March 11, 2004, 12:00 AM

How fulfillment figures into customer loyalty

Order fulfillment is an important part of customer loyalty--and that doesn’t mean just getting the product to the customer in the time promised. It means making the product available when the customer is shopping for it--and then delivering it on time.

Order fulfillment is an important part of customer loyalty--and that doesn’t mean just getting the product to the customer in the time promised. It means making the product available when the customer is shopping for it--and then delivering it on time.

“In this day and age of immediate gratification, if I’m on the web looking for a polo shirt and the site I’m looking at doesn’t have it, with just a couple of clicks I can find five, 10 or 100 sites that do,” says Donny Askin, CEO of CommercialWare Inc. “Brand loyalty is still there, but it’s not as entrenched or as deep as it was.”

Thus retailers need to make sure they can fulfill all orders and none of their inventory sits idle when there is a potential buyer. “Retailers need to be able to fulfill orders from any and all channels and never lose a sale,” Askin says. “If an order comes in over the web, and the product is not in the distribution center, a retail enterprise needs to be able to pull it from a store to fulfill the order and not lose the sale.”

CommercialWare is rolling out its new CWLocate product that ties together enterprisewide inventory so a retailer can know inventory status throughout a chain, Askin says. Askin foresees the day when inventory management systems will extend into the supply chain in real time so retailers can know suppliers’ inventory status and incorporate that knowledge into their own inventory status reports. “The name of the game is to service the customer. If you do that, they’ll keep coming back.”

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