Titans face-off for ecommerce: How to Compete?
There's a new sheriff in town, and its the Consumer!
The new age Consumer has new levels of expectations. Whether it's convenient for the retailer or supplier doesn't matter, ecommerce has flattened the world, and the Consumer likes it. Why shouldn't they!
As a Retailer or Supplier, this is a paradigm shift, but we saw it coming. Sounds easy, buy and fulfill from anywhere and win the hearts of Customers. In reality, corporations had already built tremendous infrastructures from stores to sophisticated warehouses based on older business models. These infrastructures and supply-chains cost billions to implement, and now have to finds ways to leverage those assets. Retailers and Suppliers have to leverage all their inventory, wherever it is, and leverage channel partners inventory, to augment their offerings. This is the birth of the Omni-channel supply-chain.
Corporations are smart, employ the best talent available, and devise new strategies to flourish with these new challenges. You bet that these new strategies include leveraging the tremendous infrastructure, to accommodate however the consumer likes to shop.
"94% of consumers have said that they are more likely to buy on-line from companies that have the best delivery experience"
That new strategy not only includes fulfilling from warehouses, but also from stores and drop-shippers. There are many benefits but the main ones involve:
Endless selection of goods on-line
Leveraging shipping costs and volume
Buy online, pickup at store
Same day & next day shipping
This all sounds great, but let us consider the operational side of things. Not only are we asking stores to merchandise and sell product, but now leveraging that staff to become a warehouse. Stores are already stressed with doing more with less, but the omni-channel consumer is demanding options, and Retailers need to find ways to create the best buying experience.
Inevitably, new process and capabilities need to be established, and this is an evolutionary process. In the beginning, CIO's and Logistics Professionals will modify legacy software & complex systems to accommodate the Consumer fulfillment process. They will then search for innovative next generation software platforms to facilitate this new paradigm to fulfill orders across warehouses, stores, 3PL's or drop-shippers. All the while keeping in mind that Speed, Efficiency, Accuracy & Visibility are critical to meet their customers expectations.
Innovation for Logistics:
All of this requires new levels of workflow in carefully scripted process to enable their workforce, and succeed at this mission. Sounds easy, but new workflow requires massive coding projects along with creating new architectures on Cloud technology. These efforts can take years, and fraught with potential failure.
These new systems also need to be intelligent, with the ability to make decisions at the speed of automation. Here are the 4 technology components that will be critical to succeed:
Machine Learning Software
1. Workflow Technology
Smarter workflow technology will change the way process is coded and delivered. They will have re-usable "micros-service" technology, which will eliminate massive coding efforts. Workflow technology will also provide flexibility to meet new business challenges in minutes/hours vs. weeks/months in an ever changing market.
"Workflow technology will eliminate the "bottleneck" of code development and reliance on complicated IT projects."
2. Machine Learning
Software will become smarter, replacing manual decision points. It is no longer possible to rely on staff to be able to make decisions a the speed of today's commerce. These smart systems will prioritize and distribute work in real-time, eliminating manual static decision points. It will leverage Robotic Process Automation.
Robotic Process Automation is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process.
This will be coupled with workflow technology, so the two will work on concert with each other.
3. Integration Connectors:
Communication between systems is more important than ever to deliver the perfect order. It's a tall task, as there are hundreds of integration points to consider in today's omni-channel commerce.
These integrations are real-time and require higher levels of synchronization connectivity than ever before. Consider all the connections of ERP Platforms, Marketplaces, Webstores, Shippers, Social Sites & Financial Clearing.
It's not feasible for any one company to create the hundreds of potential integration points, so we need to work with ecosystem companies, but deliver it in a whole new way. Provide the ability to rapidly integrate and leverage work done by others.
4. Cloud Platforms
All of these innovations will be delivered in a "SaaS" software as a service architecture on cloud platforms. It's not whether you will be leveraging SaaS platforms, it's just "WHEN".
SaaS companies are creating next generation software leveraging shared infrastructures via the cloud. Single multi-tenant platforms that provide cutting edge technology at a fraction of the cost of doing it the old way of building and managing IT infrastructure.
With SaaS, you pay for what you use, what could be better than that. The modern SaaS platform have many benefits, and here's just a few points:
Reduces the customer's need for dedicated, internal IT resources – personnel and hardware
Quicker deployments with lower initial acquisition costs
No maintenance releases or “patches” to install
Elastic architectures to scale up and down
Higher levels of data security and reliability
Access to continuously updated software, eliminating costly upgrades
Company's such as ORACLE are delivery enterprise grade cloud technology at a fraction of the cost. SaaS companies are leveraging these enterprise grade cloud platforms in a whole new way.
For example, ORACLE provides software as a service of software/hardware needed to build and build and deliver SaaS applications. The Cloud company supplies, updates, secures and maintains critical technology stacks, so companies such as JASCI can focus on what we do well.