Year-end holidays: How to optimise stock with an Order Management System (OMS)
Singles’ Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas – these year-end holidays are crucial for many retailers, accounting for a significant portion of their annual revenue, averaging 30% in just one month. Globally, 43% of consumers plan to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales for their holiday shopping.
With the influx of online orders and in-store visits, optimal stock management is essential to avoid issues like stockouts or overstocking. Faced with the challenge of the year-end peak, implementing an Order Management System (OMS) is a strategic move for merchants.
Here’s how this solution can be used to optimise stock and meet significant spikes in demand.
Challenges of the year-end peak
With the exponential increase in demand, the year-end period presents significant challenges for retailers.
Significant risks of stockouts & overstock
During the year-end holidays, consumer expectations regarding product availability and delivery speed are at their peak. Driven by promotions and discounts, consumers seek good deals but also a smooth and satisfactory shopping experience. Stockouts can seriously harm a retailer’s reputation and lead to a loss of customers.
An omnichannel study carried out by OneStock found that 62% of shoppers will switch to a competitor if the product is unavailable, and 31% say they would be less loyal to a retailer if they face stockouts.
Issues with overstock are also common during the year-end peak. Poor sales forecasting, inefficient stock management, new competition and a variety of other factors can be the cause – but this mismanagement of stock ties up capital, occupies storage space, and can result in additional carrying costs and heavy post-holiday discounting.
Other specific challenges
Managing the massive influx of online orders and in-store visits requires impeccable organisation and coordination. Systems must be prepared to handle a significantly higher transaction volume, and teams must be ready to meet increased demand, both online and in-store. For 43% of brands, site outages or issues are the main concerns during this sales peak.
Managing returns, which are particularly high after the holidays, is another significant challenge. Return processes must be simple and efficient (e.g. through services like in-store returns) to maintain customer satisfaction while minimising the impact on business operations and profitability.
Faced with these multiple and complex challenges, retailers must redouble their efforts and ingenuity to optimise their operations and satisfy their customers. As we will see now, the Order Management System (OMS) emerges as a valuable ally.
OMS: A strategic asset for stock management
The OMS is designed to precisely orchestrate the various facets of stock management through complete integration with business systems and detailed, real-time data. Here are the key features that make this solution highly effective, particularly during the year-end peak.
Unified view of all available stock
The principle of unified commerce is at the core of an Order Management System’s operation, providing a comprehensive view of all available stock for the retailer. This principle ensures consistent and centralised management of stock from various channels, including physical stores, e-commerce sites, marketplaces, supplier warehouses and more. By unifying stock, the OMS enables retailers to maximise the use of their inventory and offer a seamless shopping experience to consumers, regardless of the chosen sales channel.
Intelligent order orchestration
The OMS employs advanced algorithms to determine the best way to fulfil each order based on stock availability, product and customer location, and other parameters set by the retailer. For example, instead of shipping an online order from a dedicated e-commerce warehouse, the OMS can delegate the order to a store that has the necessary stock and is closer to the delivery location. This is the principle of Ship from Store. This orchestration not only ensures optimal order execution but also helps reduce logistical costs and improve customer satisfaction with shorter and more accurate delivery times.
Real-time stock visibility
Another essential feature of the OMS is real-time visibility into stock levels, current orders and shipments. This total transparency helps merchants make informed decisions regarding stock allocation, replenishments and shipments.
Example of optimised stock level management with an OMS
Consider the example of a retailer who, thanks to their OMS, can monitor real-time stock levels of each product in every store and warehouse. If a particular product starts running low in a physical store, the system can automatically reallocate stock from another store location with lower demand or trigger automatic replenishment from a supplier or warehouse. This proactive stock management helps prevent stockouts and ensures product availability to meet consumer demand throughout the holiday season.
Example of tracking ongoing orders
Real-time tracking allows retailers to monitor each order from receipt to delivery, including preparation and shipment. If any order is delayed at any stage of the process, the system immediately alerts the relevant teams, enabling rapid intervention to resolve the issue and ensure on-time delivery.
The OMS, with its advanced analytical capabilities, also enables precise sales forecasting. By analysing historical data and market trends, it helps retailers anticipate future demand and adjust their sourcing and storage strategies accordingly. This predictive feature is essential for maintaining an optimal balance between supply and demand, especially during peak periods like the year-end.
Omnichannel services: Order in Store and Ship from Store
Finally, the OMS facilitates the implementation of omnichannel services such as Order in Store and Ship from Store. These services allow retailers to fully leverage their store network by transforming them into order fulfilment centres. This operating mode promotes better stock flow and helps reduce stockout issues, a critical concern during the holiday season.
With a highly competitive landscape and increasingly demanding consumers, adopting an OMS has become a necessity for omnichannel retailers looking to remain competitive and succeed during the lucrative year-end period. By optimising stock management and effectively meeting consumer demand throughout the holiday season, merchants can not only maximise profits during this critical period but also build trust and loyalty with their customers in the long term.