2020: How to survive the Covid retail revolution

With consumers heading online and staying there in 2020, EDI is the key to future eCommerce agility

We live in dramatically changing times, and nowhere is feeling the seismic forces of change more than retail. Throughout 2020, consumers have been forced to rapidly rethink their basic shopping behaviours as they locked-down and socially distanced. Needless to say, the overwhelming direction of travel globally has been online and D2C.

Of course, consumer behaviour was gradually switching to online and D2C pre-pandemic. However, the latest global data from The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that online purchases have increased by 6 to 10 percentage points across most product categories in the past year alone. The biggest gainers are electronics, home improvement, pharmaceuticals, education, furniture/household products and cosmetics/personal care.

This dramatic shift in consumer behaviour has huge implications for the majority of retailers who have, until now, focused on their biggest sales channel – brick-and-mortar retail. Now however, with up to 60% of consumers planning to continue their new online shopping habits post-pandemic, the centre of gravity has shifted permanently.

Re-drawing the high street model

This shift has accelerated the re-drawing of the traditional high street model with the likes of Debenhams and Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Evans, going into administration.

Meanwhile, surviving retailers are ramping up their omnichannel offering. Grocers, in particular, are moving heaven and earth to meet online demand with one-in-five households now buying their weekly shop via the internet and Waitrose reporting a 143% increase in demand for Christmas delivery slots.

In this new frenetic environment, the speed with which retailers can get new products to market is paramount.

Making the switch to demand-driven retail with EDI solutions

EDI-powered data can also help retailers evolve from a forecast-led business model to a demand-driven one. With cloud-based EDI software, there’s no more trying to sell your customers what you think they want. Instead, knowing exactly what they need and providing it to them at the right time, in the right place and for the right price.

This supply-chain superpower doesn’t just help retailers serve existing trading partners either. It can also help them develop and bring new products to market quicker and also enter exciting new markets. Throughout this process integrated EDI solutions can enable you to constantly monitor and analyse supply chain performance in real-time and adjust it if necessary.

For example, EDI allows retailers to switch trading partners faster to protect supply if an eCommerce sales spike is detected. They can also recruit new trading partners if they identify growing demand for a particular product in a new geography.

EDI and dropship makes retailers more agile

The dropship fulfilment method, powered by EDI for retail and manufacturing, is also becoming increasingly popular with online retailers because it helps fast track the supply chain from manufacturer to customer.

With dropship the retailer doesn’t hold goods in stock. Instead, using supply chain EDI, they transfer customer orders and shipment details either to the manufacturer, another retailer or wholesaler who then ships the goods directly to the customer.

Cloud-based EDI digitises, automates and significantly speeds up the document processes needed to make dropship possible. It enables retailers’ and suppliers’ computer systems to ‘talk’ to each other with little or no human intervention.

The end result is that thanks to your EDI supplier, a potentially complex fulfilment method involving multiple partners is simplified and speeded up ensuring new products go to market faster.

Manage the surge of online orders with EDI

There’s no point speeding a product to market if you can’t handle high volume orders – but EDI solutions can help with this as well.

Processing tens of thousands of customer orders in one day may be impossible for a human team. And getting basic order management wrong is a sure-fire way to erode customer trust.

When a retailer’s enterprise resource planning system (ERP) is connected to cloud-based EDI, however, mission-critical information (customer names, addresses, products and quantity) is automatically shared without the risk of human input error. Market-leading EDI solutions also include address verification, ensuring that orders are sent to the right address first time, every time.

Real-time inventory data is also a critical ingredient of any eCommerce operation. Retailers and brands must be confident the products on their website are in fact in stock.

An ERP solution connected to integrated EDI not only fast tracks order management, it also ensures you are doing it accurately and efficiently.

When it comes to surviving in the new era of eCommerce, it pays to know your enemy. Amazon has been a stand-out winner during the pandemic, thanks to superlative customer experiences ranging from slick online ordering and easy payment to first-class fulfilment and returns.

No surprise then that the online giant reported a 37% increase in revenue during the third quarter of 2020. Amazon is a huge fan of EDI, insisting that all of its suppliers use it when dealing with the firm. The lesson here is ‘if you can’t beat them join them’

If you feel you would benefit from cloud-based EDI from Transalis, why not talk to us? You can reach us on 0845 123 3476 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), or email sales@transalis.com.

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