On demand resourcing

On demandToday’s retail environment is hyper charged, rapidly changing, and ever accelerating. Consumers expect seamless and ever available shopping opportunities, and realtime data allows companies to analyse information and demand immediate action.

Meanwhile, sales and marketing departments are requesting on the spot tactical changes to everything from promotions to e-commerce offerings.

The challenge for businesses is remaining agile and innovative while keeping a vigilant eye on costs.

The solution? A hybrid outsourcing model focused on demand resourcing.

While outsourcing a business’ e-commerce needs to external service providers has become the norm for most, this wasn’t always the case.

The very first e-commerce sites were built inhouse from scratch, and were thus specialised and internally focused, with most or all functions managed internally.

In many cases this led to issues with cost, innovation, and demand management, which saw the rise and subsequent monopoly of outsourcing.

More recently, problems have arisen with outsourcing as it has been seen to slow down the organisation’s ability to change rapidly, with a lack of understanding of the internal workings of the business itself on the part of the vendors.

This is easily explained – most vendors are servicing a number of clients and are not as focused on an individual business as much as the business’ internal staff.

Enter a small but growing trend – companies that have previously outsourced e-commerce functions are bringing them back inhouse, or ‘insourcing’.

But the problems with insourcing haven’t disappeared. In fact, they’re more pronounced than ever in this volatile environment.

A middle ground does exist – a hybrid, on demand model where key actionable functions and tactical changes are brought inhouse, but strategic support and management of the systems powering this enablement are outsourced.

Organisations need to be enabled to deliver the day to day themselves while load balancing resources, technology, and expertise with selected expert partners and vendors.

Such a model sees the day to day running, updating, and tactical changing in medium to large organisations implemented inhouse, with the vendor used ‘on demand’ for larger projects, large scale innovation, strategy, and support.

The cloud has further enabled this hybrid outsourced model with on demand e-commerce, CRM, sales, and customer contact management systems now readily available. These systems offer organisations the technology and smarts without the accompanying infrastructure and innovation limitations of traditional implementations.

Advantages of on demand

An on demand, hybrid model helps overcome the common challenge that companies face around being able to meet unpredictable, fluctuating demands in an efficient manner.

Businesses today need to be agile, with the ability to scale resources, both staff and technology, easily and quickly based on rapidly changing market needs.

As an organisation’s demand for resources can vary dramatically from one period of time to another, maintaining sufficient resources to meet peak requirements can be costly and inefficient.

By using such a model, companies can cut costs and increase efficiencies. They must have well trained, change enabled resources internally, with an ability to call on vendors to load balance.

It allows internal teams to be more responsive to changing business demands while providing choice, reducing costs, and improving efficiency.

It’s essential that vendors work closely with retailers and brands to train and enable them to do their own day to day e-commerce changes.

When businesses need changes made, the internal team is then enabled to deliver the required services and solutions in a timely manner without significant additional investment – new websites, new regions, new brands, upgrades are all managed seamlessly inhouse.

Larger organisations and those with dedicated e-commerce resources, should have the company’s own resources work alongside the vendor to learn from the ground up how the technology works and how they can develop on the platform in the future.

The benefits:
•    Increased speed to market and agility
•    Take ownership – you know your business best
•    Reduce costs
•    Build internal capabilities
•    Alignment with business strategies
•    Alignment of timing with business initiatives
•    Motivated up to date staff.

The risks that arise with this model are partnerships with the wrong vendors, in which communication, systems processes, and changes are not well managed and documented. There are also risks if internal staff are not well trained and kept up to date.

How do you make it work?
•    The organisation’s team needs to be adequately skilled and trained
•    The vendor and the organisation need to work together (both in spirit and in letter) following the processes agreed and documented
•    All changes need to be documented and tested
•    Open, timely, and frequent communication is key.

Conversations with retailers continue to reveal one constant – there is always a need to move faster.

The new organisational nirvana is to have adaptable technology, actionable data, and empowered staff with a vendor in the wings to enable, support and help load balance – a hybrid on demand model where the vendor empowers and educates companies to enable them to effectively manage, update, and innovate their own omni- channel offer.

Justus Wilde is principle strategist at specialist e-commerce and digital consultancy, Amblique. For more information, phone (02) 8272 3800, or visit amblique.com


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