The Retailer Barrier: Scale for Survival, but Orchestrate for Success

This week I listened to the CommerceNext Virtual Summit and heard Sucharita Kodali, Vice President and Principal Analyst of Forrester Research, told the audience that retailers who have a curbside offering will thrive through the ‘new normal’ in retail & eCommerce.

Retailers are starting to realize that with foot traffic dramatically decreasing they need to digitize immediately. Today’s new normal is driving digitalization, transformation, omnichannel delivery, and unified commerce systems. If in the past, curbside was a nice to have, free delivery was a differentiator and BOPIS was a secondary channel, this is no longer the case. It’s a retail storm out there, and only those with the most immediate offerings and digital presence will survive. Sadly not all retailers are there, some.

What’s really behind the new normal in retail

This retail storm we are experiencing is made up of a few factors. COVID, while the main driver to change, should not be mistaken for the game-changer. That started with marketplaces. And marketplaces are thriving, augmenting their offering and growing at unprecedented speed.

Retail today is ruled by giant marketplaces that perfected customer experience with robust technology and fulfillment network. The supply chain digitalization that retailers planned for 2021 and beyond is at the head now, and if they don’t execute immediately, they will lose critical market – market share that marketplaces like Uber (in its acquisition with Postmates) will take with new offerings like grocery, and convenience shoppers.

What retailers need to scale and compete

Marketplaces have the know-how and scale to outplay retailers. And most brands are not equipped to stand on their own and compete. They need the digital strategy, technology, and fulfillment network to create the branded Amazon experience. They need the partner network to help them do it fast, and they need the right solutions to take them to scale.

We recently went live with a major retailer in the US for these exact reasons. An innovative retailer partnered with us to extend their driver network of third party delivery fleets, scale their curbside, and BOPIS offering while implementing the BI they needed to ensure the KPIs were met and the processes were optimized. They reached out to us because they understood today’s pains and opportunities.

I think what really stood out with them was that they were innovative and understood that scaling could not come at the expense of the customer. That, while using new and diverse delivery partners and offering different fulfillment channels across all their hundreds of locations, their top objective was to create a streamlined, consistent consumer experience that would delight their customers. Regardless of technologies and providers, they needed an orchestration solution that optimized the processes of a fragmented logistics and delivery system. (Feel free to watch the webinar recording of Embracing Disruption: Practical Insights and Strategies for eCommerce Success where our customer goes into detail.)

Over the past two years, I have spoken of the ideal open, connected logistics network. I have written about the importance of coming together to offer all retailers the opportunity to stand up against marketplaces and give logistics companies the means to take on this new business. It’s never been more true. And its never been more accessible. The only barrier today is not the technology or processes, but the brand’s unease to move forward and take initiative.  But now is the time.

Consumer digital spend is growing. Money allocated for travel and entertainment is being funneled into retail, home furnishings, grocery, etc. The holiday season will be here in a moment’s time. Retailers need to break the barrier and make growth and scale a reality, orchestrating the optimal logistics network to create your brand’s exceptional experience.

Guy Bloch

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