Supply Chain Carols for Online Shopping for the Holiday Season

1 - Supply Chain Carols for Online Shopping for the Holiday Season
2 - I'm Afraid of a White Christmas
3 - Silent Night (Doesn't Exist)
4 - All I Want for Christmas Is (to Cater to) You
5 - Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (but Just for One Night)
6 - 12 Days of Christmas (With 24/7 Inventory Visibility)
7 - Deck the (Warehouse) Halls
8 - We Three Kings (Will Visit Your Store)
9 - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Thanks to Many)
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Supply Chain Carols for Online Shopping for the Holiday Season

by Darryl K. Taft

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I'm Afraid of a White Christmas

A white Christmas may sound charming if you're cozy inside with a cup of cocoa, but if you're working to make holiday deliveries happen, snow can be a dreaded event. Inclement weather in one region could throw off deliveries in many. To accommodate, retailers and shippers need tools that deliver instant notifications of delays, changes or events, as well as the ability to re-route resources in real-time, no matter the complexities involved. This kind of in-depth insight into supply chain snags—weather-related or not—could mean saving the holiday and keeping customers merry.

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Silent Night (Doesn't Exist)

In the age of e-commerce, there's no such thing as order downtime. Orders can pour in 24/7 from all over the world, which means retailers could easily be faced with filling tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of orders, each with its own complexities, in a short time. To execute effectively and avoid back-end delays, companies can tap enterprise order management software. This helps ensure workers keep things moving by allowing them to search for items in other stores, source customer orders from across the supply chain, and check whether delivery commitments are realistic. In today's retail world, nights are never silent.

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All I Want for Christmas Is (to Cater to) You

These days, everyone expects a personalized experience. To deliver in this area, retailers must figure out how to make personal service profitable. While a key part of that is improving item-level visibility into inventory, it's also essential to give customer service representatives the ability to view the customer's profile from an omni-channel perspective. Omni-channel customer service can be achieved with an integrated view of orders, inventory and store-level fulfillment capabilities across the entire enterprise. Making personal service profitable is a balancing act that retailers must master in order to make customers' wishes come true.

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Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (but Just for One Night)

Santa may be able to make all his deliveries in one night, but same-day delivery is still new and challenging for most retailers. It's an area that is gaining steam, however. According to Manhattan's recent holiday shopping survey (conducted in partnership with IDG Research Services), 50 percent of consumers are likely to use same-day delivery when purchasing gifts online. For retailers, a key part of gaining success with same-day delivery is ensuring that they have X-ray vision into their inventory to understand it at a granular level. Knowing that they have the right stock in the right place at the right time is a critical first step to making same-day delivery possible and achieving Santa-level results.

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12 Days of Christmas (With 24/7 Inventory Visibility)

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is one of the oldest carols. The English version dates back to 1780 and French versions go back even further. In those days, any of the gifts outlined were emblematic of true love. In 2014, receiving a partridge in a pear tree in place of an iPad likely suggests another thing entirely—poor gift giving. Bad gifts can be the result of unexpected low inventory. Retailers and suppliers can avoid lost sales, increased costs and issues surrounding out-of-stock items by employing demand forecasting software, which can show evolving demand patterns and help remove the guesswork.

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Deck the (Warehouse) Halls

Companies, homes, sweaters—at the holidays, everything is decked out with lights, glitter and shiny objects. Holiday shoppers only see what is on the shelves and in storefront windows, but the real strength of a retail operation is the warehouse. Here, "picking and packing" to fill orders is a science, but that can only happen if the inventory is there. Retailers need to make sure their warehouse aisles are decked out with product—even if that product is gaudy holiday attire.

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We Three Kings (Will Visit Your Store)

Customers may increasingly purchase online, but brick-and-mortar firms still play a critical role in the omni-channel age. In fact, Manhattan's research found that three-quarters of online shoppers are likely to use the buy-online, pick-up-in-store option this holiday season. This means that retailers must adjust their fulfillment strategies to include brick-and-mortar locations to successfully meet customer demand. Otherwise, shoppers may travel far but return bearing no gifts.

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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Thanks to Many)

Successfully navigating all these behind-the-scenes issues is contingent on the efforts of countless retail players, from warehouse workers to transportation partners to in-store associates and many more. These supply chain heroes work tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that retailers are always ready to execute, and that consumers are able to "be of good cheer" as a result.

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