Getting Value from Returns: Optimizing Your Reverse Logistics

by Admin July 27, 2017

Click-and-collect is now a hugely important service for many retailers and other businesses. Allowing customers to order online and pick up merchandise at a local brick-and-mortar location is a crucial strategy for everyone from Wal-Mart to Walgreens.

However, offering the convenience of click-and-collect often comes with a cost, and it’s one that many early adopters have struggled to manage.

Retailers are struggling to make their click-and-collect operations profitable, largely due to the huge increase in returns and related costs they’ve generated.

This has led some retailers to charge fees for placing click-and-collect orders, but this tactic is at odds with consumer preferences and may have costly repercussions through the loss of sales and traffic that they could have generated if they offered free returns.

The negative consequences of ineffective reverse logistics are underlined by results from KPMG’s 2016 Omnichannel Retail Survey. The survey found that:

  • Free returns are driving extra online purchases and additional store traffic.
  • Free returns and speedy reimbursement are viewed as part of good service.
  • 72% of consumers would be unlikely to shop with a retailer if they had a bad returns experience.
  • 67% of consumers say free returns is the most important factor when considering a return.
  • 15% of all online returns and 23% of fashion returns are intentional; many shoppers order multiple items and physically test products for the first time on receipt of delivery.

The results show that customers expect and want free returns, and you need to get it right when offering them. Many consumers also use returns to take the fitting room or showroom home, so they’re over-ordering with an expectation of returning items.

The resulting challenges and costs are why some retailers are struggling with click-and-collect profitability. However, rather than impose fees and potentially lose business, companies should look to optimize their returns logistics to save costs, improve service, and achieve click-and-collect profitability.

The Three Pillars of Profitable Returns Logistics

To get the returns experience right and achieve profitability, companies should consider three pillars:

1. Reliability. It’s imperative to get returned goods back into your system accurately, by using scanners, mobile computers, or RFID. Best practices suggest that it’s important to provide customers with multiple channels for returns, including in-store, via pick-up, or through return lockers. However, wherever and whenever the item is returned, scanning and processing has to be fast and reliable.

2. Accuracy. Businesses must use inventory visibility to quickly send goods where they’re needed. Stock may go out and be returned through a variety of channels, so you need to know where returned stock is and where it’s needed to accelerate order fulfillment and reduce unnecessary inventory.

3. Speed. While it is important to handle returns in a way that satisfies the customer and minimizes costs, it is equally important to recirculate stock as quickly as possible. Many returns will be ready to go straight back to the shelf, which means improved availability. In-store relabeling and scanning items to return them to the stock keeps your wider inventory up to date and reduces the risk of overstocking.

Getting Practical Help & Insights

We can help you implement these three pillars with some free resources and insights.

Our partners at Zebra Technologies have published an insightful and practical eBook, “Three Steps to Click & Collect Efficiency.” In the eBook, Zebra uses case studies and real-world examples to show what the click-and-collect process should look like and how to make it profitable.

You can also reach out to us for advice, recommendations, and support. At ASI, we work with Zebra to design systems and solutions to optimize your reverse logistics and make profitable click-and-collect possible. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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Getting Value from Returns: Optimizing Your Reverse Logistics

by jjodko July 27, 2017

Click-and-collect is now a hugely important service for many retailers and other businesses. Allowing customers to order online and pick up merchandise at a local brick-and-mortar location is a crucial strategy for everyone from Wal-Mart to Walgreens.

However, offering the convenience of click-and-collect often comes with a cost, and it’s one that many early adopters have struggled to manage.

Retailers are struggling to make their click-and-collect operations profitable, largely due to the huge increase in returns and related costs they’ve generated.

This has led some retailers to charge fees for placing click-and-collect orders, but this tactic is at odds with consumer preferences and may have costly repercussions through the loss of sales and traffic that they could have generated if they offered free returns.

The negative consequences of ineffective reverse logistics are underlined by results from KPMG’s 2016 Omnichannel Retail Survey. The survey found that:

  • Free returns are driving extra online purchases and additional store traffic.
  • Free returns and speedy reimbursement are viewed as part of good service.
  • 72% of consumers would be unlikely to shop with a retailer if they had a bad returns experience.
  • 67% of consumers say free returns is the most important factor when considering a return.
  • 15% of all online returns and 23% of fashion returns are intentional; many shoppers order multiple items and physically test products for the first time on receipt of delivery.

The results show that customers expect and want free returns, and you need to get it right when offering them. Many consumers also use returns to take the fitting room or showroom home, so they’re over-ordering with an expectation of returning items.

The resulting challenges and costs are why some retailers are struggling with click-and-collect profitability. However, rather than impose fees and potentially lose business, companies should look to optimize their returns logistics to save costs, improve service, and achieve click-and-collect profitability.

The Three Pillars of Profitable Returns Logistics

To get the returns experience right and achieve profitability, companies should consider three pillars:

1. Reliability. It’s imperative to get returned goods back into your system accurately, by using scanners, mobile computers, or RFID. Best practices suggest that it’s important to provide customers with multiple channels for returns, including in-store, via pick-up, or through return lockers. However, wherever and whenever the item is returned, scanning and processing has to be fast and reliable.

2. Accuracy. Businesses must use inventory visibility to quickly send goods where they’re needed. Stock may go out and be returned through a variety of channels, so you need to know where returned stock is and where it’s needed to accelerate order fulfillment and reduce unnecessary inventory.

3. Speed. While it is important to handle returns in a way that satisfies the customer and minimizes costs, it is equally important to recirculate stock as quickly as possible. Many returns will be ready to go straight back to the shelf, which means improved availability. In-store relabeling and scanning items to return them to the stock keeps your wider inventory up to date and reduces the risk of overstocking.

Getting Practical Help & Insights

We can help you implement these three pillars with some free resources and insights.

Our partners at Zebra Technologies have published an insightful and practical eBook, “Three Steps to Click & Collect Efficiency.” In the eBook, Zebra uses case studies and real-world examples to show what the click-and-collect process should look like and how to make it profitable.

You can also reach out to us for advice, recommendations, and support. At ASI, we work with Zebra to design systems and solutions to optimize your reverse logistics and make profitable click-and-collect possible. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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General | Zebra

Understanding Omnichannel Retail: Why It Matters & How to Get Started

by Admin July 6, 2017

An omnichannel approach is now the most crucial sales and growth strategy for retailers struggling to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive industry dominated by online sales. However, retailers need to understand omnichannel and carefully evaluate their options before investing in a strategy and the technologies to drive it.

Here’s a quick summary of some key omnichannel trends and considerations you should keep in mind for your retail business.

A recent study by comScore and UPS showed that shoppers made 51 percent of all their purchases online in 2016. This marked a turning point for retail and the first time in history that the majority of purchasing happened online.

As more statistics like these emerge, some analysts have predicted the death of traditional retail, citing an inevitable and precipitous decline sparked by the dominance of online retailers such as Amazon. But how do they explain Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar retail?

In November 2015, Amazon shocked the retail industry by opening its first brick-and-mortal retail store. A few months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to open as many as 400 bookstores. The stores will be used to collect new data, stock shelves from nearby warehouses, serve as “experience centers,” and provide pick-up and drop-off points for 24-hour deliveries and returns.

At ASI, we’re hardly surprised by Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar. It’s part of creating a true omnichannel experience, which means meeting your customers anytime and anywhere, both online and in stores.

Online channels, such as retailer websites, social media, email marketing, and digital as well as mobile marketing are keys to engaging customers as they’re shopping and comparing prices before they buy. In the store, face-to-face interactions and in-person experiences help convert online shopping and price comparisons into successful sales and repeat business.

In fact, a recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that only 7 percent of consumers are online-only shoppers, and only 20 percent are store-only shoppers. The remaining 73 percent are omnichannel customers, who are considerably more valuable than single-channel customers.

Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4 percent more on every in-store shopping occasion and 10 percent more online than single-channel shoppers. With each additional channel they use, they spend more in-store. For example, if they use four or more channels, they spend 9 percent more in-store than single-channel customers. Those who conduct online research on the retailer’s website or other sites before they buy spend 13 percent more in-store than single-channel shoppers.

As the study points out, omnichannel engages shoppers with your brand and ultimately draws them into your physical store. By giving them a seamless, multi-channel experience, you can capitalize on the higher value of omnichannel customers and give them an experience that online pure players can’t match.

Indeed, the best retail brands have achieved success, despite the online trends, by delivering a consistent experience across all channels and valuing the in-store as well as the online experience.

At ASI, we help our clients achieve this by providing consulting, technologies, and support to help them connect and optimize all of their marketing channels—including their website, mobile, social, and other digital experiences, as well as warehousing, inventory, delivery, and in-store operations.

Our recommendations often include implementing and integrating retail technology solutions from our partners at Zebra Technologies. Zebra’s mobile computers, barcode and RFID scanners, and printing solutions offer unprecedented data capture and analytics capabilities, which help you connect all of your retail channels, understand your customers, and develop innovative ways to serve them.

They also empower your staff to provide better service and in-store experiences by enabling better face-to-face engagement, better access to product and inventory information, self-service options, click-and-collect fulfillment, and loyalty solutions to encourage repeat business.

To learn more about omnichannel retail and find the right strategies and solutions for your business, contact us now to request a free consultation. We’d be happy to help.

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General | Zebra

ASI at the NYC CS Fair

by Admin April 5, 2017

Check out ASI's Vivian Scott at the NYC CS Fair!

The NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair (CS Fair) is New York City's largest annual college and career inspiration event for public high school students studying computer science. In its fourth year, the 2017 CS Fair will host over 2,000 students from 65+ schools across all five boroughs as well as 100+ companies, colleges and extra-curricular programs.







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General

Hybrid IT

by Admin March 10, 2017

What’s the hype about hybrid IT? Explore the facts behind the fiction.

Have you bought into the buzz and excitement about hyper converged infrastructure benefits for scalability, flexibility, and speed of workload provisioning? Or are you confused by the misconceptions that have left you wondering, “Is this the right tech move for my business?”

Some companies turn to hyper converged for remote office/branch office scalability (ROBO). Others choose it to simplify virtualization. Many companies have made the leap to hyper converged IT. In fact, a press release from IDC reports that during the fourth quarter of 2015 sales of hyper converged systems grew 170%.1

So what are the facts about hyper converged that you should consider?

It eases management.

Hyper converged appliances combine factory-integrated compute, storage, networking, and management components together into a single device to streamline and simplify resource deployment. This integration reduces data center sprawl and cost. Unlike legacy storage and compute components managed through many panes of glass, hyper converged appliances support single-pane-of-glass management by a single IT generalist – eliminating the need to hire, train, and retain an IT specialist to keep your investment humming.

It’s workload-friendly.

Purpose-built hyper converged appliances ensure you have the right mix of factory-integrated compute, storage, networking, and management components to handle most general-purpose workloads, including virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and hybrid cloud. This configuration saves time and simplifies the provisioning of workloads because it combines everything you need for virtualization into a single solution.

You can afford it.

Say goodbye to overprovisioning servers for future demand. The modularity of hyper converged appliances makes it possible to purchase what you need—when you need it—and scale up as your requirements change. You can scale compute and storage independently based on your needs. Not only does this reduce your capital expense costs, but it frees up revenue that can be applied to fund other mission-critical IT initiatives.

Migrating to hyper converged IT doesn’t have to be complicated. At ASI System Integration, our infrastructure architects rely on products like HPE Hyper Converged Systems for hybrid IT simplicity. It’s integrated with the HPE ProLiant DL380 Server, the world’s best-selling server, and powered by Intel® Xeon® processors for server reliability robust enough to support any VDI or cloud workload.

We’re North America’s leading independent provider of IT services with 30 years of experience and deep expertise in infrastructure optimization. Contact us to learn how you can get started with HPE Hyper Converged Systems with as little as two nodes – or as many as 16 for enterprise-class workloads.

1 Press Release, “Worldwide Converged Systems Revenue Increases 8.5% Year Over Year in the Fourth Quarter of 2015, Surpassing $3.1 Billion in Value,” IDC March 2016

© 2017 ASI SYSTEM INTEGRATION

Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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General | HPE

When They Say “Lifecycle Services” What Do They Really Mean?

by Admin October 16, 2015

Information Technology (IT) Lifecycle Services is one of the few descriptors that really are what they sound like they are!

Everything can be said to have a lifecycle.  Products get designed, developed, prototyped, approved, manufactured, introduced to market, marketed, sold, serviced, retired, and replaced. Information is conceptualized, developed, documented, shared, revised, archived, and perhaps eventually destroyed. 

IT Lifecycles

IT facilities and devices each have their own lifecycle as well.  ASI Services provides customers with expert support at each of these stages and encourages customers to think about each service in the context of the entire lifecycle.

Planning - This lifecycle actually begins before the actual unit is obtained.  A need is identified.  Specifics about the need and what will fulfill it are defined.  Research is performed to identify the ideal products and services required to make that fulfillment happen.  Specific devices and software are purchased.  All of these are part of the ASI solution lifecycle.

Deployment - Most people recognize the IT service lifecycle as beginning here, where the devices and software are integrated, configured, tested, and prepared for delivery.  Then they are delivered, installed, integrated into the corporate network, given access to required resources.  Many ASI customers prefer not to have their own resources trained to perform what will be a one-time installation of new equipment or software and have experienced ASI specialists do it instead.

User Training - Users are trained and given instruction as to where to obtain support when required.

Management - The installed units are then monitored to assure constant and consistent function.  In many cases the devices and software are managed to assure optimal function.  Many customers turn to ASI specifically for management services so they can optimize use of their own resources on projects pertinent to their specific business.

End-of-Life - Given the rapid advancement that is constant in IT, after a relatively short time each unit and each version of software is superseded by a new, superior version.  Eventually it becomes time to retire and replace many units and much of the software.  The software may be updated regularly using automatic techniques to reduce the workload on human operators or support personnel.  When hardware must be replaced, someone must disconnect and remove the existing equipment and begin the lifecycle anew with new equipment.  ASI’s various professional services teams each have significant expertise in upgrading and migrating customer platforms to the latest state-of-the-art.

Disposal - The lifecycle, however, does not end until the equipment is properly disposed of in an ecologically sound manner, and the software and any resulting data is safely transitioned off of any storage devices that are being discarded.  ASI has helped many customers avoid significant legal penalties that can come as the result of improper disposal of expired computer equipment.

That’s A Lot of Work

We think of computers as “set-and-forget” devices that require little if any maintenance.  The reality is that there are a number of services which must be performed during the various phases of this lifecycle, and the strategy employed to perform these services becomes most cost-effective and functionally efficient when the process to support the entire lifecycle is thought-out, planned, and defined in advance.

Optimal management of the IT Lifecycle reduces costs and extracts the highest possible value from each investment in information infrastructure.  Discuss the lifecycle of your upcoming investments with your ASI Advisor today.

 

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The Value Impact of User Self-Service for Your Users and You

by Admin October 8, 2015

“I’m so tired of hearing a recording answer the phone.  I just need to speak to a person!”

How many times have you heard people complain about this?  Yet, when it comes to obtaining computer support, more and more users are celebrating the fact that they don’t need to wait to talk to a person to get many of their problems solved.  They’re celebrating the fact that their company service desk has implemented user self-service capabilities.

How Does User Self-Service Work?

Have you identified your “frequent flyers” lately?  Not only those users who call for help more often than others, but also those questions that are asked more often than others?

You probably wouldn’t be surprised by the most frequently asked questions.  You hear them every day.  What might surprise you is the proportion they represent of the total community of questions asked.  The ASI Help Desk finds that some can represent 10-20-30-even 40% of the inquiries your help desk receives, dwarfing all other questions combined. 

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Simply put, as much as half of your budget may be getting spent on answering the same question over and over and over again.  It would be worth your while to put that question and its answer on a plaque and post that plaque over every desk in your company.  You could then probably cut your staff and other help desk resources in half.  Scary… but true!

Research by the ASI Services team finds that distribution of most frequently asked questions follows the Pareto Principle.  That is, 80% of inquiries involve 20% of the questions.  Put another way, if you could enable your users to obtain answers to the 20% of all questions that are asked most often, you could reduce the load on your help desk by as much as 80%.  Sound interesting?

Enabling User Self-Service

Users are more connected and better informed than ever before. Organizations are looking for business solutions that can strengthen their ability to connect with users on their own terms, using whatever device and whatever channel they prefer.  Industry research firm Forrester has found that 72% of customers prefer self-service over phone or email interactions, meaning that self-service is no longer just an option, it’s a competitive requirement.

Once you know the most frequently asked support questions, and have developed easy-to-follow answers for them, you can use a variety of communication tools to make those answers instantly available to your users, including:

Portal: a 24/7 user support center that is seamlessly integrated into your organization’s current website. This web-based help center gives your users easy and convenient access to an intuitive, searchable knowledge base which delivers quick answers to their most-commonly asked service and support questions. If your users still require personal support after using the knowledge base, they can submit a help ticket, track its progress at their convenience and receive an automatic notification email when an answer is available for them.

Mobile Self-Service: Allow your users to access answers to frequently asked questions using whatever device they prefer. The responsive design of Portal enables you to increase the reach of your knowledge management efforts and provide consistent and personalized experiences across desktop and mobile devices.

Real-time Chat: provide your users with instant and personalized online support with Chat. Empowers your organization with an immediate, seamless transition from a self-service to assisted channel at critical times during the support interaction. Comprehensive rules for escalation, deflection and prioritization ensure a timely response and that Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are met.

Knowledgebase: an intuitive user self-service solution that provides quick answers to common questions and support issues, plus essential downloads including forms, how-to videos, product manuals, knowledge base information updates and more. Easily add and update information and customize its order and placement to put the most-viewed information in a prominent place.

The Best Service Desks Include Self-Service

One reason many ASI clients have chosen to engage ASI to operate their service desk is because we do everything possible to make service delivery faster, and keep costs lower at the same time.  User self-service is just one strategy that enables us to do this. 

For more insight into how you can invite your users to help themselves, talk to your ASI representative today!

About ASI:

ASI System Integration, Inc. is North America’s leading independent provider of IT services, solutions, and technologies.  As a leading system integrator, ASI builds world-class IT solutions that fit the unique requirements of customers. Representing the most influential OEMs in the industry, ASI rides on the cutting edge of the technology wave. That is, they know technology, where it's been, and where it's going. The solutions they represent, implement, and support are designed to launch customers from their current state into a more mature IT arena, setting them above competition. ASI strives to build quality solutions that bring efficiency, effectiveness, and return on investments.

ASI has five tightly integrated business units

  • Consulting & Integration

Our consulting & integration portfolio offers a range of services, from strategic IT advice, to cloud consulting, and data center transformation services.

  • Lifecycle Sourcing

Our optimized and agile single point-of-contact solutions meet all of our clients’ sourcing, integration, deployment, and IT management requirements.

  • Technology Services

Our certified and experienced technology professionals ensure maximum system availability and minimal service disruption to our clients’ infrastructure.

  • Asset Disposition Services

Our services reduce the risk, cost, and complexity associated with securely managing the disposition and return of end-of-life technology across multiple global locations in an environmentally compliant manner.

  • Technology Workforce Solutions

Our technical experts and consultants link people with performance to maximize human capital in today's competitive and changing economic and social environment.

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