Today's customer expects a smooth shopping experience across all touchpoints. In omnichannel commerce, numerous extremely complex processes have to be mapped in the backend and controlled in such a way that the customer does not notice anything and is satisfied with the goods in his hands. It is essential, for example, that complex warehouse and logistics processes are managed centrally and that all relevant data is communicated to all touch points in real time.
Making different types of warehouse ready for dispatch in e-commerce
Online shops and omnichannel retailers in particular have to keep large stocks in some cases. Classically, these are found in a main warehouse. However, the goods can also be distributed to other warehouses. In this way, retailers can not only have their own main warehouse, but also use branches as a warehouse, or use external logistics providers. Using drop shippers, for example, the company's own product range can be expanded with relatively low investment costs. There is also the option of having goods delivered directly to the end customer from the manufacturer in its own name. These and other possibilities can be realized with a backend system such as the ROQQIO Commerce Cloud.
Although such a system can ultimately be used to make any place with stocks ready for dispatch, not all warehouses are the same. In operational business it makes a huge difference how the pick-and-pack process is carried out in the various warehouses. While the orders in the main warehouse are usually route-optimised and possibly picked with set-up trucks and hundreds or thousands of parcels leave the warehouse every day via dispatch lines, the sales staff in the branch office search for the goods in the warehouse area and prepare them for dispatch at a small packing table. These different processes have to be taken into account in the back-end system, because in some cases they require additional system integrations, such as those of warehouse management systems.
For the customer this differentiation is irrelevant, he should not even know from which warehouse he is served. Communication must therefore be consistent in every case.
Create virtual warehouses and keep stocks up-to-date
In decentralized warehouses, the coordination and communication between the individual warehouses and the company-wide inventory management system is essential, because it must be clear at all times which goods are in which quantity at which location. Otherwise, problems such as over-sales quickly arise. And this is extremely delicate - it means that a customer request may not be fulfilled and the customer is left disappointed or angry. For traders who sell on marketplaces, overselling is problematic for another reason: If the cancellation rate rises above a certain level, this can lead to a lower ranking or even to the account being blocked. Amazon, for example, handles this very strictly.
In order to avoid such annoyances, it is crucial to keep stocks in the various warehouses and sales channels up to date. This is achieved via "virtual warehouses" in which the physical stocks are accumulated. In simple terms, sales, reservations and safety stocks are deducted and the current value is communicated to the respective sales channels almost in real time.
The virtual warehouses are created, configured and managed in the ROQQIO Commerce Cloud. The stocks are imported via a CSV file or transferred via API/XML. The Commerce Cloud thus becomes the inventory management system for all touchpoints. This is where all orders come together and are processed.
Prioritization & routing: finding the right warehouse
Virtual warehouses can be assigned to individual sales channels. For example, merchants can specify that orders received via Amazon are to be shipped exclusively from the main warehouse and via Dropshipper; in this case, the stocks held in the stores are not sent to the marketplace.
Routing can also be configured differently. Each warehouse has attributes such as address or capacity. An intelligent algorithm can automatically determine the best shipping location (e.g. main warehouse or store) for each sales order. For example, georouting is used to determine which warehouse is closest to the customer or which can be used to optimize shipping costs. Orders can also be split into different jobs, for example if a warehouse does not have all the ordered items in stock. Which warehouse is used therefore depends on the ordered items or also on the desired shipping method.
If an order with several items cannot be shipped from one warehouse, it is split into several shipping orders. Each shipping order can be fulfilled individually and in different ways. An example: A customer orders three items in the shop. Two of the items are located in the main warehouse and are dispatched there via the warehouse management system. An item is located in the store and is dispatched there by employees (ship-from-store).
The customer in turn wants information on the status of each delivery. It is important that communication is regulated uniformly despite the different dispatch locations. This is realized in the ROQQIO Commerce Cloud via so-called trigger points. A trigger point could be, for example, that the order has been received. Others could be that the goods have been shipped or cancelled. Each trigger point automatically triggers an e-mail. Customer communication is thus the same for each shipping order.
Include return options
In omnichannel commerce, the customer not only buys via various touch points, but also wants to return the goods flexibly. For example, it must be possible to return goods ordered online to the local store. It must therefore be possible to process the original shipping order regardless of the return location. The ROQQIO Commerce Cloud makes this possible. With the returns module, store employees can process the online order, initiate the return and issue a receipt to the customer. Amounts already paid are automatically refunded to the customer via the payment method originally used. Other forms of reverse processing, such as via dropshipper, can also be mapped with the backend platform.
Advantages of several decentralized warehouses
If a retailer has several warehouses, this minimizes the risk to his goods. In addition, the integration of external logistics providers means that he can easily absorb order peaks, for example at Christmas or during cyber weeks.
A comprehensive network of warehouses also offers the possibility of georouting: Which warehouse is closest to the end customer? From where can you ship at the lowest cost? This means that retailers can not only save on transport costs, but also increase customer satisfaction, as delivery times are shorter and transport can be made more sustainable overall – a point that is likely to become even more important as calls for sustainable shipping options grow louder.