In distribution terms, everything has become omnichannel, from click and collect, to the warehouse where products are stored for distribution across multiple retail channels. In light of this new model, international brands with seasonal merchandise, across different channels and geographical zones (including multi-brands, independent or franchised stores, and e-commerce sites), having developed “store-to-web” or “web-to-store” strategies comprising delivery services (either to a store or the customer’s home address), are facing a challenge that is difficult to overcome.
Managing Multiple Parameters
How can companies manage all these various parameters, estimate demand in each country and sales channel, and decide what quantities to move into one supply circuit without impacting another? “Before, the supply chain was fairly linear. Suppliers delivered to warehouses, who took care of deliveries for the wholesale and store networks. More often than not, a separate warehouse was dedicated to e-commerce. Today, we can no longer think in silos. Instead we need to estimate demand and consolidate everything in order to identify the right quantities to deliver, at the right time and to the right place – to set allocation priorities. Providing a seamless pathway to the customer also has an impact on the supply chain. How can you make sure the right product is in the right sales channel at the right time?” asks Olivier Chiono, Retail Director at Cegid.
Today, we can no longer afford to think in silos. Instead we need to estimate demand and consolidate everything in order to identify the right quantities to deliver, at the right time and to the right place – to set allocation priorities.
The all-importance of “Real Time”
In order to ensure a seamless pathway to the customer while offering click-and-collect or e-reservation services, it is necessary to retain stock visibility, no matter where items are being stored; in the same way, it is essential to alert the sales person that an item has been reserved via the website. “To make this happen, you need a platform that’s capable of managing these sorts of bi-directional exchanges,” stresses Olivier Chiono. This is the solution Cegid can provide, partly via its ERP Fashion Orliweb and advanced planning software, which includes advanced allocation mechanisms capable of estimating quantities required by taking into account current demand, and partly via the Yourcegid Retail Y2 platform, with its centralised database capable of delivering a unique client file across all channels, regardless of their point of contact with the brand. Today, this solution for steering stock availability across all networks is pushing even further into its omnichannel functionality via the new e-commerce platform Yourcegid Retail WebStore, which manages all sales channels whilst accounting for the type of sales flux experienced by the brand in question.
Futuristic Payments: a new card for retailers to play
Mobile payment, virtual money, connected devices, biometrics: new methods of payment are cropping up all the time. But amidst all the buzz and gadgets, what is the best way for retailers to approach this abundance of innovations?
“Take a selfie to pay for your shopping” – MasterCard’s signature concept was the subject of a great deal of press coverage (often laced with snarky humour) when the company unveiled its plans a few months ago. However, the concept remains symbolic in the popular resurgence of payment method technology; nowadays GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) provides for cash desk payments.
Optimising the Customer Experience
Hot on Samsung’s heels, Apple has just launched ApplePay. The tech giant is aiming to simplify purchases as much as possible and bring greater fluidity to the transaction process. In its latest ad campaign, Australian bank ANZ promises greater simplicity for consumers with this new method of payment.
The appeal is likely to resonate with retailers, as a 2015 survey by leading market research company, the Ipsos institute, found that 44% of sellers thought that mobile payment methods represented an opportunity for them to improve and streamline their customer relations. “This is the current trend: customers and retailers are demanding new payment methods that are innovative, fast, easy and cross-channel. The major challenge is to provide services that provide genuine added value. Success will not come from payment services alone – however simple and accessible those services may be. It is also necessary to promote the benefits that they will bring to the consumer. Services such as ApplePay allow customers to combine their loyalty cards with their credit or debit cards. For these e-Wallet concepts, geofencing services and personalised promotional offers can help to convince the end customers“, explains Éric Jaspart, Store Product Manager at Cegid.
Security: the Eternal Question
Security – or, more precisely, persuading customers to trust these payment methods – remains a constant challenge. “The primary challenge with these new solutions is to convince consumers that their payments are being made safely, and that their private lives are not being intruded upon,” says our expert. For this reason, payment services being offered by recognised banks (even if the service itself is white-label) will help to reassure the end customers. In this case, the consumer pays using the application provided by the bank.
The main challenge with these new solutions is convincing consumers.
Nevertheless, “there is still a lot of work to be done to convince people. Companies shouldn’t think it’s a done deal, either in the US or in Europe,” explained Gilbert Arir, CEO of the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires (France’s national interbank network) during a conference on the subject in April 2015. In order to achieve their goals, brands will need to regularly get involved in campaigns promoting the notion that digital transactions are “as safe as a bank card,” as BNP Paribas’ Kix service offering promises customers.
FinTechs: new arrivals in the payment arena
After GAFA and traditional banks, over the last few years the retail payment sector has seen new operators gate-crashing the party resulting in losses and tumults: FinTechs. These finance-based start-ups specialise in offering innovative payment services. Curve combines all of a user’s bank and loyalty cards into one, while Dynamics Inc. is developing a “hybrid” card that can transform into a debit card (“carte bleu”) when required. Start-ups such as Square, Poynt and Clover offer payment terminals that are specially adapted for NFC technology for retail points of sale.
Among the many start-ups that have been launched in recent years, very few ever make it past their first birthday.
Others are betting on wearables being used to pay for purchases, such as U.K. firm Kerv and its connected contactless payment ring. “Getting into payment technology as a start-up is still very complex. It’s difficult to install a sense of legitimacy and confidence when you’re an emerging pure player. This is why so few start-ups launched over the last few years have made it past their first birthday. The result: retailers shouldn’t rush to adopt these new solutions. That said, it’s prudent to keep a close eye on FinTechs with the potential to bring fresh energy and progressively revolutionise the payment market, especially with tools such as biometrics and facial or vocal recognition (Talk to Pay). The transformation of payment methods will certainly be technological, but it also represents a generational shift, as retailers will need to adapt to their future clientele,” explains Éric Jaspart, who points out that not every region is currently operating at the same level in this respect.
“The example to emulate in terms of mobile payments remains Asia, and especially China – the world’s largest smartphone market – where over 50% of purchases of goods and services are made via the smartphone with cross-channel operators such as Alipay (from the Ali Baba group) and WeChat (Tencent’s social network). These operators are itching to break into global markets, especially in Europe, in order to satisfy demand from Chinese tourists travelling abroad. It’s important to note that India has also made 3-figure gains in this sector“.