The scope of disruption in day to day life from business, mental health, to financial well being, has forced everyone to adapt to a “new normal” way of living. While the full economic and social impact of the COVID 19 pandemic remains unknown, we have undoubtedly seen an everlasting change in the way we interact with each other and work on a daily basis. Online life has emerged as mainstream – from shopping to dating and telemedicine – the world is simply more digital.
As consumers adopt this new digital way of living, we have seen double-digit growth in the e-commerce industry, which happened in a single month. Recognizing the why behind this impressive growth during the COVID 19 pandemic comes down to a simple concept: accelerate the adoption of a digital first strategy. The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry, which already had sophisticated electronic B2B and supply chain integrations in place, strengthened their online data exchange and third-party eCommerce marketplaces’ presence allowing them to profit by giving consumers the right products at the right time.
Social distancing required that consumers have the capability to procure goods and services from home using e-commerce platforms. This means that manufacturers are closer to consumers than ever before – very much a part of the day-to-day experience. There has undoubtedly been a learning curve for leadership across industries, and sharing solutions, positive outcomes, and sharing this knowledge has never been more welcomed.
4 lessons learned that are most relevant to CPG executives:
1. Real-time OMS-ERP integration will advance the customer experience
Sales order management is a series of interconnected touchpoints and stakeholders, that work together to enable customers to order the right products and receive them at the right time.
B2B and B2C companies are choosing to use an integrated and responsive order management systems to match the pace of evolution of e-commerce and to cope with the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The adoption of an Order Management System (OMS), drastically reduced sell-out, enabled prompt delivery, enhanced the usability of e-commerce platforms, and strengthened brands and revenue for the CPG industry. Nevertheless, the OMS needs to be tightly integrated to the ERP in order to obtain the most productive and profitable order management cycle possible.
The real-time (or near to) OMS-ERP integration became a necessity. CIOs recognized that this integration could indubitably advance e-commerce, POS, and customer service performance during the COVID 19 pandemic and in a more competitive digital market.
2. Companies that centrally manage inventory across multiple marketplaces achieve more sales
In February-March 2020, retailers were flooded with waves of panicked customers clearing their shelves of basic items such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, and bottled water.
Constraints in the availability of physical goods drove a lot of traffic to online shopping. Initially, consumers engaged with the usual sites like Amazon, Google, then large grocers like Albertsons, but were eventually were forced to shop on any platform that had items available.
The reliance on the digital marketplace created an environment that encompasses a true 360-degree customer view as online brands became more in sync with customer data. The result: companies that centrally managed inventory across multiple marketplaces achieved more sales.
Non-traditional manufacturers that previously lacked physical distribution capabilities were able to control the sales processes using e-commerce platforms to place products into digital marketing channels, fulfillment centers, and retail stores efficiently and with reduced cost to new market entry.
It is imperative for companies to take control of their sales process to own the customer flow, even when managed by third-party online marketplaces, in B2B , B2B2C, or B2C.
3. Automated delivery & shipping forecasts are core competencies
In digital sales, the direct order placement to the fulfillment center relies on sound integration to the supply chain.
Reduced inventory breaks enable accurate delivery scheduling and shipping forecasts from both local and remote distribution centers. When orders are placed, the company is able to verify product availability in real-time, segregate the quantities for fulfillment, trigger the logistics delivery process, and inform the buyer of when goods will be shipped and received. This is true end to end integration.
In the real world this process touches several internal and external systems that need to exchange data. One integration use case includes:
- Delivery address enrichment and validation
- Warehouse management systems
- Order pickup and handling
- Carrier ordering and scheduling
- Delivery tracking systems
Thus requiring the orchestrating the flow of data and best practice processes to integrate local, remote, and cloud-based systems.
4. Increased online shopping requires access to remote inventory data & real-time production forecasts
The increased online shopping traffic needs complete remote inventory data access which impacts the production forecast implemented in the ERP.
Third-party distributors sometimes manage fulfillment centers, but goods that are sold to or distributed to retailers can also be viewed as remote inventory. With this digital infrastructure, manufacturers have visibility into supply chain tracking, can monitors POS activity, and transfer goods to more efficient models, or process online sales for local retail fulfillment. By having this granular and comprehensive product level visibility, the ERP can predict the correct production forecasts, mitigating the risk of sell out at any point in time.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the current global virus outbreak and the impact it has had on the day to day life. For CPG manufacturers, adding an omnichannel sales practice to take control of e-commerce is one fundamental business practice that will be a foundation going forward. Moreover, the single most important technological challenge is to orchestrate all management systems inside and outside the company to meet ever-changing market demands.
To see how the Digibee Hybrid Integration Platform has helped companies accelerate the adoption of a digital first strategy, check out our customer success stories.