Retailers Turn to Manhattan Associates for Strategic Improvement in Omnichannel Flexibility and In-Store Experiences

Manhattan Associates Improves Omnichannel Flexibility For Retailers

TL; DR: The digital transformation has led retailers to recognize the importance of creating omnichannel experiences in their stores. Yet legacy technology often limits their ability to, for example, provide purchase online, pick up in-store services in a cost-effective way. Manhattan Associates — a technology leader in supply chain and omnichannel commerce with more than 1,200 global customers and 25 years of experience in the warehouse inventory management space — provides retailers with one-platform access to scalable software solutions designed to promote omnichannel success. The Active Omni Store Solution suite helps retailers gain a comprehensive view of inventory, manage order fulfillment, and provide personalized customer service to promote satisfying experiences.

Consumers value time as much as savings or shipping incentives, and they use multiple sales channels to maximize their convenience. Regardless of whether customers ultimately purchase items online or in stores, retailers realize the impact of digital channels on sales — and embrace the competitive advantage they provide — by offering omnichannel experiences such as buy online, pick up in-store.

Photo of Chris Shaw, Director of Product Marketing at Manhattan Associates

Chris Shaw, Director of Product Marketing at Manhattan Associates, spoke with us about the company’s omnichannel solutions for retailers.

Stores need responsive, integrated technology to provide these experiences for their customers, yet most retailers use systems that weren’t designed with omnichannel in mind. Some retailers manage to create the illusion of omnichannel, but — under the surface — they have limited inventory visibility, lack customer data, and have employees that aren’t equipped to juggle online order fulfillment and in-store customer service.

With these challenges, omnichannel initiatives become inefficient, costly, and more likely to leave a negative impression than build brand loyalty.

Manhattan Associates — a global provider of supply chain and inventory management software for more than 25 years — equips retailers with the solutions to successfully adapt their stores to omnichannel commerce. “We believe that stores should be a huge advantage for our clients — they shouldn’t be a disadvantage,” said Chris Shaw, Director of Product Marketing at Manhattan Associates.

Active Omni, a first-of-its-kind cloud-based omnichannel platform, fuses online and offline inventory flow and front- and back-end processes to create a robust view of inventory and the customer.

Through its Active suite of solutions, Manhattan Associates helps retailers improve the profitability at the enterprise level while addressing the technological needs of the store of the future.

A Scalable Cloud Platform Helps Retailers Plan Omnichannel Growth

Manhattan Associates was founded in 1990 and has since established its identity as a premier provider of warehouse and inventory management software for retail and other industries. In recent years, the company has also engineered software solutions to address the challenges within brick-and-mortar stores.

“We have a big advantage here because we’ve done warehouse management for so long. We took the best of all that and put it into the applications we’ve delivered in the store over the last few years,” Chris said.

Manhattan Associates takes a software as a service (SaaS), platform-based approach. Its Active Solutions suite contains a wide range of supply chain management, inventory management, and, now, omnichannel solutions.

In 2017, the company introduced the all-new Active Omni, consisting of the Active Store solution and Active HQ. “We re-engineered the entire Omni Solution specifically for omnichannel retailers and the challenges they face,” Chris said.

The Active Solutions service structure and extensibility allows retailers to immediately implement the solutions they need the most, with easy access to others. “It’s all API-driven, so it lets them use what they need and take advantage of the legacy systems they have,” Chris said.

The platform is also cloud-based, which allows retailers to scale their data storage and performance capabilities up or down during sales-season fluctuations with less lag and downtime. This was a key advantage for specialty swimwear retailer Everything But Water when it deployed Active Omni in 2017 to manage transactions and order fulfillment across its 100-store network. “The Manhattan Active Omni platform allows us to expand our service offerings in a scalable manner and ultimately to deliver superior customer engagement time and time again through our stores and in e-commerce,” said Randall A. Blumenthal, Chairman and CEO of Everything But Water.

Active Omni’s one-platform structure provides the flexibility, integration, and performance retailers need to cost-effectively strategize their omnichannel conversion.

Improving Inventory Alignment to Increase Company Profitability

As Manhattan Associates helps retailers improve profitability across their enterprises, Chris identifies three steps — or stages — to nurture the surrounding inventory management processes. The first is a global view of inventory. “You need to see every piece of inventory in every location. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a place to start,” Chris said.

Screenshot of Manhattan Associates solutions

Enterprise Order Management and Distributed Order Management are two solutions within Active Omni that provide retailers with a complete picture of available inventory for faster, more efficient order fulfillment. Retailers can use these tools to predict shortages, reduce backorders, and set rules for filling out-of-stock items with substitutions to improve customer satisfaction.

The second level of maturity in omnichannel retail is recognizing when to constrain the view of inventory to keep products available for all customers. “You shouldn’t sell everything you can see,” Chris said. “There are times to reserve inventory. It’s an advanced concept of available-to-promise, and we call it Available to Commerce.”

When an Available to Commerce system isn’t in place, stores can end up fulfilling online orders with shelf stock that should be reserved for in-store shoppers. “One of our first customers decided to implement buy-online, pick-up-in-store capabilities,” Chris said. “They turned it on, and within two hours, they had sold four days of inventory at the store and had to turn it off.”

The third level is adaptive network fulfillment (ANF), a new capability in Active Omni that allows retailers to optimize the last phase of order fulfillment. ANF provides the intelligence to deliver orders in a way that satisfies the customer and makes the most business sense. “It shows them the optimum place to fulfill it from to meet the promise they’ve made, and do it most profitably,” Chris said.

Manhattan Associates’ Active Omni solution helps retailers merge their omnichannel views of inventory and order fulfillment to deliver satisfying experiences for customers that boost their bottom lines.

In-Store Applications Improve Efficiency and Customer Satisfaction

Another big focus for Manhattan Associates is enabling the omnichannel store. Four key solutions in the Omni Active Store suite help retailers bring more efficiency and personalization into order processing and associate interactions with customers at the store level.

  • Point of Sale is integral to store operations, and one of the first Active Store solutions retailers adopt. Its user interface is responsive and works with many devices and operating systems.
  • Clienteling provides store employees with access to order history and customer preferences to deliver personalized, next-level customer service.
  • Store Inventory Management equips store associates with the expertise to receive and monitor inbound merchandise — whether from another store location or normal warehouse inventory.
  • Store Order Fulfillment deals specifically with ship-to-store activities. “It gives them some guidance on where to find the item and how to pick it, pack it, stage it, or ship it,” Chris said. “We’re integrated with all the parcel carriers.”

Omni Active Store also includes retail-specific Customer Service & Call Center software. “It’s on the same platform as all of the ordering and transaction activity, so employees have instant, real-time access to solve issues and address them properly. All the payment capability is within that, as well,” Chris said.

Manhattan Omni Active Store solutions help retailers implement an omnichannel strategy and commit to customers on a deeper level. Active Store solutions provide the guidance and insights retailers need to train associates and solve the challenges of the emerging omnichannel store by working alongside inventory and order management tools.

Unveiling More Store-Focused Solutions to Add to the Platform

Over the last five years, the digital transformation has changed the retail landscape, and the implications for brick-and-mortar stores have been unclear. Now, stores are discovering their unique advantage — the ability to evolve into omnichannel hubs that provide customers with access and in-person connection fused with the convenience of online ordering.

“Store closings and the turmoil surrounding them was a correction in the market,” Chris said. “It’s also a shift — an adjustment to human culture change. There are evolutionary changes — whether culturally or technology-based — and retail has to respond,” Chris said. “I think retail is in the middle of responding to that.”

Screenshot of Manhattan Associates at NRF

Manhattan Associates helps retailers improve both the macro and micro-level profitability and omnichannel efficiency through its Active Solutions suite. And it continues to adapt its platform’s technology and capabilities to meet the needs of the emerging store.

Manhattan Associates regularly unveils its latest technology at major conferences and events across the globe, and its participation in the 2018 NRF Big Show — held in New York on January 14-16 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center — will be no exception.

“There’s one more major store offering coming at NRF,” Chris said. “It’s based on customer/order process and the combination of that with analytics and creating better experiences.”

Retailers who plan to attend NRF 2018 will find Manhattan Associates at Booth 2845, where they’ll have the opportunity to experience firsthand the capabilities and new features of the entire Active Solutions suite.

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