Leverage Shops as A part of Your Omni-Channel Retail Technique

This blog is co-authored by Nina Seth, Product Marketing Director, and Sumit Mittal, Product Director – Commerce Solutions

With the growth in e-commerce sales, one might think that the brick-and-mortar store is dead.  But nothing can be further from the truth.   In fact, the store has become a key component of retailers’ omni-channel strategy.  When the pandemic shuttered stores, many retailers dove straight into omni-channel offerings including offering curbside pickup; ship from store, and buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS). From early 2020 through early 2021, the percentage of retail chains offering curbside pickup grew from single digits to a majority.1  In a February 2021 survey of 1,052 shoppers from Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights, 75% of shoppers said they had used curbside or BOPIS in the past six months. 2 

As stay-at-home orders end in the U.S. and across many parts of the globe, retailers are wondering whether consumers will continue to embrace store fulfillment options, how much more should they invest in speed and convenience options, and what percentage of consumers will return to in-person shopping. Over the past year, 40% of Americans tried a new shopping method, and nearly three-quarters of people who have tried curbside pickup, BOPIS, or delivery want to continue using these services after the pandemic ends. 3  This certainly means that there is no going back.  To stay ahead and certainly compete with top retailers that leveraged stores as part of their omni-channel strategy, more retailers will need to do the same. Stores like Target, Walmart, and Ulta successfully leveraged stores and saw great financial results. Target’s DriveUp service grew 500% last year.4  With consumer preferences changing, it’s imperative for retailers to utilize the right technologies to effectively use stores as part of their digital transformation strategy. 

Blue Yonder’s Order Fulfillment capabilities help retailers deliver modern commerce experiences by supporting store fulfillment options such as curbside pickup, BOPIS, ship from/to store, and same day delivery/last mile.  Using the persona-based Order Fulfillment mobile application, a store manager can get full visibility of their store’s micro-fulfillment activities with actionable dashboards to make store fulfillment decisions (i.e. accepting/rejecting orders, assigning orders, prioritizing orders).  Store associates can also utilize the same mobile application’s intuitive workflows to see tasks assigned to them to efficiently pick, pack, and fulfill orders. The solution enables retailers to streamline and optimize store fulfillment operations for online orders to ensure that customers receive the right order, at the right time, through their channel of choice. 

Retailers can leverage Order Fulfillment capabilities when utilizing their brick-and-mortar locations for both in-store shopping and store fulfillment, as well as scenarios where store locations have been converted fully or partially to dark stores to meet the demands of online order fulfillment.  With greater demand to offer one- and two-day delivery, the microservice supports parcel carrier integration, allowing retailers to send products to last mile carriers from local stores rather than far flung warehouses.  

Leveraging stores as part of their digital transformation is a win-win for retailers and for customers alike. Using stores to fulfill orders reduces inventory carrying costs and markdowns and enables faster delivery and/or pick up for customers. Options such as BOPIS drive foot traffic, enable stores to garner incremental sales. Who hasn’t picked up their BOPIS order and then added a few last-minute items to their cart?  Store pick-up options such as BOPIS and curbside also ensure product availability before shoppers leave home.  Nothing is more disappointing than finding out that an item is no longer available, or it’s sold out once you reach a store.    

To learn more about Blue Yonder’s Commerce and Fulfillment solutions, visit us here.  

The Stock Battleground: Growing Provide Chain Complexity

IHL’s latest report on the future of grocery shows some hard lessons learned from the 2020 disruptions, especially when it comes to inventory accuracy. Out-of-stocks (OOS) have always plagued the grocery industry, but the rise of digital shopping last year exposed some new causes for concern.

Last year, grocers and mass merchant retailers saw a $505 billion loss (up to 6% of store sales) due to OOS [i]. Approximately $75 billion of this loss was uncovered due to in-store fulfillment of online orders. How? Customers who encounter an OOS when they’re in the stores often grab alternative products without even thinking. Can’t find the Zesty Italian salad dressing? They just grab the Robust Italian salad dressing instead. The customer might be slightly disappointed, but the grocer might not notice there’s an item missing off the shelf. Online’s a completely different story. No Zesty Italian? No sale. As online shopping grew significantly, the age-old OOS problem was magnified.

The good news for 2020 was that total revenues were up by 9.4% versus 2019. Panic buying and the shift towards at-home cooking (among other influences) led to a record year for grocers. So, grocers essentially made up for their OOS problem by selling more of everything else. What if everything had been in-stock? Just think about how much revenue potential grocers missed last year.

But not every grocer suffered. Winners were able to meet the demand surge and realized a 7-18% increase in overall revenues (and up to 80% increase in online revenues) than their peers. The key to winning was the right technology with the insights to identify and react quickly to shifts in demand signals, led by a holistic view of inventory availability and advanced category management and merchandising systems. Let’s take a closer look at why these technologies matter.

Even with the drastic rise in digital ordering, the physical store is still involved with 92% of all sales. This means items on the shelf must meet the demand for both the walk-in shopper and the click-and-collect buyer. Demand forecasting must generate a combined view or grocers will be serving one type of customer at the expense of the other. And grocers really need to appeal to everyone — in-store sales make up the vast majority of profits and digital ordering is fast becoming a preferred shopping method.

It’s not enough to have accurate demand predictions. It matters what grocers can do with the information. Retail winners take intelligent demand forecasts and feed it into their category management systems to optimize store assortments and shelf placement. This helps ensure that available inventory is the right mix of high-demand items, without having too much stock. Advanced assortment planning solutions can create customer decision-mapping that identify what drives purchase decisions at each store location. Plus, integrated planogram generation means store-level compliance of merchandise plans and standardized layouts that help store associates pick online orders faster and with greater accuracy.

Beyond reacting to customer demand, the forecast is an integral component of intelligent lifecycle pricing with the goal of steering demand. Understanding not only how price sensitive customers can be at the local level, but also how price elasticity varies over time and geography is an important component in a connected retail model that unifies assortment, price and inventory.

Blue Yonder gives retailers end-to-end supply chain visibility for faster and more informed decision-making. Our solutions use artificial intelligence and machine learning to empower retailers to manage what they cannot see, helping to mitigate risks and stay ahead of potential disruptions. While no one expects future disruptions on the scale of what we experienced last year, something as common as a weather event or a new socially-influenced diet trend that leads to a demand surge can expose weaknesses in execution for grocers without the right systems. So far this year, we’ve seen supply chain disruptions due to a ship stuck in the Suez Canal, a global microchip shortage, a gas and chlorine shortage, ketchup and chicken wings shortage, and most recently personal hygiene products like makeup and teeth whitener. And we’re only halfway through the year!

As we move through 2021, it’s critical that grocers solve inventory problems for physical and digital spaces. The same IHL report estimated that only 30-40% of online shoppers would remain loyal post-pandemic because “the experience wasn’t great,” which was primarily attributed to out-of-stocks and inconvenient pickup processes. Customers won’t tolerate poor experiences now that things are getting back to normal. They will expect that what’s promised can ultimately be delivered, every day, with every order. They’ll want that Zesty Italian dressing.

Blue Yonder’s Luminate™ Commerce platform gives retailers the right tools and the right insights to fulfill their potential with a reduced cost to serve and optimized omni-channel execution.

Learn how Blue Yonder can help you here.

Download the IHL “Future of Grocery and CPG” report here.

[i] All figures in this blog are taken from IHL’s The Future of Grocery and CPG report

Automotive Provide Chain Case Examine: Main Battery Distributor Reaching Correct Demand Sign

The automotive spare parts industry is a highly competitive domain. Spare parts manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers are continually battling unclear demand signal, demand-supply fluctuations, and friction in the automotive supply chain. More importantly, if you misread demand signals, your operation might be prone to losing sales to your competitors or incur additional costs. 
In all of this, a next-generation inventory management system — backed by real-time visibility — has a lot to offer in terms of supply chain optimization duties, especially in obtaining accurate demand signals. Roambee regularly engages with automotive supply chain players to help realize this, and in this article, we look at one such success story. 
We will learn how a leading aftermarket automotive battery distributor is transforming its automotive supply chain with real-time inventory visibility and clear demand signals across its operational footprint!