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Diego Pantoja Navajas, VP WMS Development

In case you missed the milestone, ZDNet reported that this last Cyber Monday “represented the largest online sales day in history” with estimates showing $6.59 billion dollars spent by consumers. 

Cyber Monday is once again a success. 

Oh! And in case you were wondering whether those sales were made via mobile or desktop – CNBC reported that mobile stole the show.

So, we all understand that ecommerce works. These numbers represent its success. However, they also represent a lot of outstanding promises made to customers, and therefore, they represent a lot of risk.

How are all these orders and all this merchandise going to be fulfilled?

In the time since Cyber Monday was first conceived – a little more than a decade ago – consumers have embraced making purchases from their mobile devices and proven themselves more than willing to click a button to buy gifts for themselves and their relatives. With the ease of online shopping and the prevalence of omnichannel experiences, digital gifting has taken off without a hitch and continues to grow and grow and grow with no end in sight. Furthermore, estimates for the number of mobile devices in use by 2020 are over 11 billion. As intense as this activity is now, it’s going to double in just a few years.

Businesses should rejoice in the fact that they have done a stellar job in creating a seamless multichannel shopping experience and that the marketplace has responded

How are all these orders and all this merchandise going to be fulfilled?

While retail has spent a decade perfecting the shopping experience, they haven’t been as thorough or diligent in perfecting their logistics or fulfillment to the same degree.

That represents a major disconnect on the part of businesses. Customers, after all, are expecting their online orders to be processed as quickly as their payments were. They are expecting that all the orders made over the Thanksgiving weekend and that are still coming in – will be fulfilled with the same thoroughness that helped make the sale.

From now until the end of the year fulfillment will take center stage in global commerce. It is time for fulfillment to shine. It is how businesses will differentiate themselves from one another.

And anyone with any experience in the supply chain industry understands that therein is the problem. Supply Chain failures are a real threat to business.

The problem with fulfillment – right now, this holiday season – is a problem of scale. Too many online orders are coming in, and retailers are having a hard time managing the backlog. 

Think about it. Orders lead to picking and packing. Items have to be accounted for and sortable. Outbound processes have to be determined to get merchandise out of the distribution center and on the way to either a store shelf or directly to a connected customer. 

In an attempt to mitigate the problem, businesses may be looking for bodies to throw at the supply chain problem. But seasonal, frantic, hiring isn’t the answer.

The issue is simply that fulfillment has to catch up with selling. The selling experience is connected, cloud-driven, user friendly, and dynamic. Meanwhile, fulfillment as a process is outdated. If it’s not being run on paper or a spreadsheet, it’s being run on a highly customized, on-premises, ERP-style, machine – a dinosaur – without real-time visibility into inventory, not to mention across an entire supply chain network.

In short, the connected consumer isn’t interacting with a connected solution. They think they are. Consumers think that the businesses they are interacting with have a fulfillment backend that is connected, cloud-driven, user friendly, and dynamic. That is the ultimate cause of the discrepancy between the sales process and the fulfillment process. Expectations are misaligned with technological reality.

Conquer Supply chain and ERP processes.

Explore Modern End-to-End Supply Chain for Real Business Growth. 

A connected consumer requires a connected fulfillment ecosystem. 

Optimizing logistics for the digital era can’t only be about adding more employees, routes, and trucks.  Optimizing logistics is about having a system in place that is able to manage inventory at the macro and micro level.  A connected distribution center is able to manage inventory because it has visibility into inventory across the entire supply chain and across the logistics network – down to individual units. It is granular and expansive and it reacts and expands as the market requires.

And the only way to meet these needs and expectations is with dynamic and powerful software – akin to the technology that made the promise in the first place

And the technology exists. On the cloud, no less.  Cloud-based, warehouse technology available to anyone with a smart phone, an account, and access to the internet.  

At Oracle WMS Cloud, our development team has spent nearly the same decade since Cyber Monday was born perfecting cloud-based warehouse management. There’s no reason for companies not to have dynamic, scalable, cloud-based, warehouse management software supporting their supply chains.  

This fulfillment gap – the misalignment of expectation and delivery can be solved with process automation and efficiency management. It’s the only way retailers will meet the demands of continued ecommerce growth.

If you’re currently digging yourself out of a huge hole and this high season already has you stressed, and you’re already spending it at the office supporting your infrastructure instead of with your family, then maybe it’s time to experience the benefits of a cloud-based WMS.

And don’t forget to breathe.

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