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Why Cognitive is Critical in Omnichannel Order Management

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Jul 18, 2018

For retailers as well as B2B companies, order fulfillment plays a major role in both customer satisfaction and profitability. Customers expect flawless, fast order fulfillment across all channels.  While customer-centric companies work hard to meet these expectations, it can be very expensive to do so.

As customers purchase from your company across multiple channels—via the Web, mobile apps, kiosks, marketplaces, retail locations, and even catalog and telephone orders—you’ll want capabilities like centralized order orchestration, ship from store, drop ship, and real-time inventory visibility. These order management capabilities work together to meet customers’ expectations seamless, fast and error-free order fulfillment.

However, these capabilities alone don’t ensure companies can do so profitably.  In fact, while many CEOs have identified omnichannel commerce as a top priority, the IBM Consumer Expectations Study found that it could cost up to three times more to serve omnichannel customers.

Every channel adds complexity to the order fulfillment process. In addition, there’s pressure from customers and competitors to same-day or two-day shipping, making it even more critical to leverage modern technologies to fulfill orders in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. In fact, the IBM study found that 72 percent of consumersconsider two-day or less shipping as a factor when making a purchase.

On top of using an omnichannel order management system, companies are now adopting solutions that can apply human reasoning and cognitive capabilities to order fulfillment. As a result, they’re able to meet or exceed customer expectations while reducing their fulfillment costs. Let’s take a closer look.

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3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Improves Omnichannel Order Fulfillment

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Mar 21, 2018

Omnichannel commerce brings new challenges to order fulfillment. Think of all the channels your customers use to shopyour website, online marketplaces, stores, paging through a catalog, or calling your contact center.

Add in all your inventory locations—including DCs, warehouses, fulfillment partners, and retail locationsand you may run into difficulty fulfilling orders as flawlessly as customers expect. All the order touchpoints such as point-of-sale systems, contact centers, and e-commerce platforms need to sync with your order, inventory, warehouse, shipping, and reporting systems. Otherwise, orders may need to be canceled or delayed, which affects customer loyalty and chips away at profitability.

Flexibility is key when it comes to omnichannel order fulfillment and order management systems that enable it. Static business rules—such as a customer located in California should receive products from the nearest fulfillment center in Arizona— no longer makes sense when inventory is sourced from retail locations as well.  Now, you also need to consider the store inventory, as well as the demand for a product in that geographic area.

That same customer, located in Northern California, orders a popular product online that sells out quickly in the retail store in his area. Instead of shipping from the store in his area that has low inventory (and risking losing an in-store sale as a result of being out of stock), artificial intelligence can determine that it’s better to ship the product from a store in an area that isn’t experiencing the same level of demand.

Sound confusing? It can be. But this is the next generation of order management and fulfillment, which uses artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities to determine the best source for items and ship them in the most profitable way possible. These capabilities can transform the way orders are fulfilledreducing costs and increasing profitability, while ensuring customers are happy. Here are a few examples of how this works.

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Choosing the Right Order Management System for Great Customer Experiences

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Mar 07, 2018

It’s no secret that customers expect a seamless and personalized experience, whether interacting with a company via a mobile device, computer, in-store, or on the phone with a customer service representative.  As consumers (and B2B customers) ourselves, we have little—if any—patience for inconsistent information and impersonal interactions.   

This not only applies to our shopping and purchasing experiences, but to our post-purchase experience as well:  timeliness and accuracy of order status updates, if our order was delivered or available for pick up as promised, the quality of our interactions with representatives, and the ease of returning items.

Sounds obvious, but if you’re reading this blog post, you understand that meeting these expectations consistently is no small feat. Delivering flawless omnichannel shopping and post-purchase experiences can be exceedingly complex from technology, process, and training perspectives—especially for companies with multiple business models and brands, multiple marketplaces, a large number of items, and numerous store locations, warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment partners. 

An omnichannel order management system (OMS) can play an essential role in meeting these expectations.  Today’s sophisticated order management and fulfillment systems are capable of much more than capturing an order through and sending it to a back-end system for processing.  Some can meet a wide range of customer demands, orchestrate order fulfillment across channels, facilitate an experience that engenders customer loyalty, and assist in maximizing profits for the company as well. In addition, these systems can provide critical business data to better inform decisions surrounding merchandising, returns, inventory, marketing, and other functions. 

Most likely, if you are selling products online, you are already employing some sort of an order management system. It might be part of your ecommerce platform, ERP, or CRM system—or perhaps a home-grown, proprietary solution. However, as you may have recognized, these systems often fall short of meeting customer expectations.

If this is the case—and you want to improve the customer experience by leaps and bounds—consider some of the most critical components of an omnichannel order management system as you evaluate your options.  Here are some questions you should be asking.

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IBM Amplify Spotlight: Are You Causing Your Customers to Shop Elsewhere?

By Lori Angalich | Fri, Mar 17, 2017

IBM Amplify 2017 kicks off next week, and we're excited to be participating again as sponsors and presenters.  

For one of our sessions, we've teamed up with John Stelzer, IBM Senior Omni-channel Strategist, to share insights gained from comprehensive research on the topic of omnichannel retail. This includes several studies:

  • IBM Consumer Expectations Study, which covers what consumers expect
  • IBM 2016 Customer Experience Index, which describes how retailers are actually doing
  • IBM/Aberdeen Group 2016 InBalance Retailer Survey, which describes how retailers think they're doing

This session offers a rare opportunity to hear correlations and comparisons between these studies, see what's most important to consumers today, understand what has changed in recent times, and (if you're part of a retail organization) assess how your capabilities compare to other retailers.  

If you're attending IBM Amplify, read on to learn more about this session and add it to your agenda.  We hope to connect with you at Amplify and see you at the session!

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10 Great Reasons to Attend IBM Amplify 2017

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Mar 01, 2017

IBM Amplify 2017 is one of the year's most anticipated events for eCommerce, marketing and supply chain professionals who want to leverage the latest technologies to improve customer experiences, engagement, acquisition, and loyalty.  

This year's event is bound to be best yet. It will be held in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand from Monday, March 20 through Wednesday, March 22. Once again, Lightwell will be an IBM Amplify sponsor, will be participating in Solution Expo, and will be presenting in multiple breakout sessions.  For those of you planning to attend IBM Interconnect, you'll recognize that the conference is happening at the same time, just a couple of properties away. 

While there are so many reasons that we enjoy attending the IBM Amplify conference, we wanted to share 10 of our favorites for 2017 (in no particular order).

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Are you ready to “Outthink Ordinary” at IBM Amplify?

By Julie Baker | Thu, May 05, 2016

The annual event IBM describes as an opportunity to “learn new ways to understand your customers, turn insight into action, and transform the ordinary into the extraordinary” is swooping into Tampa from May 16-18. Lightwell is thrilled to be part of creating that opportunity. Will you be there?

If you aren’t registered yet, check out our previous blog post for the top 12 reasons to attend IBM Amplify. And if you need a couple more reasons, how about an opening keynote address by Academy Award nominee, author, and entrepreneur (don’t you just love Fabletics?), Kate Hudson, and a live performance by Grammy-nominated musical artist, Elle King!

As a Gold Sponsor of the conference this year, Lightwell is hosting a Solution Center booth (#610) and participating in two sessions. Here are the details.

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A Real-Life Implementation Roadtrip

By Craig Pasquale | Thu, Mar 31, 2016

In my last blog post, I talked about creating a roadmap to ensure successful implementation of anything you do.  I wanted to follow up with a real-life scenario that includes an actual car on an actual road.  

 

The Plan

Not too long ago, I had a typical eCommerce solution implementation going on.  We had a plan, we had oversight, we had contingencies--we had a roadmap to our destination. Our planning served us well to this point.

Was it perfect? No, but it allowed us to make adjustments along the way without losing sight of our destination. There were no side trips to unforeseen problems. 

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B2B eCommerce: Go B2C or Go Home

By Brian Kayla | Tue, Mar 29, 2016

For B2B or B2B-like organizations that run a corporate eCommerce platform, the time of captured customers and “traditional” site features/functionality has passed. B2B eCommerce sites are the new B2C. The new customers (buyers) have high expectations during their visits. With the rise in available purchasing option for these buyers, including large scale alternative platforms like Amazon Business, no account should be considered a safe (“captured”) customer.   

The key to continued sales and growth for B2B eCommerce sites requires embracing the lessons learned and strategies from B2C companies. For B2B organizations looking to modernize their eCommerce activities, several key concepts can help start this conversation. 

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Shine a Light on Your Customers at IBM Amplify 2016

By Julie Baker | Mon, Mar 21, 2016

Not Just another Conference

IBM Amplify is one of the year’s most anticipated events for companies that are focused on delivering great customer experiences across channels, while improving customer acquisition, loyalty, and profitability. In other words, for you.

Will you be at IBM Amplify 2016 in Tampa May 16-19?

Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company.”  ~Michael LeBoeuf

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January 'Tis the Season for Retail Returns

By Julie Baker | Fri, Jan 08, 2016

Unhappy Returns

If you’re like most of us, you’re still picking pine needles out of the corners of your family room (if you’ve even taken down your tree, that is), scraping dripped candle wax off your furniture, and you have at least one shopping bag filled with presents to return that weren’t quite right.

Maybe you thought you ordered Women’s size 8 slippers for your 16-year old daughter, but you actually received Men’s size 11. And since you ordered online, now you have to package it up, print out a label, call UPS, etc., etc. Not that I’d know anything about that sort of mistake…

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