Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

“I can see clearly now”…true visibility….do you have it?

It seems so obvious, the ability to ‘see’, to be able to truly know where your inventory is at all times and when you can promise it to a customer … we all talk about ‘single view’, it’s a no brainer. But when push comes to shove that view is by no means ‘single’ and often times it’s not even real-time.

A recent 3rd party survey claimed that 57% of retailers in the UK have a single view of inventory, but our own findings across the Globe tell a very different story. While 81% of retailers in The Netherlands are confident in their view of stock, here in the UK only 21% of retailers are confident in the accuracy of that ‘single view’ and in Australia, 52% of consumers claim to have been let down by false claims of availability by the retailer.

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So how important is this in today’s omni-channel world? Can a modern day retailer survive with that cobbled together, back of the envelope, finger in the air, ‘it’s due this week’ type of model?

My take is absolutely ‘no way’.

As a consumer I want to know when and where I can collect or take delivery of my purchases. If I’m online and they can’t confirm a clear date then I’m outta there … shopping cart abandonment immediately … if I’m in the shop and the assistant tells me it’s due in but they won’t know until it gets there, I flee for the hills … and more often than not I don’t bother going back.

It’s simply not good enough and I’m savvy enough to know that someone out there will have what I need and they’ll be able to give it to me now.

And I’m not alone, in fact I’m in the majority, with more than 80% of consumers surveyed claiming that reliability in a retailer will lead to more loyalty to the brand.

Now here’s the crunch. What’s holding the retailers back from investing in that crucial ‘single view’?

A few weeks back I attended a leading retail event in London and sat through a number of exceptional keynotes from some renowned retailers waxing lyrical about the prowess of their businesses and how they are responding to today’s customer. They talk eloquently about a ‘single view’ and how responsive they are to every eventuality. It was incredibly impressive.

But, grab them as they come off stage and the reality is a completely different story. Yes, they do indeed have a ‘single view’ … of that warehouse, but they’re blind as to what is inbound, what’s outbound and although they get a brief glimpse once it arrives in the store, the accuracy of that picture soon blurs.

The challenge here is prioritisation of IT projects, an acceptance that ERP was never designed to cater to this level of complexity and that the central nervous system of your business is your supply chain which relies on a sophisticated order management system to serve up that ‘single view’ across every node, to every channel with the latest adjustments inbound and outbound.