Posted by Matt Rhodus, Retail Vertical Marketing Expert, NetSuite
Editor’s note: This is the 2nd part of a series of retail “War Stories” the team at NetSuite has gathered during its many discussions with fashion brands and retailers about the biggest challenges they are faced with today. You can view Retail War Stories Part 1: Inventory Management here.
Competing in New York City’s legendary fashion scene requires a fortitude that matches the town’s stalwart reputation. For those who catch a foothold – as this high-end men’s shoe retailer has – survival depends on staying one step ahead of your competition by accelerating with customer expectations. But like many rapidly growing start-up retailers, this one is finding that its systems are holding it back. As it continues to rocket past its current 15 million revenue mark and expedites plans to expand its international presence by opening new brick and mortar stores each year, its systems aren’t acting as business enablers.
The problem? With only a $10,000 budget, the business set up its IT processes on a shoestring, and now finds itself trying to tie disparate order management systems and processes together, thinking that integrating its separate ecommerce and in-store order management systems will enable cross-channel visibility. But without a single source of data for everything associated with that order – information on the customer, the inventory and the order itself – ensuring accurate and timely fulfillment is a fools errand, both for its B2B and B2C sides of the business.
Without a single view of inventory, order and customer data across channels, the business can’t maximize opportunities to streamline logistics, continues to miss opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell, and can’t fulfill consumer expectations of buy online/return in store. In the high-end retail space, without reliable data and efficient processes, it is impossible to drive the sort of personalized experiences that ensure luxury customers feel special, the types that cement and drive brand value and loyalty.
Solution: Harmonize order data on a unified cloud platform
Even retailers with unlimited means have found that investing in integrating disparate legacy systems and tacking on new customer-facing bells and whistles can’t solve their back-end problems. When it comes to order management, all channels must feed data into a single system to ensure accurate and timely fulfillment – and position the business with easy access to data that enables customer experiences that differentiate the brand. This retailer needs to consolidate order data in a single system, a baseline for scaling functionality for more efficient inventory management and customer relationship management. It is the first step on our “Stairway to Customer Experience Nirvana,” -- getting a real-time platform and harmonized view of customer, order and item data so that any channel can consume from that base.
With solid back-end processes rooted in the cloud, the business will have access to real-time data to feed customer-facing systems, and the ability to deliver timely, relevant and personalized experiences that consumers have come to expect. By reconciling its systems on a unified platform, the business will have the agility to innovate at the speed the fashion market demands.