Tackling the 'Amazon Effect' head on
The e-commerce giant that is Amazon, continues to dominate the retail landscape and disrupt what was once upon a time a pretty straightforward way of doing business.
Manufacturers made goods and sold them to retailers, such as Walmart and Costco, to sell on their behalf from brick-and-mortar stores. Warehouses were simple places too: storing, shipping and tracking goods was a tried and tested formula.
But how quickly that has all changed. The Amazon Effect has taken hold and changed the way business is done forever. As consumers, convenience is everything and we have adopted the world of e-commerce like ducks to water. We hate to wait too and our expectations for fulfillment, from order to delivery, are rising by the day. This is being fueled by Amazon, who recently raised the bar even higher by pledging to fulfill orders within a one-day delivery window.
In order to compete, more and more enterprises are stepping out of their comfort zones and entering the business to consumer (B2C) arena, something that under five years ago would have been unheard of. They are seeking ways in which they can sell direct to consumers and influence their buying habits through a comprehensive e-commerce strategy.
But what does this mean for warehouse management? It is no longer the business ‘lackey’ but a sophisticated landscape that if not loved and invested in properly, can make or break a business or brand reputation.
A comprehensive and intuitive warehouse management system, such as SnapFulfil, goes beyond the remit of warehouse, logistics and IT departments and its importance crosses into previously unchartered territory, like feeding Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing and customer service applications.
Why? Because businesses are waking up to the value of the customer data trail they can harvest and the loyalty they can harness through having a single customer view, which means understanding each customers’ buying journey from start to end and beyond. And fulfillment is part and parcel of that. Therefore, having access to reliable, real-time data from a WMS, supports these departments and helps them shape their e-commerce strategy.
A good example is a SnapFulfil customer who was frustrated by the lack of data they could access through their previous WMS. As a young enterprise, they wanted to identify the buying habits and fulfillment patterns of their customers in order to track trends and get an understanding of other categories they should be diving into. Through SnapFulfil, they quickly established their target market wasn’t country-wide but in fact focused on a specific region, that had a unique buying pattern and have been able to adapt their business proposition accordingly.
For businesses such as this, the key is to not be intimidated by the Amazon Effect but to embrace the brave new world of e-commerce by being adaptable. Very few retailers have access to the vast funds to which Amazon is privy to invest in technology.
Therefore, for small-to mid-size retailers determining what such a disruptive force means for their operations, keeping adaptability front-of-mind – even without seven or eight figure investments in new technology – is critical.
At SnapFulfil we are working with customers to help them achieve their B2C ambitions in terms of data and warehouse planning to optimize space and resource, in order to deliver a seamless fulfillment experience, which is so critical to the overall experience.
There are many misconceptions out there that you have to spend hundreds and thousands, if not millions of dollars in order to achieve your fulfillment ambitions. But this is not so.
An industry leading cloud-based WMS system, such as SnapFulfil, has flexibility built in and can meet the changing needs of the modern retail market without being time consuming (it can be up and running in just 45 days) and expensive to set in motion, or difficult to reconfigure.
It is not only intuitive and scalable, it also has the capacity to adapt and evolve with customer service innovations that the top-tier of retailers are repeatedly introducing, such as distributed order management, waveless and priority based order processing and optimal returns processing.
Moreover, it uses rich functionality and real time management software to help retailers optimize inventory, space and labor in the warehouse. Users typically benefit from efficiency and productivity improvements up to 30%, which basically translates into the ability to do more for less with the same resources.
So, while the retail landscape is constantly changing, it’s those businesses who embrace the brave new world and make smart technology investments – without a large capital outlay investment up front or costly infrastructure changes – who will reap the benefits.