For companies that are used to selling through stores and distributors, taking orders directly from customers can present unique challenges. First, the nature of demand is quite different. Direct online customers tend to order small quantities or individual items rather than cases or pallets. In addition, the picking and packing operation is different—and is often difficult to carry out effectively when it is mixed in with the large shipments supported by existing warehouse operations. Integrated fulfillment, inventory management and warehouse management systems bridge the gap to provide intelligent put-away (goods placement), picking, and allocation of resources for performance and efficiency.
Many multi-channel (or omni-channel) retailers sell products on the web that are not stocked in their warehouse, but are instead “direct shipped” from suppliers or distributors (transparently to the customer). Supply chain management tools connect the retailer’s order management and fulfillment system to suppliers’ systems to manage and account for this flexible operating structure. The result is multichannel retailing that ends in timely, accurate fulfillment—and it all starts with the right omni-channel retail solutions.
Today’s omni-channel retail software can help address challenges such as:
- Inventory and Price Management. You must be able to know which products are available, where and when; identify fast- or slow-moving inventory; and adjust pricing and offers dynamically.
- Fulfillment. It’s essential to get the product to the consumer as quickly as possible. Fulfillment can have a major impact on consumer confidence and loyalty.
- RMA and Returns. This is a major challenge in multi-channel retailing. Managing this issue from the financial side can be especially complex because the returns can be damaged, returned to stock, or no return-credit.