For me, it used to be that clothes shopping was an in-store experience; I would casually wander the aisles and browse until I found the perfect item. These days, life is filled with work, play dates, and kids’ sporting activities, leaving me little time to enjoy leisurely store visits. Online shopping from my computer or phone has become my go-to. Items can be shipped to my house or a local store for pick up. If returns are needed, I can send the product back in the mail or drop it off at the store. These touch points make it easy for me as a shopper, but make the multichannel supply chain of products, deliveries, and returns challenging for the retailer. Especially when the touch points are both global and country specific.
Consumers, like me, demand the same experience, whether shopping at a store or online, and whether product is delivered to the store or home. Retailers and manufacturers are under increased pressure support that level of consistency to avoid losing a consumer to another provider who can meet their needs. And, consider those demands as retail volumes continue to increase around the world, particularly in regions like China where more and more consumers living in Tier 3 and 4 cities are turning to the internet to make purchases.
According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) recent report, The Evolution of Supply Chains in a Direct-to-Consumer World, manufacturers and retailers are increasingly looking to global transportation management systems (TMS) to support a seamless multichannel experience. They are upgrading physical assets and IT assets, using more technology to provide comprehensive status information and better manage transportation and warehousing. Warehouse management system (WMS) and TMS technologies are essential to developing a cohesive approach capable of combining network design, inventory management, delivery priority, and lane choice in a dynamic way to offer best in class fulfillment.
Companies that plan to purchase or upgrade their TMS should be looking for particular capabilities that support this complexity. Companies should choose the best mix of options, depending on what they consider most important to gaining a competitive advantage: Agility and speed, supply chain visibility, event management and on time delivery, freight flow density, inventory management, and continuous improvement. In a supporting role, a TMS solution can be tailored to each network, and it can provide essential features that are shared by different multichannel operations so the company can continue to meet consumers’ rising expectations, even as shipment volumes increase.