Synthesizing Viewpoints to Enable True Digital Commerce Success

Over the last few years many firms have been ever so slowly struggling to define visions of what digital transformation looked like for their company, and how they might be able to successfully begin to implement this vision.

For many this has been a leisurely Special Project process of future focused navel gazing while sipping large lattes and eating freakishly fat lemon cranberry muffins!

Sadly, in many cases these approaches have delivered little, and sometimes at great expense.

However, following the WHO pandemic announcement on March 11th, the need to pivot quickly to a digital world in response to the Corona Virus Pandemic became shockingly real, and immediate action was now required, in some cases for sheer survival of the organization.

Click here to read the full article by author Jeff Ashcroft, originally published on LinkedIn 

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Jeff Ashcroft, Account Achievement Visionary at Etail Solutions, has over 30 years of logistics and supply chain experience. In addition to holding senior level positions at Hudson’s Bay Company, Tibbett & Britten Group, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Tompkins International, and others, since 2016 Jeff has been selected as an IBM global commerce futurist and influencer. Ashcroft also publishes the Supply Chain Network blog and @SupplyChainNtwk twitter feed – which regularly appear on top supply chain blog lists and are considered among the most connected organizations in supply chain management.

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce, Article 8: What’s The Big Idea? Applications and Examples

Distributed Logistics is about more than just dispersing inventory to be closer to potential customers. It’s about a Big Idea. 

Or, more accurately, Distributed Logistics is about three Big Ideas: 

  1. Distributed Logistics is about managing your sales channels and your inventory supply as a single integrated network; 
  2. Distributed Logistics is driven by yield management – seeking to realize the most profit possible from the inventory you have available right now;  
  3. Distributed Logistics is about creating options as digital commerce evolves in ways none of us can predict. 

How does this all translate into real-world success? 

For the past decade, Etail Solutions has worked with hundreds of clients across dozens of business models. But broadly speaking, these clients fit into one of three broad groups: Online distributors, ecommerce service providers, and brands. 

Read the rest of this post on LinkedIn to see real-world examples of how these organizations have implemented distributed logistics. Or watch the accompanying video on LinkedIn.  

This article and accompanying video are part of an eight-part series exploring Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce. To start at the beginning of the series, click here to view the first videoDistributed Logistics for Digital Commerce: A Change in Paradigm and Why it Matters on LinkedIn.  

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce, Article 7: Distributed Order Management (DOM)

Imagine the power of being able to make money even after you’ve made a sale. 

That’s the idea behind distributed order management – often referred to as DOM. 

In this series of videos and articles, we’ve talked a lot about taking a yield management approach to inventory planning.  

Yield management focuses on how to get the most profit possible out of the inventory that is available right now. DOM is the key to accomplishing that because the objective of DOM is to route an individual order to the most cost-effective location for fulfillment. 

DOM is a point-in-time profit maximization tool.  When an order comes in, DOM is aware of all fulfillment options and all inventory available for sale wherever it might be located.  Then DOM automates evaluating all fulfillment scenarios before selecting the best combination of available inventory and fulfillment method in order to yield the highest profit while meeting the required delivery timeline. 

To learn more about distributed order management read the rest of this articleor watch the accompanying videoon LinkedIn.  To start at the beginning of the series, click here to view the first video Distributed Logistics for Ecommerce: A Change in Paradigm and Why it Matterson LinkedIn. 

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Article 6: Dynamic Pricing Control

Pricing and price strategy are the foundations of a successful digital commerce business.

Most shoppers admit that they turn to ecommerce and marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart because they are attracted by the promise of low prices.  They choose products based on pricing comparisons. They select sellers based on the availability of “free” shipping – which is nothing more than the seller’s decision on how to price their shipping.

But pricing rules ecommerce in a much more fundamental way.

That’s because most businesses are in business to drive a profit. The right pricing strategy creates a steady, predictable stream of profit. That frees up resources for advertising and promotion, for investments in staffing and infrastructure, and for focusing on growing the business without working 24/7.

The concept of yield management is central to understanding distributed logistics. The goal of a yield management approach is to get the most profit possible at any point in time from the inventory you have available.

That’s the point of dynamic pricing.  It’s a tool for changing the price you offer based on changes to product costs and to market conditions in real time – but always with the goal of managing profitability on inventory available for that specific transaction in line with your overall pricing strategy.

There are three steps to implementing a dynamic pricing capability:

  • Understanding product costs
  • Understanding market conditions
  • Understanding triggers that might call for a price adjustment

Done right, dynamic pricing unites sales and operations strategy in real-time. Done wrong, and you can quickly dig your brand into a hole and create major issues with your sales channels.

 

To learn more about dynamic pricing  read the rest of this article or watch the accompanying video on LinkedIn. 

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Article 5: Dynamic Inventory Publishing

Digital commerce is about yield management.  

Traditional inventory management tends to focus on optimizing forecasting to have the right amount of inventory in the right place. The idea is to match each unit of inventory to a potential sale. A unit of product forecast to be sold at Target, for example, can’t also be forecast to be sold at Walmart. 

But digital commerce adds another layer to that approach. That’s because, in digital commerce, you do have the ability to expose each unit of inventory to multiple shoppers across multiple sales channels simultaneously. You can expose the same inventory to online shoppers at target.com and walmart.com at the same time. In fact, you should be exposing that same inventory to as many shoppers in as many different listings across all the marketplaces as makes sense for reaching potential shoppers 

Dynamic inventory publishing is an important tool in making that happen. 

As a brand or seller, you know how important it is to offer your product everywhere your customers shop.  That means being on multiple sales channels including marketplaces like amazon.com or walmart.com, retail sites like bestbuy.com or homedepot.com, on your own branded website, and retail stores. 

In past articles and videos, we’ve seen how each of these sales channels has their own requirements for publishing listings and for categorization.  But they all have one thing in common: they quickly and severely will punish sellers for going out of stock and overselling. 

The idea behind dynamic inventory publishing is to tell all your sales channels how much inventory you have available to sell – while minimizing the risk of overselling. 

 

To learn more about dynamic inventory publishing read the rest of this article or watch the accompanying video on LinkedIn. 

Industry Thought Leader Jeff Ashcroft Joins Etail Solutions

Etail Solutions is pleased to announce that we have appointed supply chain and logistics veteran Jeff Ashcroft as the company’s first Account Achievement Visionary focusing on the retail, brand and logistics sectors across North America.

Ashcroft brings more than 30 years of logistics and supply chain experience to Etail Solutions including senior level positions at the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Tibbett & Britten Group, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Constellation Research Group and SCI Logistics. Ashcroft’s most recent role before Etail Solutions was as vice president of business development and general manager – Canada at Tompkins International.

Ashcroft is an industry thought leader, regularly writes for industry publications, and has been selected and continues as an IBM global commerce futurist and influencer since 2016. He also publishes the Supply Chain Network blog and @SupplyChainNtwk twitter feed – which regularly appear on top supply chain blog lists and are considered among the most connected organizations in supply chain management.

“Etail Solutions works with top brands and retailers to create and execute digital commerce strategies in an ecommerce future none of us can predict,” said Michael Anderson, Etail Solutions CEO and cofounder. “Bringing Jeff Ashcroft to our team demonstrates our commitment to providing our customers with deep expertise and new ways of thinking about supply chain challenges while growing their digital commerce channels.”

Etail Solutions is a leading digital commerce management platform for multi-channel brands and retailers.  Founded in 2010, Etail Solution’s customers many of the top 1/2 of 1 percent of online marketplace sellers.

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Series, Article 4: Regional Inventory Visibility

Ecommerce marketers. What if I told you that you had a superpower? One you probably never heard of? And one your Ops guys would love to have but probably don’t know about? 

It’s called “regional inventory visibility”. And believe me, it’s much more exciting that it sounds. 

Here’s why. 

As marketers we understand the power of Amazon Prime and its one-and-two day guaranteed delivery program.  

Walmart.com, eBay and other online marketplaces quickly followed Amazon’s lead and to offer their own programs. Now online shoppers expect fast, often free, shipping wherever they shop. Participating in these programs has become table stakes. 

And the need to meet shopper expectations for fast delivery doesn’t just affect marketplace sellers. One study by Arvato showed that 24 percent of online shoppers would cancel their order if delivery estimates were not fast enough to meet their expectations. 

The results of participating in marketplace accelerated delivery programs are dramatic: Amazon estimates that assigning the Prime badge to a SKU results in an average 52% lift in sales. Some studies have shown up at a 500% lift in other categories like perfume. 

Basically there are two ways to participate in these programs: 

  1. Amazon FBA. Solid, somewhat expensive and puts Amazon in control of your business. As recent events have shown, this became be a problem for some sellers when Amazon locked non-essential shipments out of FBA. FBA is a good alternative for the right products, but probably shouldn’t be your only option. And it’s pretty much limited to sales you make on Amazon, not sales made on your other marketplace channels. 
  1. Do it yourself. Or have someone like a 3PL or fulfillment service do it for you. Here’s where it gets interesting. 

Let’s say you have inventory in a distribution center in Salt Lake City. There is a geographic area around this DC where you can ship product profitability using two-day ground or other shipping options. In fact, you are probably already doing it. 

So you need to create a “Shipping Template” that basically maps this area and communicates to Amazon and the other marketplaces that “for shoppers within this area, I want to participate in your guaranteed delivery program at this price. For shoppers outside this area, show my standard listing, price and shipping options.” 

That’s where regional inventory visibility comes in – the process only works if you “know” you have inventory available in a location near the online shopper and then can communicate that to the channel so the channel can show the right listing based on your shipping template. 

To learn more about using regional shipping templates and the four other requirements for participating in marketplace guaranteed delivery programs on a regional basis, read the rest of this article or watch the accompanying video on LinkedIn. 

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Series, Article 3: Master SKU Management

Digital commerce offers brands and online sellers an unprecedented opportunity to offer their products everywhere their customer shop. 

Whether it’s on online marketplaces like Amazon, through retailer sites like Target.com, through new formats like Google Shopping, through your own web storefront or through retail outlets, it’s never been easier to reach your customers. 

It’s also never been tougher to get it right. And the penalties for getting it wrong are high. 

That’s because each of these sales channels has its own rules, communication methods, content requirements, and miscellaneous specifications and requirements.  

Get it wrong and, best case, your listing won’t publish. Get it wrong too often, in a way that might be misleading channel shoppers, or in a way that the channel thinks you might be trying to game their system, and you’ll get thrown off the channel. 

Fortunately, there’s a solution. It’s called Master SKU management….

 

To learn more about what that solution is and how it works in Michael Anderson, CEO of Etail Solutions’ full article, published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/distributed-logistics-digital-commerce-master-sku-michael-anderson/

 

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Want to start from the beginning of this eight-part “Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce” series of videos and companion articles? Check out the other sessions, accessible from our blog landing page, or the Etail Solutions LinkedIn page, where this and other interesting and timely articles and videos we publish can be found: www.linkedin.com/company/etail-solutions/

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Series, Article 2: Primary Functions of Distributed Logistics

Distributed Logistics is about “Yield Management”. This means that it is the strategic control of inventory to sell the right product to the right customer at the right time for the right price.” Distributed logistics connects all your online sales channels with all of your sources of inventory and then manages it as an integrated network. It can seem complex; but the video shows how it breaks down to five touchpoints that are required to sell on any digital commerce channel and how they relate your fulfillment strategy.

Understanding those touchpoints – and how well your current fulfillment options handle them – is a great first step to creating a digital logistics strategy and boosting your inventory yield and ROI.

Read the full article, posted on our LinkedIn page, to find out how to do that and what those touchpoints are.  If you’re interested in learning more and want to watch the companion video that goes with this article click here.

Distributed Logistics for Digital Commerce Series, Article 1: A Change in Paradigm and Why It Matters

Distributed logistics is the capability to place, manage, fulfill and leverage inventory dispersed across owned warehouses, 3PLs, retail and other options to be physically close to potential customers.

In uncertain times, distributed logistics is an important tool is devising an online sales strategy focused on creating flexibility and options to meet an unpredictable future.

And to make matters more confusing, often these models overlap: a brand selling to Target, for example, may find its fastest moving products carried by target.com with the option for Target to ship the product from a Target fulfillment center or from a Target store.

This is the first in an eight-part series of videos and articles focusing on distributed logistics and how it can create options for succeeding in the unpredictable world of online selling….

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