The retail marketplace requires support for order management across all channels along with the inventory to fill these orders across all channels. Without a cohesive strategy to coordinate and management these business processes across all channels retailers will continue to struggle with the changing demands from consumers.  Flexible and robust order management capabilities is the flip side to the coin of flexible and robust inventory management that supports the new retail marketplace.  The retail market requires a cohesive, flexible and robust business process strategy that can support the current requirements and be flexible enough to sense and respond to new demands.  The business process must support any manner of consumer shopping and purchasing in a manner that is cohesive across the business process. 


I don’t like to refer to a channel anymore when discussing the retail marketplace because discussion of channels implies a separation between order management, inventory placement and product delivery that should not be there.  Order management cannot be overlooked in the business process definition and management strategy reevaluation.  Just as the inventory management business process must focus on function over channel, the order management business process must also focus on function over channel.  This is not hard but requires a careful and thoughtful process to evaluate and define the process that starts with the generic functions initially and build then to support the entire process flow.


This effort can be difficult because the retail culture, especially in the for large legacy retailers, has a strong tendency to separate functions and process into silos.  The order fulfillment silo can be the most difficult to breakdown because of this cultural and business silos that have become ingrained over the years.  Due to these ingrained tendencies the effort to define the business processes will be difficult.  Success in this effort requires an iterative process, a continuous improvement process, that will institute review, analysis and refinement of the process throughout the efforts.


This continuous improvement process is a base requirement to the success of these efforts to define a robust process that first meets the consumer demands and second provides a basis to sense and respond to the changing demands.  This continuous improvement process provides the tools necessary to develop and maintain the order fulfillment business process models as required to support the changing consumer demands.  A key to success is the realization and acceptance that these efforts are not a ‘once and done’ exercise but a continuous effort to maintain the process model through these change requirements.  The large legacy retailers must develop the model that provides the means to provide the effort to maintain the functionality required to support the consumer demands. 


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?