Competing in this retail landscape is harder than it’s ever been by several orders of magnitude. In 2017, more than 300 retailers filed for bankruptcy, and the majority of them fell short in the area of e-commerce. Considering that somewhere between nearly 80 percent and 90 percent of customers now shop online, losing the e-commerce game is basically a retailer’s death sentence.
At the same time, it’s harder than ever to win at e-commerce, and for that matter, retail as a whole. The bar for customer satisfaction has been set extraordinarily high. And with the competition stiffening between market leaders like Amazon and Walmart, everyone else needs to start adjusting yesterday.
Specifically, retailers need to transition toward a distributed delivery management model that will allow them to leverage a diverse range of downstream resources to provide a multi-channel home delivery experience.
Defining a Distributed Delivery Management System
Omnichannel retailing is first and foremost an exercise in data management. More shopping channels means more data sources. For example, you might have your brick-and-mortar inventory management software. Then there’s your distribution center inventories. You also have data about your products in transit – on trucks, in the air, being shipped across oceans, waiting at port etc. – which are typically accounted for through a TMS and other supply chain management resources. Then there’s your customer-centric data – your CRMs, your customer success software, your e-commerce shopping portals, and so on.
Thus, the first question you need to answer is “how do you centralize all of this information, normalize it and then use it to make informed decisions within your supply chain?” This need gave birth to distributed order management systems that look at supply chain demand (orders from different channels) and supply at different nodes in the supply chain and optimizes the fulfillment sourcing.
Now, with the increase in e-commerce, the focus is moving to final mile delivery capabilities and customer experience. Similar to supply chain nodes and links, in the final mile, shippers are starting to leverage a combination of resources – private fleet, carriers, agents, crowd resources, pure-play final mile service providers and so on. To be successful, there is a need for a distributed delivery management system that takes all of the supply and demand and figures out the best way to fulfill the delivery and then consolidates the visibility of the delivery across the entire ecosystem.
At a high level, a distributed delivery management system accomplished two mission-critical functions:
- Creates a central, cloud-based hub where your disparate data can be aggregated and normalized for analysis.
- Presents the findings as insights on intuitive, front-end dashboards that are uniquely tailored to each of the primary supply-chain stakeholders.
This effectively creates a single point of operational truth, despite the diverse distribution of touchpoints and data sources within your delivery ecosystem. In other words, you take your disparate, sometimes siloed, delivery assets and unify the operational data of each into a central platform. The better way is to maximize the effectiveness of your existing delivery infrastructure by managing your distributed delivery environment via a central platform.
Shining a light on new value-add opportunities
By centralizing your delivery ecosystem data, you’ve essentially put all the ingredients you need to create new downstream value for your customers at your fingertips.
For example, you can start to more effectively manage many downstream delivery resources simultaneously: private fleets, traditional carriers and on-demand final-mile carriers. However, you can also introduce unconventional delivery methods to fill in gaps, like employee crowdsourcing (something Walmart already does) and even non-employee crowdsourcing.
It sounds unorthodox, and it is. But a distributed delivery management system uses advanced analytics to show you the best avenues to consistent execution, irrespective of the home delivery method.
And it makes perfect sense. After all, omnichannel fulfillment necessitated distributed order management systems. Distributed delivery management solutions perform the same functions, only, they do it for downstream operations. It’s about taking a complex network of touchpoints and connecting the dots to create the fastest route to value time and time again.
Long story short, your destination is success in a challenging retail arena. Distributed delivery management software will show you how to get there.