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Interview: Being ready for festive online retail booms

T.C. Seow | June 5, 2015
In an email interview, William Chaylis, Regional Sales Manager of Southeast Asia, Manhattan Associates, shares his thoughts on what retailers in Asia should be doing to boost sales during festive periods, capture more markets, and improve on efficiencies in order to remain competitive.

In an email interview, William Chaylis, Regional Sales Manager of Southeast Asia, Manhattan Associates, shares his thoughts on what retailers in Asia should be doing to boost sales during festive periods, capture more markets, and improve on efficiencies in order to remain competitive.

William Chaylis
Photo: William Chaylis

Question: For many local and international shoppers, Asian destinations are attractive due to the number of festive and annual sales taking place every year. Taking the Great Singapore Sales (GSS) for example, what would be the ideal lead-time for retailers to prepare and plan in advance to cater to the increasing demands and traffic (online and in-store)?

William Chaylis: The characteristics of Asian countries are quite diverse in terms of supply chain networks (footprint and structure) and efficiency. In Singapore and Malaysia, typically the build-up into peak or festive season involves a shorter time span than in large countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, where logistical plans and preparation – for key events like Hari Raya and Songkran – can take up to 3 months prior to the actual festive period.

In these cases, the festive period always presents challenges on a number of fronts, especially for omni-channel retailers, where traditionally, they will have to increase stock coverage for each channel, and deal with space constraints at stores and in warehouses. To add to the complexity, nowadays many retailers offer O2O services, be they those that involve ordering products online for in-store pick up, or ordering in-store for delivery to a consumer's home. In most cases, retailers don't have full inventory visibility across all channels, and will have to rely on intricate and inefficient processes to deliver goods to customers. Those retailers that do have full inventory visibility often lack the tools to enable automated processing of orders, and have to instead rely on manual inventory transfer and order creation to fulfil those orders. In the end, all of this can substantially increase the delivery cost and order-to-delivery cycle time.

The popularity of Internet and mobile shopping has changed the way of retailers operating their business in recent years. In your opinion, what would be the most effective strategy for retailers to remain competitive and continue capturing market across all channels, with plenty of local boutique and online retailers emerging in the market?

With competition intensifying in the battle to build and retain customers, retailers need to leverage their store inventory and change the role of store associates to become a crucial part of the supply chain. There is a need to examine their order fulfilment strategies and make their supply chains responsive and intelligent so they can integrate and serve all channels in a unified way. Such an approach will allow them to implement the necessary steps to deliver a personalised service, win customer loyalty, drive sales and boost profitability.

 

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