The quest for the omni-channel grail for manufacturers

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Manufacturing companies are in quest of the holy grail for how to capitalize omni-channel distribution and capture customers from the multichannel avenues available for customers to place orders for merchandise. Consumers are using all types of channels and delivery to maximize convenience.   Manufacturers have been slow to adopt new practices that enable customers to buy their products.  Manufacturers are looking for new ways to compete with B2C based stores to maximize customer satisfaction and increase revenue that may have not been available previously.


The internet has become the great enabler with regards to access of products through local channels or through  global fulfillment.  The trends discussed in this post are: New payment options, mobility, website ease of use,  real-time analytics, fulfillment/delivery/transportation, and inventory synchronization are  major issues that have kept manufacturers behind their B2C counterparts.


New payment methods: New payment methods have emerged and manufacturers often do have the infrastructure to support the new technology and consequently have lagged behind in customer convenience.  Since the infrastructure needs to be built, technology deployed the time to market in getting this portion running is prohibitive due to hardware/software/implementation costs.


Mobility and Ease 0f Use: Consumers are using all types of mobile options for search, research and purchase.  If a manufacturing company has a website it is often not equipped to adapt to the several mobile channels and devices that consumers are using.  The option of completing a purchase from a mobile device for manufacturing is difficult due to the lack of ability to create an equivalent procurement experience using mobile devices and platforms. Manufacturing websites are often lacking the convenience that customers now expect in order to complete a transaction.


Real-time analytics: Manufacturers are now starting to catch up to the trend of using realtime information when making decisions.  Older systems often siloed information and provided delayed data so that accurate decisions were more difficult to make.  New systems such as cloud, SaaS, multiple hybrid deployments and hardware compatibility and IoT integration have all advanced and has brought manufacturing companies into the 21st century. More advanced MES systems and reporting techniques have been adopted to  provide realtime accurate decision support data.  More accurate decisions based on what’s actually happening within your supply chain can greatly reduce several major issues.


Fulfillment/delivery/transportation:  One of the major problems faced is how to deliver the product once the order is placed.  Manufacturers have a difficult time with completing this part of the transaction.   How a product is fulfilled (as to which warehouse, store or location) it may be picked from, how it will be delivered to that location, which method of transportation is used to do so,  how much will it cost to deliver it to their home, will it be dropshipped, is there a way the customer can pick it up in-store if available,  is there a way to handle returns both systematically and business process-wise, lead time and expectancy dates are major concerns that manufacturers must solve in order to provide an omni-channel shopping experience.


Inventory Synchronization:  Multiple systems must exist and speak to each other using interoperability, proper integration, and provide realtime data to appease consumers.  Multiple systems must be harmonized to provide in stock quantities, project proper delivery estimates and an easy to use transaction experience from the website are all areas where customers expect this to be in place before being confident about a purchase.  Since they have not done this in the past, the time to market has been considerably expanded, making it difficult to achieve omni-channel presence.


There are many other concerns that are dependent on some of these issues and others that are not covered here. Omni-channel presence is proving difficult for manufacturing companies to achieve due to the many complex moving parts that understanding how the customer experience, mobility, system and business processes must be unified to complete an end-to-end transaction.  This will bring manufacturing companies in to direct competition with their B2C counterparts.  In some cases, the middleman can be cut out completely thereby eliminating one layer of the supply chain and possibly reducing overall costs to the consumer.


About Eval-Source

EvalSource is a consulting firm that provides enterprise software selection and strategic technology consulting services for organizations to achieve success in their IT initiatives. Our consulting practices include cloud and on-premise software evaluation services, ERP Project Management, Project Recovery, , Corporate training and Technology Management Consulting. Our Tru‐Eval selection system allows organizations to avoid IT failure, receive greater ROI and provide accurate decision support for enterprise software procurement. What sets us apart is our unbiased best in class consulting services that provide our clients with value, direction and success in selection, planning and optimization of their technology systems.

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