eCommerce Automation: The Future of Retail is Here
In a world where consumer expectations are at an all-time high and supply chain challenges continue to disrupt the flow of goods, retailers must evaluate their operational continuity for a more resilient future.
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This is a critical moment for businesses, as we have arrived at a new age of retail, and the decisions that we choose to make in the next year will determine much of our success for the next decade. The greatest stories of the 2020s will belong to those businesses that are courageous and don’t give in to fear. But these stories won’t just magically happen – companies need to ensure they have a clear strategy and a robust plan to execute on that strategy.
To poise your business for success in the new age of ecommerce, here are the three items you should prioritize:
1. Establish Total Commerce Control
The modern consumer expects to be able to shop on any channel they choose: marketplaces, websites, social media, in-store. As a result, brands and retailers need to respond to these consumer expectations, pivoting their existing operating systems to ensure their ability to sell wherever their customers choose to shop. At Linnworks, we call this Total Commerce – the ability to maximize your revenue by being present in the many environments where your customers are.
Integrating your commerce technologies and selling channels into a central platform is key. Connecting your major carriers and fulfillment services to create total control across your technology stack will give the control to grow revenues and optimize your cost base. In addition, automation of tasks across the logistics process, and complete visibility over business information, are essential for demand planning and stock management to ensure maximum profitability.
2. Bolster Your Customer’s Omnichannel Experience
Every minute is precious when it comes to online shopping. Findings from a report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company also indicated that 90% of American shoppers would no longer wait more than two to three days to have goods delivered. In addition, while fulfillment operations typically need four to eight hours to pick and pack deliveries, top-notch omnichannel operations can fulfill orders within just two hours, according to the same report.
The writing is on the wall – omnichannel is a must. While this trend isn’t necessarily new, it has been amplified with the massive shift to eCommerce during the pandemic. In fact, omnichannel sales now account for 10% to 20% of a retailer’s orders. And to reap these rewards, retailers need to prioritize investing in omnichannel capabilities – which include improving the operational tech stack, optimizing the company’s own website, marketing spending on customer experience, engagement and loyalty, and investment in physical space split between bricks and mortar retail locations and expanding a company’s warehouse space.
3. Rethink Your Inventory Distribution Strategies
Throughout the pandemic and the resulting supply chain crisis, retailers have experienced a series of challenges that continue to impact ecommerce business operations. Growth can still bring pitfalls even for businesses that have fared well as business logistics struggle to keep pace with order volumes.
Enter center stage: automated inventory management. This practical tool for businesses of all sizes helps automate the inventory control process. Rather than manually entering data and performing tedious management tasks, your team can take a step back while the software does it for them. It is more accurate, efficient and insightful than manual inventory tracking and saves a huge amount of time – upwards of 9.2 million hours.
By automating, you can also track inventory levels. The software analyzes sales patterns and helps predict supply and demand, ensuring your stock is prepped for shopping spikes during the holiday shopping season. This enables retailers to quickly identify reorder points for each of your products, in turn avoiding the occurrence of stock outages.
This shift to both omnichannel and automation can be a major challenge for retailers – especially considering along with this expansion, retailers need to ensure their service levels meet the new raised expectation of what a good shopping and fulfillment experience looks like. But if you enact these three principles, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the future of retail.
To learn more about ecommerce acceleration and the future of retail, check out the latest retailer research, “The Great Ecommerce Acceleration” from Linnworks.
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Callum Campbell is the CEO of Linnworks, a leading SaaS commerce platform that works with brands like Ford, Casio, Belkin, and Ten Thousand. As CEO, Callum is responsible for ensuring Linnworks empowers brands to grow their business online. Before becoming CEO of Linnworks in 2017, Callum founded Autonative, a global automotive ecommerce software and services business, where he currently sits as a board member.
This contribution is part of our Leadership Series, where industry professionals share valuable insights for small business owners selling online. The views expressed are the author’s alone.