In the rush to introduce seamless customer experiences and manage omnichannel complexity, many retailers haven’t thoroughly considered their approach to meeting delivery promises and how it can directly impact the customer experience. 35% of retailers don’t have a well-defined omnichannel fulfillment strategy in place. Currently, retailers rely on what the system says is available for inventory and then calculate the shipping time to present a promise date. But without real-time inventory visibility, they can’t see what is actually available before they promise it to customers. Aside from inventory, there are many other nuances to consider before retailers can make profitable and accurate promises — labour and throughput capacity to prepare orders, node and carrier schedules, as well as cost factors and constraints. With just over 60% of retailersi reporting that they are implementing curbside pick-up or BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) solutions in the next 12 months, implementing new omnichannel fulfillment strategies that help make accurate delivery promises that meet customer expectations will need to become a priority.
Every retailer wants to increase sales and get products into shoppers’ hands faster. Visibility and trust throughout the process are critical to every shopper experience. Customers often face disappointment when the inventory they believe in stock is unavailable or back-ordered at checkout. In fact, roughly 47% of shoppers will shop elsewhere if they cannot see inventory availability before buying. Providing customers with early insight into estimated delivery dates is also critical; nearly 50% of shoppers would cancel their cart due to a mismatch between their expectations for the delivery date and the actual delivery date.
IBM Sterling Supply Chain Applications for Inventory and Order Management
Retailers need modern solutions that bring together real-time inventory visibility and advanced fulfillment logic to balance profitability and customer experience. IBM Sterling Supply Chain Applications for Inventory and Order Management help cut through complexity to orchestrate omnichannel fulfillment for B2B and B2C commerce.
From a single customizable dashboard, teams can get accurate, up to the minute inventory views and Available-to-Promise data, which means that you don’t make order promises you don’t keepii. Built-in AI allows you to make more intelligent sourcing and fulfillment decisions at the lowest cost-to-serve while enabling profitable services, like BOPIS and BORIS.
Call centre representatives have fully-integrated access to your omnichannel environment so they can track and change any order at any time, even after shipping. A 360-degree view of all customer activity means upselling and cross-selling is easier than ever. And thanks to mobile-first applications, with the same omnichannel access, store associates have everything they need to easily pick, pack and ship online orders while providing customers with even better, more personalized, in-store experiences.
Enhance the Shopping Experience
Intelligent Promising is an order management solution within IBM Sterling Supply Chain Applications designed to provide sophisticated inventory promising to create next-generation omnichannel experiences. Retailers can preserve brand trust by providing shoppers with greater certainty, choice, and transparency across their buying journey. And, this solution empowers retailers to increase digital conversions and in-store sales while achieving near-perfect delivery time SLA compliance, a reduction in split packages and shipping costs, and an improvement in inventory turns.
IBM Sterling Intelligent Promising is your superpower to enhance the shopping experience by improving certainty, choice, and transparency across the customer journey.
- Certainty. With real-time inventory visibility and advanced, cost-based optimization, you can deliver accurate promise dates throughout the order process. On the product list page, product details page, and during checkout, customers can see exactly when an order is arriving, with no surprises. When customers can see what is truly available with reliable delivery dates, retailers can reduce order cancellations, improve cart conversion, and feel confident about their bottom line.
- Choice. Empower shoppers to find and filter by store and products based on availability, delivery date, and fulfillment method. Make enterprise-wide inventory available to promise based on easy-to-configure business rules, enabling a faster delivery experience with more options for customers.
- Transparency. Provide clarity when items are low on inventory or back-ordered. With inventory intelligence and data from carriers and other processing and fulfillment factors, retailers can manage pre-purchase expectations for any uncertainty around on time, in full delivery due to potential supply chain disruptions.
Improve conversion by providing an accurate inventory view up-front. Go the extra mile by proactively suggesting related products as an upsell opportunity without changing shipping, labour costs, or delivery dates. Optimization logic influences promising across the order journey and supports even the most complex scenarios, such as orders that include third-party services (like furniture assembly) and multi-brand orders.
[i] IBM Blog, Sophisticated Inventory Promising: Your Superpower for Next-Generation Omnichannel Experiences, 2021
[ii] IBM Video, IBM Sterling Order Management and Inventory Visibility, 2021