by Joseph Santy, Senior SCM Analyst at ITOrizon
According to an article in Forbes last year, COVID-19 has accelerated ecommerce growth by a factor of 4-6 years. Ecommerce sales more than doubled, from 1.9 trillion USD in 2016 to 3.9 trillion USD in 2020, and they continue to grow. Efficient integration of ecommerce into a seamless omni-channel sales and fulfillment system offers a great opportunity for businesses to improve the customer experience and increase revenue.
Consumers have increasingly come to expect the ability to transact with businesses from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Post-pandemic, companies that have not streamlined their systems to allow omni-channel sales and fulfillment are both losing revenue short-term and losing market share long-term as frustrated customers become dissatisfied and turn to other businesses that meet their expectations. Businesses that are agile and focused on continuous improvement of customer experience will quickly enact effective strategies that naturally lead to increases in revenue and market share:
- Mobile-friendly websites enabling seamless transition between devices
- Integration with social media and large e-retailers such as Amazon
- BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) capability
- Free shipping whenever feasible
- Real-time inventory visibility at all levels
- Geo-location and voice capabilities
- 24/7 online customer service using chatbots and AI
- Multiple payment options and ability to apply appeasements and accept returns
- Dark stores and micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) that increase efficiency of last-mile delivery
Implementation of the right Order Management System, either on premise or in the cloud, can enable many of the strategies above. For businesses that are not in the position to overhaul their current systems, another option is use of a composable business platform such as UCBOS, which allows visibility, analysis, and automation across existing sites and systems and leads to a seamless omnichannel experience for employees, management, and customers. Such a composable system allows processes to be analyzed with machine learning and adjusted as needed. With this data, executives can rest assured that the investments they make will maximize ROI as they prioritize the strategies above. COVID-19 has accelerated the consumer adoption of new purchasing behavior, but the best strategy for business success remains the same: exceed customer expectations. Successfully doing so relies now more than ever on use of the right technology to enable functionality that customers have come to expect.