Five Takeaways from EMEA Exchange 2018
Last week, we descended on the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam for our annual EMEA customer conference along with some of the biggest names in retail, manufacturing, wholesale and logistics. Previous years have seen us head to Paris and London - this year it was the Netherlands’ turn to play the role of host country.
Over the course of three days, key trends, technologies and insights were shared by supply chain innovators, omnichannel pioneers and industry thought-leaders. It was a fantastic event, in one of our most impressive venues yet, with a record 400-plus delegates in attendance! It also gave us the opportunity to thank and celebrate our amazing customers with a party at St. Olaf’s Chapel.
If you couldn’t make the event, here’s a round-up of some of the key themes and takeaways!
Cloud gives retail and consumer brands the agility they need
For most, the supply chain is business critical, so it is essential that retailers, consumer goods brands and distributors have the latest and greatest software available to run their business. Eddie Capel, President and CEO, kicked off the event with his keynote speech highlighting the importance of an up-to-date supply chain. We are very much in the era of cloud-based software, which is a real asset to the supply chain as it means that everything is always current and versionless. Our Transportation Management System is cloud-based, our Warehouse Management System solution is now available in the cloud (or on-premise), and our Manhattan ActiveTM Omni solution – which includes Order Management, Point of Sale and Customer Engagement – was born in the cloud, providing next-generation capabilities to ensure retailers and brands are able to keep pace with the rapidly changing demands of consumers.
The customer is still the centre of everything
You’ve heard it before and we heard it again at Exchange - the customer should still be at the centre of all processes. Thomas Eichhorn, Senior VP of Global Logistics at adidas shared his thoughts on succeeding in a customer-centric world. 40% of consumers research what they are buying before they buy it, so retailers must ensure they are equipping their staff with the skills and processes to ensure customers have the best experience possible.
Alex MacPherson and James Brindley from Manhattan Associates also showcased our new Customer Engagement solution which empowers call centres to provide a better touchpoint for customers who have a query or complaint. The solution shows all interactions with the brand, from social media to email to private messages which means that the service representative can pinpoint what the issue is without having to ask lots of questions or go over the same topic raised during previous interactions. The result is a seamless, positive experience for the customer. Guiseppe Guillot from Kurt Geiger also highlighted how important it is to capture data for each customer to provide a better experience.
Omnichannel is still important
Many retailers think they are providing an omnichannel experience, but is it true omnichannel? One of the key themes presented in all our sessions was the importance of providing that ‘joined up’ experience for customers. Shoppers no longer interact with a brand on just one platform - they tweet, email, go in-store and browse the website. If they are loyal to a brand, they expect them to know who they are and provide them with a personalised service experience.
The warehouse is the backbone
Front of store and website interactions are important, but it means nothing if the warehouse management and order fulfilment systems aren’t in place. Sophie Houtmeyers, VP Distribution Operations at Skechers showcased how they have rolled out a Warehouse Management System across the globe and told us that it is the ‘heartbeat’ of their retail operation. They have seen huge growth in the number of products they are able to ship, almost doubling their output since they automated their warehouse in 2014. Manhattan acts as the glue between all Sketchers’ systems and allows them to grow every year and flex their supply chain according to demand.
Manhattan’s Adam Kline highlighted the latest innovations introduced to our Warehouse Management Solution (WMS), including new advanced fulfilment intelligence, embedded WES capabilities and an intuitive cross-platform user interface.
Our enhanced Order Streaming component now offers a single, intelligent fulfilment optimisation engine capable of simultaneously processing wave, waveless and flow-through orders in a single facility. It dynamically manages different fulfilment methods with reduced order processing times, increased accuracy and higher service levels, using machine learning to orchestrate activities between workforce and automation assets. Meanwhile, Manhattan becomes the first company to embed a Warehouse Execution System (WES) within a WMS to efficiently orchestrate workflow across the full spectrum of resources. It integrates quickly and seamlessly with any automation, helps orchestrate, refine and smooth workflow across the full spectrum of site resources and coordinates operations across multiple sites. We have also introduced Unified Distribution Control, in essence an intuitive user interface, with familiar touchscreen technologies that allows supervisors to see, diagnose, and fix anything via both fixed stations and mobile tablet form factors across all major operating systems.
Beware the disruption…
It’s not news that the retail world has changed considerably over the past few years. David Johnson from Oracle shared a quote in his session that perfectly summed up the pace of change: “Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again." This sentiment was echoed in several other sessions, including our final speaker, Retail Futurist, Howard Saunders. Saunders suggested that stores have now become ‘brand playgrounds’ where consumers can experience the brand as a whole and get hands-on with products, rather than it being a conventional store.
Guiseppe Guillot from Kurt Geiger also hinted change is afoot when it comes to the traditional checkout; “There is a cultural legacy that the transaction ends at the till when in fact, it’s the beginning of a very complicated transaction where the customers expect the delivery of the product or further interaction.” Retailers must be ready and open minded to adapt to these changes and think outside the box if they are to survive in a disruptive environment.
Thank you to all who came to our event and we hope you took away some useful insights. See you next year in Barcelona!