Maintaining lean inventories is a priority for retailers this holiday season. In order to keep inventories slim while still avoiding gaps on Holiday Season shelves where the year’s “hot items” once rested is a serious challenge. Is your TMS up to the task?
Black Friday sales reveal the year’s “hot items” with consumers and kicks off the race among retailers scrambling to replenish the shelves with this year’s “must have” products while there are still shopping days left before Christmas. Saturday morning, retailers may be rethinking the timing (not to mention wisdom) of shipping replenishment “hot items” according to normal transportation plans. The trip from vendor to DCs and then a second trip from DC to stores burns too many prime holiday shopping days. With the clock running down, savvy retailers may wish to take the more drastic step of ordering truckloads of hot items from suppliers and deliver directly – in multi-stop shipments – to their stores.
But will their TMS solution be able to flex easily and effectively enough to accommodate this change in shipping strategy? It depends on which TMS solution the retailer has in place. Some TMS platforms, particularly the largest enterprise-level systems are not as responsive and nimble as some of the modern cloud TMS solutions. The largest enterprise systems are designed to automate exceedingly high volumes of shipments for the largest shippers but are not so well equipped for making surgical changes on the fly. So for national retail chains using these systems, it may be difficult to accommodate late-innings strategic changes.
There’s no denying that the modern cloud TMS is a superior tool to accommodate every strategy needed by retailers striving to remain competitive in a changing market environment.
One of the proven benefits of modern, cloud-based TMS solutions is these platforms’ ability to diverge from the standard transportation plan and effectuate changes in a way that does not wreak havoc on upstream and downstream functions like purchasing, finance, fleet asset management, yard throughput and other associated functions. With a nimble, cloud-based TMS solution, these changes are easy to make and the information is shared in real time across all stakeholder groups. The same result may be achieved using the ossified enterprise solution, but it often requires users of these rigid platforms to engage in inefficient manual processes and workarounds which are prone to error and waste.
Moreover, where the argument could have been made 10 years ago that shipping high volumes of freight was best suited to large legacy providers, the advancements in technology – from mobile telecommunications, telematics, cloud computing and others – have leveled the playing field significantly. Today’s leading cloud TMS solutions are able to address high volume shipping as well as flexible planning and rapid response to changes in market dynamics.
Lastly, for the many retailers engaging in omni-channel retail strategies, the flexibility to manage replenishment both to dirt world outlets as well as ecommerce distribution centers is essential. There’s no denying that the modern cloud TMS is a superior tool to accommodate every strategy needed by retailers striving to remain competitive in a changing market environment.
Retailers considering implementing a new TMS solution or replacing an old, outmoded platform already in place should pay close attention to the pains they experience this holiday season and take preliminary steps today to learn more about the latest technology for transportation logistics. The New Year will soon be here and after the holiday dust settles, it will be prime time to put the pieces in place to be far more responsive during the peak seasons in 2017.