Here are two facts you can’t ignore if you’re in retail:

Fact #1: The top 10% of retailers now control 70% of the market — and their share keeps growing.

Fact #2: Those industry giants are getting more advanced, leaving competitors further behind. As the Harvard Business Review puts it, “Even as Walmart, Amazon, and a few other leading retailers operate at the leading edge of the analytics frontier, . . . most of their competitors still use very basic tools that are far better able at tracking where they’ve been than where they should be going.”

What’s the takeaway for your retail business?

If you want to flourish, your company must ingest and analyze the huge volumes of data available to you. That’s how you give customers a seamless omni-channel experience while managing costs.

So why don’t more retailers take these steps? The sheer volume of data overwhelms many companies. These businesses struggle to collect data that is scattered all across their supply chain and in third-party sources. And if they can’t collect the data, they certainly can’t analyze it and apply it to their everyday decisions.

But harnessing data and mastering today’s complex omni-channel world doesn’t need to be so difficult. You just need the right tools.


Lawrence Roycroft serves as director of commerce at Blue Yonder, a global leader in omni-channel fulfillment. He sees retailers struggle to gather and interpret data across their order, warehouse, and transportation management systems — or Order Management System (OMS), Warehouse Management System (WMS), and Transportation Management System (TMS).

Roycroft says, “What happens is that retailers have a lack of visibility across their network. OMS, WMS, and TMS were traditionally independent of one another. But those silos leave retailers vulnerable to issues in one part of the system that cascade into others.”

He gives a couple of examples: “Say illness leaves you short-staffed at a particular warehouse. If that information doesn’t flow into your OMS or your TMS, you’ll end up routing too many orders that can’t be picked in time. Or say there’s some issue in your transportation network, such as shipping delays caused by bad weather. That information affects the promise you can make to customers when they place their order. If you don’t factor that in, you’re likely to make a delivery promise you can’t keep.”

But to collect and analyze all this data, your business doesn’t need to build a new, integrated platform from the ground up. That process would take years and untold expense.

No, the solution lies in deploying composable architecture. These scalable, individual technology stacks — or “microservices” — integrate with your existing system. And they are purpose-built to solve these kinds of problems.

Next Level Up

Gathering data is one crucial milestone. But how can you analyze it to make decisions in real time?

Manual processes can’t keep up with the complexity of today’s fulfillment environment. You need user-friendly tools to assess that data to inform actions.

Roycroft explains, “Retailers are always looking to find the right balance between serving the customer and controlling costs. Anytime you set up new rules across your system, the change comes with risk. What are the unintended consequences of a change? If you get the calculation wrong, you won’t see the effects until you’ve fulfilled a lot of orders. That could hurt both customers and your bottom line.”

But what if you didn’t need to let a scenario play out with real orders for you to analyze its effectiveness?

In fact, you don’t.

“Once you have good visibility into data you can test an unlimited number of optimization scenarios in a safe, secure ‘sandbox.’ We call it the Unified Commerce Simulator,”  Roycroft said.

Using this digital simulator, your business can test all kinds of “what if” scenarios. Probabilistic modeling shows you the impact of new rules you want to employ. By testing in the simulator, you can keep refining your optimizations — before you ever expose a customer to a change.

There’s one more bit of good news. Here, too, you don’t need to overhaul your entire tech system. Taking a modular approach using microservices, you can get up and running quickly.

That’s how you’ll close the gap on retail giants.

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