Technology’s role in delivering the right shopping experience is becoming extremely significant and an imperative for retailers
Ushasri Tirumala, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Manhattan Associates demystifyies the SCM market and solutions landscape and how it is changing the scheme of things in the retail industry. Excerpts
How are you leveraging India for your operations? Manhattan Associates India Operations, also known as the India Innovation Centre was set up in 2002 in Bangalore and currently employs around 1200 associates. We work in a distributed setup with innovation teams across both US and India offices. A major part of engineering and innovation work happens from Bangalore office. The Indian operations support R&D, Professional Services, Customer Support & Cloud Services for Global customers across Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. Can you demystify the current supply chain landscape as traditional retail shades out and we need new SCM for the new normal digital age? The emergence of digital natives, sophisticated consumer technology and omni-channel customer behaviors are redefining commerce and the technology required to manage a modern, multichannel supply chain. 2017 was an eventful year which saw many retailers across the globe experiment with new age technologies that are redefining the way organizations manage their inventory, allocate re- sources and deliver customer delight at every touchpoint, be it online or offline. In 2018 and beyond, technology powered supply chains will play a pivotal role in navigating through this new commerce landscape to enable omni-channel experience and single view of inventory across multiple channels and networks. One will also see emerging technologies such as Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics, IOT etc. starting to provide more capabilities to enhance insights and customer experience.
In the Store :For most modern retailers, the need to move to an omnichannel operations model is a given in order to compete for the connected consumer. The enablement of the store network as distribution points for inventory should be an advantage against online competitors that have no physical footprint. However, without investment in systems designed for omnichannel from the start, those stores begin to drag margins down instead of raising them up, because of all the appeasements and workarounds required to deliver on the customer promise.
In the Warehouse: In the warehouse, it is all about optimizing your traditional DCs for omnichannel. In the past, distribution centers simply shipped merchandise to retail-
ers. Today’s DCs must be able to handle ecommerce orders as well.
What are the best practices you advocate for retailers to evolve to the next level and create a seamless omni channel strategy?
Technology’s role in delivering the right shopping experience is becoming extremely significant and an imperative for retailers. Digital-savvy customers expect retailers to deliver an engaging customer experience both in-store and online. Retailers that create strong digital experiences will attract new customers and gain their loyalty. Hence, solutions that enable the omni-channel experience while optimizing current business operations and providing a single view of global inventory are a necessity.
Real-time inventory sourcing optimization -- being able to deliver omnichannel profitably is needed to survive, and only 10% of industry leaders believe they can make a profit while fulfilling omnichannel demand. The reason is because retailers are trying to deliver very complex capabilities with solutions that were designed when 4 or 5 distribution centers was considered sophisticated. Most of the solutions being used today were never designed with omnichannel in mind, and require a tremendous amount of effort, baling wire and scotch tape to pull off; and every one of those appeasements or workarounds erodes profitability.
There is no way for a human to consider the number of constraints required today to determine the most profitable way to source an item, when hundreds of options are available and many of them are active stores serving a local market. So how do we decide where to source the item? Heuristic computer problem-solving creates the opportunity to consider thousands of potential options in real-time to determine the most profitable option.
How is Cloud changing the scheme of things?
It’s not just technology that is moving faster. The nature of relationships between retailers and customers, warehouses and associates, and carriers and shippers is changing quickly. The cloud makes it easier to get transformational technology into the hands of users and keep it updated. Solutions deployed on the cloud offer the flexibility, scalability and a lower TCO (Total cost of ownership) option that retailers need. Given that retailers are already burdened with stringent IT budgets, cloud solutions enable retailers to focus more on customer experience rather than on CAPEX investments of on-premise solutions.
With the ever-changing retail landscape and customer demands, retailers need to constantly update their strat- egy. Solutions deployed on the cloud enable faster delivery of innovation to the market. With access to the latest technology versions, upgrades are virtually a non-event in solutions deployed on the cloud. Retailers can focus on the right strategy in the field rather than worrying about technology upgrades and changes. Solutions deployed on the cloud can not only drive optimization in a low margin environment but also help sustain competitive advantage in an ever-changing environment.
For retailers who are interested in delivering on their omnichannel promises profitably, Manhattan Associates offers Manhattan Active Omni, the most sophisticated and technologically advanced ordering, optimization and engagement platform ever created for the retail industry.
How is Manhattan approaching the market and your strategy? How do you stack up with the competition and your key differentiators?
Manhattan’s solutions received the top score in Forrester’s Omni-Channel Order Management Wave. Manhattan Associates is proud to be a leader nine times in a row in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Warehouse Management Systems.
Manhattan’s omnichannel solutions are focused on the following three tenets:
l Actionable customer insight enriched with transaction detail and predictive adversity identification means better engagement and enduring customer loyalty.
l The most technologically advanced order orchestration engine and automated intelligent optimization means realizing promised delivery speed and maximized profitability.
l Unified associate tools for in-store customer experience, inventory and fulfillment mean a more skillful workforce and better buying experiences.
Manhattan’s Supply Chain solutions are focused on the following three tenets:
l Only solution that can combine wholesale, store replenishment and digital order fulfillment within the same solution. With our solution, one DC can dynamically handle any order type with reduced order processing times.
l Only solution to orchestrate fulfillment tasks spanning man and machine. We know robotics is coming, but we know humans aren’t going anywhere.
l Our solution provides actionable insights and streamlined mobile workflows within a single solution, maximizes associate productivity.