Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

You’re Fired

A recent episode of The Apprentice saw the two teams put on tours of Bruges in Belgium. In true The Apprentice fashion, the episode was high on entertainment, but neither team covered themselves in glory, and the team that lost had higher refunds from their tourists.

Allyson Stewart-Allen summed it up concisely in the analysis show (The Apprentice: You’re Fired!) when she stated that the losing team ‘Over promised and under delivered’ which ‘disappoints people’ and was clearly shown by their higher refund demands than the other team. One of the keys to a good experience is being able to ‘under promise and over deliver’.

We often have conversations with retailers about under promising and over-delivering, or making soft promises so we can surprise and delight consumers. Typically, this involves how to better use store inventory in omnichannel consumer journeys. Often, because store stock accuracy can’t be trusted, a first phase of an order management project may be try to fulfil click and collect orders from store, but make a promise that would allow fulfilment from a warehouse, or local fulfilment centre. In this way, when possible (and not at the expense of the customer promise), transportation costs can be reduced.

However, knowing whether you can over-deliver, surprise or delight a consumer still requires a complete understanding of where your inventory is and the transit lanes between the fulfilment and the consumer delivery or pickup locations. This is a key availability capability of an order management solution – understand where inventory is within the internal and the external supply chain, its condition, and how it can be used. Knowing you can definitely fulfil an order, from anywhere, is the first step in ensuring you don’t disappoint a consumer.

The next debate is how much can you surprise a consumer. Beating the delivery expectation could actually disappoint the consumer. For example, if an expectation is set of two weeks and it is available in two days, then it may be cumbersome for the consumer to change their plans to pick up earlier or be at home for delivery. This is compounded if the collection or delivery location is a temporary location that the consumer is visiting.

Similarly, if you over-deliver too much, it becomes the normal expectation. It may also reduce income from premium deliver check-out options.

Again, this is why an order management solution is important. Executing the business fulfilment rules, knowing the windows and parameters of a surprise, and potentially providing different rules for different customers or delivery choices. Most crucially, an order management solution ensures the promise is accurate, and is met so your consumers aren’t left disappointed.