How Intelligent Order Management builds retail supply chain resilience
- Posted on June 14, 2022
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
This article was co-authored by Don Lees, Digital Technology Specialist, Microsoft.
The old adage that the only certainty is uncertainty probably never seemed more apt than it does today. Despite that uncertainty, the success of your retail business – whether online, bricks-and-mortar or both – depends on your agility to respond to whatever’s next.
In retail, your agility can be made or broken by your supply chain resilience. Right now, nearly all retailers are working to make their supply chains more agile (96%) and resilient (90%), according to Forrester.
Your legacy systems for order management, fulfillment and delivery probably don’t support the agility and resilience you need, in large part because they can’t talk to each other. You need interoperability among these systems, regardless of the third-party providers behind them.
The ingenuity behind Intelligent Order Management
At Avanade, we’re helping retailers to overcome these challenges. We’re partnering with Microsoft to bring new technology capabilities to market through Microsoft Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management (IOM) which addresses retailers’ needs for digital order management, fulfillment and delivery, alongside the Microsoft Cloud for Retail. It’s a boon for the many retailers facing new order management challenges right now.
At the core of IOM is an order orchestration engine that enables retailers to automate the fulfillment process so they can manage orders at scale. The engine’s order flow defines how each order is handled, which resource will fulfill it, how it will be delivered and more, always focused on the fastest, most cost-effective delivery.
I recently sat down with Don Lees, one of Microsoft’s leading Dynamics technology experts, to discuss how IOM can help retailers to realize three compelling benefits: greater agility, more actionable insights and a more responsive CX. Here’s a recap of our conversation.
#1: Accelerating agility through integration flexibility
We began our discussion by talking about supply chain challenges and how the configurable, built-in connectors IOM offers, available out of the box, reduce the need to develop heavy, custom interfaces. These connectors put IOM at the hub of an interconnected collection of legacy and digital systems that can come from virtually any technology provider. And retailers aren’t limited to the built-in connectors; because connectors are based on the low-code/no-code Power Platform as Don pointed out: “A retailer’s business users can act swiftly to meet new business requirements and then get back to higher-value tasks.”
In the short term, Don suggested, retailers can deploy IOM faster and more cost-effectively than traditional systems – providing an immediate impact to agility. Longer term, IOM also offers the ability to connect to new order intake, fulfillment and delivery options simply and swiftly. Integrations that previously required weeks of work can be completed in days; complex connections – to SAP, for example – that could take a year, now take just a few weeks. This agility enables retailers to respond faster (and more successfully) to marketplace changes.
#2: Gaining intelligent insights to predict order problems
Next, we discussed how the AI that’s integral to IOM presents huge opportunities for retailers. Recent Forrester Research commissioned by Microsoft found that 56% of companies say the increased the use of machine learning and AI to drive process automation is among the most important aspects of supply chain agility.
And “intelligent” describes not just the AI and ML technologies that go into IOM, but also the insights that retailers can get from IOM out of the box. These insights can help them pinpoint and address problems in their fulfillment and delivery chains that might come, for example, from a single vendor or warehouse that they otherwise might not suspect, as Don highlighted. “Retailers can use IOM insights to reduce inventory and delivery costs, lower lead times, minimize stockouts, improve fulfillment rates, and reduce spoilage of perishable items.”
#3: Turning your supply chain into a CX supercharger
Finally, we talked about the insights and interoperability that IOM enables, as the building blocks of a better CX. Retailers rightly focus on the purchasing and customer-facing components of CX. IOM provides a way to be just as focused on fulfillment and the delivery back end of CX.
“Giving customers more, better, and faster fulfillment options – and making those options work together successfully – is a key to a premier CX,” says Lees. That’s something retailers need if they’re to differentiate themselves right now.
IOM helps to ensure a smooth path through the growing range of order collection points, fulfillment and delivery options. It can help retailers integrate orders from retailer-owned and public marketplaces, mobile apps and traditional methods such as EDI. It can manage order fulfillment in-house or through a 3PL, from a company warehouse or physical store. Retailers can also use IOM to manage deliveries in one shipment or several, to a residence, pickup locker or store – and even, at the store, manage customer fulfillment options such as curbside pickup.
Discover how we’re helping organizations like leading airline retailer KrisShop modernize order fulfillment and its supply chain management through Microsoft Dynamics 365, providing better insights into purchasing behavior, optimizing inventory and ensuring an improved customer experience.