks:
- Available inventory is broadcasted to multiple shipping solutions by you or your 3PL across all locations and updated in real time. You predictably ship any order profitably and fulfill any SLAs or contracted commitments (oops, it looks like we need to add another data source).
- Shipping solutions, such as ShipStation, have inventory level insight to answer whether you can commit to and fulfill an order
- Once the product is allocated and leaves on a truck, inventory levels are updated and broadcast to each of your order channels
- Not every order channel has the same priority. Smart allocation capabilities let you customize available inventory levels
- The outcome is customer confidence whether that is the end consumer via your e-commerce store or drop-ship model, or a wholesale merchant
- Any order from any channel updates your accounting or ERP solution for accurate financial reconciliation and billing.
- Product details and item attributes are digitally managed across all order channels and integrated into an item management system (IMS) when this season’s latest items launch. This information is published to all sales channels, checked for pricing and information compliance, and updated with the broadcasted inventory details.
In a nutshell, there is not a single system or channel that should operate in a silo. Omnichannel retail demands an automated value chain where systems speak to one another and share the data needed to get business done, all without any intervention.