eStar chief product officer Tony Davis details the ways retailers need to be prepared for peak trading.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…with the peak trading season in full swing, retailers are once again anticipating record sales across the period.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are all triggers for growth, but with many regions across Australia and New Zealand still slowly easing out of lockdown, online sales are set to continue the remarkable growth trajectory we have witnessed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some retailers the online sales component of their business has been the saviour as they continue to navigate the challenges and uncertainties delivered by COVID.
But what effect does this exponential growth in online sales have on the rest of your business?
It certainly presents challenges, in particular, the ability to manage and deliver goods to meet ever increasing consumer expectations around transparency and delivery of online orders.
Traditionally, order management systems (OMS) may have been considered secondary to the front-end sales engine of eCommerce solutions.
However, they are now at the forefront of facilitating scalable fulfilment efficiencies and delivering positive customer experiences.
As a result, an increasing number of retailers are looking to implement a specialised OMS to streamline their fulfilment operations and provide a competitive advantage.
In fact, global research company IHL is predicting the OMS market to grow by 63% through to 2023, resulting in a market size of more than $1.15 billion USD.
During peak sales periods when order volumes intensify and the complexity of delivery increases, your OMS needs the capability to scale with your business.
Reliability and performance, combined with flexibility for growth, is key.
Despite the easing of lockdowns, restrictions on in-store and regional movements continue to impact consumer buying behaviours.
Some may wish to avoid the maddening crowds and traditionally long queues of the Christmas rush and continue with the convenience of shopping online.
Consumers want choice as part of their online journey, especially during times of high demand and restricted supply.
A smart OMS gives retailers a global view of their inventory and the flexibility to offer consumers access to all goods, regardless of whether the item is stored at a distribution centre, warehouse, or within the store network.
Providing consumers choice on how their goods are delivered is just as important, including home delivery, click and collect, and the ability to easily return items if required.
Consumers are no longer satisfied with the click and wait approach to online shopping.
Visibility of order status, delivery expectations and regular notifications are of high importance.
These expectations and demands only intensify in the lead up to Christmas as consumers seek comfort that their online purchases will reach the intended party in time for the big day.
For retail fulfilment teams, peak trading, and the ensuing increase in order volumes, places increasing pressure on fulfilment processes and personnel.
Intelligent order routing in your OMS can alleviate this pressure by directing orders to the most appropriate dispatch point for fulfilment.
This in turn helps to smooth the load across the dispatch network and ultimately increase the ability to deliver orders in full, on time (DIFOT), and in the most cost-effective manner.
Did someone say data?
Dashboards that provide insights into how your dispatch networks are performing over peak periods can help fulfilment teams to identify potential chokepoints, enabling real time business decisions to help streamline your fulfilment operations when demand is high.
High order volumes can also affect speed and accuracy during the pick, pack, and dispatch process.
OMS functionality such as digital picking can help reduce the potential for human error during these times, providing fulfilment teams with tools that ultimately make their jobs easier and more efficient.
While the peak trading period can be a time of heightened stress for retailers, an OMS configured to align with your business needs should provide peace of mind that as your business grows, the systems and processes are in place to grow with it.
A sophisticated OMS provides the tools that enables fulfilment teams to operate to the best of their ability and ultimately deliver outcomes that will truly delight your customers.
Is your order management system geared up to handle the heat this summer?