When thinking of the perils of purchasing goods online, especially around the annual seasonal holiday peaks, one cannot help but worry, “will it arrive in time?” and “what if my wife’s present goes missing?” etc. etc.
One can only imagine the icy glances of disappointment over that special occasion lunch or dinner from one’s spouse should their token of appreciation not have materialised earlier that morning.
I recall a scene from “Seinfeld” concerning the reservation of a hire car when Jerry attempts to collect it …now bear with me….all will hopefully make sense……Ok….So,…it went something like this:
Jerry: I made an online reservation for a mid-size car.
Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size cars available at the moment.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation surely keeps the car here? That’s why you have the reservation!
Agent: I know why we have reservations!
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Many of you may be wondering what this has got to do with e-fulfilment …. Why are we taking a nostalgic trip down Seinfeld memory lane?
For “Reservation”, see “Order” or more importantly, “Order Fulfilment”.
Anybody can take an order on line, but the real “customer experience” does not end there. We and our logistics partners are being asked more and more to support our clients’ e-fulfilment operations offering multiple solutions in a seamless and interlinked approach as the pressure is always being passed back down the supply chain.
We have seen the dynamics of the high street change so dramatically in such a relatively short period of time, when compared to the previous 3000 years or so, and it continues to do so, widening out to encompass: online ordering, in store catalogues & in-store pick-up, mobile devices, multiple delivery options, click & collect and latterly parcel lockers - as well as an ever changing choice for returning goods.
Businesses are not necessarily moving away from traditional models and solutions but looking to add e-commerce as an additional channel to market and revenue stream. It is imperative that real-time stock visibility is available to these organisations, with the ability to allocate inventory quickly in the most cost-effective way.
In this brave new world, both Supply Chain service providers and solution partners face a myriad of ever changing dynamic challenges. For example, in a B2C e-fulfilment model the margin for error is virtually nil, where as a “traditional” commercial B2B operation could be picking large multiple item orders of 100’s of items to a single recipient. And whilst we all have a goal to provide 100 % order fulfilment, the impact of a picking error here would not have a dramatic impact on the service level. A 99 % fulfilment in this scenario is largely acceptable. However, by contrast, B2C consumer orders are typically one, two item orders. A mis-pick here could represent either 50 % to 100 % failure, which to the consumer is understandably unacceptable.
With the additional cost overhead of rectifying errors by re-picking, and the subsequent collection / re-deliveries, it is critical that orders are picked accurately. We’ve all heard the strap line, “First Time, On Time”. Never more has this been true.
Another challenge faced by the supply chain service providers is how to maintain operational efficiencies, particularly when managing seasonal products. It is imperative for any solution deployed by our logistics partners in support of these operations to be able to analyse data in real time, providing the analysis tools to move from tactical and reactive decision making based on “best guess-timates”, to longer term strategic and operationally efficient planning.
e-Fulfilment is after all the art of managing our customers’ customers' good will.
Author Simon Begnor
For further information on Proteus Software Order Fulfilment Solutions contact Linda Rodway on 0121 717 7474