Article Series

Supply Chain Touchpoints

Supply Chain Touchpoints Part 5: The Right Time

Jan 8, 2019
   |   by 
Bill Robinson

In our series about data integration in the retail supply chain we’ve come to the examination of all touch points that assist retailers to GET THE RIGHT TIME. We invite you to read the previous blogs that looked at 1) the overall Supply Chain Landscapes, 2) the touchpoints that drive THE RIGHT PRODUCT, 3) THE RIGHT QUANTITY, and 4) THE RIGHT PLACE.

The graphic below looks at the RIGHT TIME quintile.

We are surveying how retailers are enhancing these touchpoints to meet the demands of unified commerce. In each we’ll look at how more robust data integration can lead to greater opportunities to compete in this digital age. Most retailers do not have the resources to throw out the systems they evolved for 20th century retailing. And true system integration with those older systems is an unreachable goal. This blog series show you how data integration can spruce up these older applications so that the supply chain becomes an integral part of your Unified Commerce arsenal.

Product Launch.

Product Launch was once a casual process that started when a shipment of new merchandise arrived at store level. Now it demands a rigorous process to coordinate multiple dimensions across channels: signage, training, store layout, local promotion, coordinated channel marketing, endless aisle, customer marketing, fulfillment, and FAQ.

Programmed shipments.

For seasonal and/or fashion goods, it is folly to receive an entire season’s forecast with one shipment. Smart retailers work with their suppliers to ship multiple times as the supply process becomes informed of sales velocity and other variables such as customer returns and markdowns. This requires data integration.

Status checking.

Every retailer wants to become nimbler in their management of purchase orders. When sales are slow, you want to delay the arrival, scale back, or divert. When sales are strong, you want to accelerate and broaden. When you’ve cancelled an order, you want to refuse the shipment. These vital actions become much more manageable when a broad range of merchant users can become aware of the latest status of the inbound shipment. To provide this functionality, we are evolving our “PO Express” application to be a window into the supply chain.


Given imperfect data integration, most retailers employ supply chain specialists as “expeditors.” They are constantly navigating in and out of siloed systems to determine how and when to move merchandise to where it is most needed. By strengthening your data integration, these professionals can dramatically increase their productivity and value.

Distributed Order Management (DOM).

DOM software that manages customer order fulfillment has become, in many ways, the centerpiece system for 21st century retailers. For DOM to get the merchandise to the “RIGHT PLACE” and customer, it needs to know about inventory availability, local demand forecast, and inbound orders. Data integration with DOM is all too often narrower in focus.


Traditional brick-and-mortar logistics systems struggle to support the individual customer shipments required for unified commerce. Usually this is because these systems were designed to move containers and cartons at high rates of speed, not pick individual SKUs for individual customers. So data integration is a large part of the much-needed system overhaul. Moreover, merchandise information is usually invisible outside of the four walls of a standalone logistics system. The enterprise will perform better if logistics information is widely available.

Picking and Packing.

Retailers have greatly expanded their reserve inventory stocks to fulfill customer orders and fill in local assortments. Usually, this requires software to assist in the slotting of merchandise at precise locations in your stock rooms, distribution centers, third party fulfillment centers, and suppliers. Such software requires robust integration about products, locations, and customers.

We are now four fifths of the way into our survey of supply chain touchpoints. If you missed part of the series, here are the links to previous blogs on the overall supply chain landscape, The Right Product, The Right Quantity, and The Right Place. In the last of the series, we’ll deal with The Right Cost.

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