Holiday preparations include systems for omni-channel commerce


iStock_000001548702_LargeWith the holiday season approaching, retailers are preparing a multitude of processes and technologies to ensure their success during this time of year. With predictions for this year's holiday consumer spending reaching an all-time high, it is critical that vendors are fully prepared for the rush of orders that will inevitably come in. This becomes even more critical as customers leverage a range of channels to connect with merchants and make their purchases. As such, companies must guarantee that their supply chain and order management strategies are ready to handle anything the season might throw their way.

Predicted holiday spending levels in 2014

According to information compiled by The Statistics Portal, the amount of money the average person spends on holiday gifts has been fluctuating within the last few years. For instance, in 2008, the typical American consumer spent roughly $616 on gifts. Four years later, that number had grown to reach $770, and last year the average individual put just over $700 toward his or her holiday spending.

This fall, Deloitte researchers forecasted that not only will holiday sales increase this coming season, but that omni-channel commerce will become even more critical. The research firm predicted that this year, the retail market will see between $981 and $986 billion in sales. This is a 4 to 4.5 percent rise compared with sales from November through January in 2013.

These sales will be impacted by a variety of factors, one of the most pertinant of which is the influence of digital interactions. This season, half of all sales will be impacted by digital interactions with brands - in other words, approximately $345 billion of sales will be affected by virtual commerce channels accessible from shoppers' smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices.

With this in mind, it is incredibly important that brands ensure they have a robust omni-channel commerce footprint.

"While online sales continue to climb, digital customer interactions through both virtual and physical store channels present greater sales opportunities than online or mobile commerce alone," noted Alison Paul, vice chairman and distribution sector leader for Deloitte LLP. "Our research indicates that 84 percent of shoppers use digital tools before and during their trip to a store. Additionally, those shoppers convert, or make a purchase, at a 40 percent higher rate than those who do not use such devices during their shopping journey."

Preparing management systems for omni-channel purchases

As consumers are forecasted to spend even more than last year and utilize multiple channels to do so, it is critical that retailers are prepared. Of these readiness processes, some of the most important include ensuring that supply chain and order management systems are integrated into the omni-channel strategy. This season and beyond, merchants must be prepared to take and deliver upon orders coming from any channel - physical or digital.

One way to help guarantee success in this realm is through the use of omni-channel ready order management software. This software keeps orders from falling through the cracks while helping to ensure that supplies will meet customers’ demands. With these systems included in a retailer's omni-channel commerce approach, the company will be set up for success during the holidays and afterwards.

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