One phrase describes 2020 — “the new normal.” According to McKinsey, 10 years of e-commerce adoption was compressed into three months. Widespread stay-at-home orders, as well as health concerns due to the pandemic, accelerated the adoption of online shopping as consumers were forced to find new ways to get the products they needed. Consumers relied on e-commerce to purchase everything from paper towels and disinfectant wipes to clothes, books and even furniture. Consumers tried to purchase anything and everything online. 

Companies such as FedEx, UPS and even the US Postal Service have benefited as more consumers do their shopping online. According to FedEx, the pandemic-fueled surge in online orders has increased package volumes by double digits. Demand for e-commerce shipping services is likely to remain high as consumer preferences for online shopping become permanent. 

While this may seem like great news for logistics and delivery companies, the e-commerce surge has also led to increased costs which companies have passed onto retailers through surcharges and price increases. In the past year, retailers already operated with thin margins, and the increased cost to deliver new speed and convenience options — such as buy online pick up in store and one to two-day shipping — had to contend with rising costs from leading shipping and delivery companies.  

Successfully delivering unified customer experiences in retail depends on agile and robust supply chain solutions that help meet consumer expectations and demands while ensuring order optimization. Traditional solutions only look at a few factors when optimizing orders, and many only do so after an order is placed. But what’s needed in our rapidly evolving e-commerce world are solutions that deliver weighted, multi-factor optimization, with location selection rules that give businesses the granularity they need to decide what parameters are important to consider when fulfilling orders. Blue Yonder’s Luminate Commerce solution provides businesses with both pre- and post-order sourcing to optimally deliver on the promise to customers. 

Let’s start with pre-sourcing. Consumers today expect definite delivery dates due to their experience with many e-tailers who offer guaranteed one- and two-day shipping. With new customer expectations, providing accurate commitments and multiple fulfillment options from the beginning of the shopping journey has become a requirement. The omni-channel microservice provides order by/get by from click to collect.  
The second component of this microservice is the ability to do post-order sourcing and optimization. Post-order optimization enables businesses to determine the best way to fulfill orders based on many criteria, such as customer location, inventory levels, cost of merchandise, cost of shipping, transit times, and supply chain costs. The solution can help determine if it makes sense to split orders or send everything to consumers in one delivery. It helps determine which distribution center or dark store to fulfill the order from. Blue Yonder’s microservice empowers businesses to determine the factors to consider and importance of each. For example, some retailers may be more focused on the fastest shipping time than shipping costs, while others view criteria such as stockout and markdown costs as more important. This microservice also considers resource capacity and costs to make sure the promise retailers make to their customers is profitable and executable. Only Blue Yonder provides both pre- and post-order optimization in a single solution with the power of machine learning (ML) to help businesses find their most optimal way to fulfill orders. 

To learn more about Blue Yonder’s multi-factor order optimization capabilities, view the Intelligent Order Promising and Optimization Infographic.