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Fulfilling Online

etail 101

Franchise and cooperative structures in retail are common and have many benefits, particularly for the bricks and mortar stores, which are then locally owned and operated.

As online has continued to contribute a bigger share of total sales, this has created challenges for these retailers to navigate. The key challenge can be how these businesses set up eCommerce to ensure their customers are receiving exceptional service while balancing the needs of the franchisee and franchisor.

This challenge can then be amplified by the complex nature of these organisations to agree and deploy solutions that will ensure they continue to take advantage of their structure and the online potential of their brand.

The franchisor's key asset is the brand and ensuring that exceptional customer service is provided to all customers whether they choose to shop in-store or
online. Unfortunately, franchisee can see online as a negative; you can even hear statements like ‘online is taking sales away from my store.’

Franchisors have tried to solve the eCommerce fulfilment challenge in different ways:

1. Central fulfilment: while this allows the Franchisor to control customer service, it can lead to a widening of the franchisor franchisee gap and customers can
be discouraged from using online while in-store. It also does not allow the group to take advantage of wider group inventory to maximise online sales.

2. Individual website per franchisee/store: you may see in some businesses where you need to select a store before you are able to see what you can purchase. While this model can satisfy the franchisee as if the customer selects their store they get the sale, it is far from an optimal experience for the customer and will limit online sales.

3. The distributed order fulfilment model: this model attempts to find the best of both worlds, but more importantly, take all the other advantages of this model to maximise sales and profits. The solution is the best location fulfils each online order, and therefore that location is sharing in the success of that sale.

One of the key successes of franchised/co-operative retailers has been their level of locally focused service for their customers while being a national brand
that customers know and trust. It is important that franchised retailers don’t lose out if the online and omnichannel experience their customers receive is not
exceeding that which their competitors are delivering.

This is where a modern order manager system (OMS) with a distributed order management (DOM) functionality will be a key system within any online setup, especially a franchised retailer.

A distributed OMS is also flexible to adjust as online customer expectations continue to change and allows the retailer to test and learn what works best for their customers and stores.

The DOM will allow the retailer to monitor performance and adjust in real-time so that the customer experience is not impacted by any one store that is not able or willing to fulfil anorder. It is important that the DOM allows orders to easily be opened up to other nearby stores if the local store is not able to fulfil it within your agreed window or does not have all the items, thus ensuring the customer still receives their order on time and avoiding the need for manual intervention to ensure that customer service is not impacted.

Ultimately, a modern OMS just makes sense for a franchised or cooperative retailer.

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