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How to achieve real-time visibility with Whiplash and Shopify

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Today’s customer journeys involve multiple touchpoints across a variety of channels – and customers expect it to be seamless. Where consumers once had the option of either buying in-store or online, this has since transformed into multi-directional shopping journeys that put customers at the center of the shopping experience. 

Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store, in-store returns, and store-based fulfillment have all become par to the course in an omnichannel retail landscape. But many retailers are still lacking a vital ingredient, real-time visibility into their supply chain. 

Without access to real-time insights on inventory and order fulfillment, businesses will struggle to pinpoint whether SKUs are being stored in the right location to ensure the fastest possible delivery or identify inefficiencies in the picking process that slow down fulfillment. 

With the power of the Whiplash-Shopify integration, Shopify merchants can take all of the stress out of inventory and order management and focus on what matters most; ensuring a positive experience for your customers.

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We’re going to take a look at why real-time visibility matters and how you can achieve it with Whiplash and Shopify.

Why real-time visibility matters 

Lower fulfillment costs

It’s no secret that fulfillment is expensive, especially when merchants are under pressure to meet faster delivery timeframes. Supply chain inefficiencies can also quickly add up to higher than necessary costs due to human error or outdated EDI systems. 

Real-time visibility gives you the ability to track SKUs during each stage of the fulfillment process, providing a rich source of data that helps you identify key sales and inventory trends. This means increased understanding of product lifecycles and customer demand, allowing you to plan ahead more effectively and eliminate costly circumstances such as stockouts or late delivery. 

Faster lead times

Consumer expectations for rapid delivery have never been higher. The market for same-day delivery is forecast to be worth $9.6 billion in the United States by 2022, and ecommerce merchants all want their piece of this extremely lucrative space.

If a customer who places an order at 11 am is going to receive it by their selected delivery window, to end-to-end process needs to be seamless. Even a delay of few minutes per stage of fulfillment can translate to being hours behind schedule on delivery. To truly guarantee same-day delivery capabilities, there’s very little room for error.

Real-time visibility gives you the data to see where unnecessary hold-ups are taking place during the fulfillment process, helping you to iron out inefficiencies and speed up order processing for on-time delivery.  

Reduced pressure on customer care

Out of all the inquiries that customer care teams handle, ‘where is my order?’ is surely the most common. 

Support staff will typically spend hours each day searching for order and shipping information to give customers accurate updates, which takes time away from managing more complex issues. This also results in high labor costs, with businesses typically requiring large teams to manage the volume of service requests they receive.

Real-time order visibility is a game-changer for customer care. It allows teams to easily find up-to-date order and shipping information to solve requests quickly, increasing customer satisfaction and building brand trust. Moreover, you can choose to take a proactive approach by giving customers periodic updates or branded tracking links to check at their leisure. This opens the door to smaller customer care teams who can handle requests more effectively.

What real-time visibility looks like to your customers

Fewer stockouts

While it isn’t possible to predict every surge in consumer demand or case of supply chain disruption (as COVID-19 can attest) the majority of stockouts are due to preventable causes, such as inaccurate inventory reporting and/or insufficient sales forecasts.

This is costly not just for your business, but also for your customers’ loyalty towards your brand. Studies have shown that consumers experience stockouts as often as one in every three shopping trips, costing retailers as much as $1 trillion a year in lost revenue.

In such a competitive ecommerce landscape, you don’t want to give your customers more reasons to shop around. With real-time inventory management, you can identify potential stockouts before they happen, allowing you to avoid lost sales opportunities by bolstering your inventory levels.

Leveraging O2O retail strategies

There’s a lot of debate over what post-pandemic retail will look like, but almost every commentator can agree that omnichannel retail offerings, initially introduced out of necessity, are here to stay. 

More than 50% of consumers say they will continue to use BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) with a third saying they plan on increasing their use of the service. In-store returns are also on the rise as consumers look for ways to combat return shipping costs in ecommerce. 

As consumers adjust to this greater convenience and flexibility in their shopping journeys, bridging this gap with O2O (Online to Offline) strategies is essential to deliver the hybridized retail experiences that customers have come to expect. 

Having real-time visibility into inventory levels at each store location makes it possible for orders to be allocated accurately during the checkout process, preventing stockouts that can massively slow down the fulfillment process and add friction to the customer experience.

Alleviating delivery anxiety

We’ve all experienced delivery anxiety – those feelings of stress when we have no idea if our order is going to arrive on time. It’s a symptom of a much broader issue within ecommerce; a lack of engagement from merchants during the post-purchase phase.

Often, this happens because merchants don’t have an effective way of identifying where orders are situated in the fulfillment and shipping process. As a result, customers receive few updates after making a purchase – or even none at all. If customers don’t know if their order has been shipped or when it’s going to arrive, this very quickly erodes trust in your brand.

Real-time order visibility enables you to integrate key touchpoints into the post-purchase experience in the form of emails or SMS. This reassures customers and helps them to build greater affinity with your brand. 

How Whiplash delivers real-time visibility to Shopify customers

Visibility starts with seamless integration

Equipped with Whiplash’s powerful two-way Shopify integration, Shopify customers can easily sync inventory and order information with the Whiplash system for accessible, real-time insights into your operation. 

When a customer places an order via your Shopify store, Whiplash will ship items automatically according to your preferred method and update your inventory to reflect this action – no manual processes required.

Enable branded email notifications for Shopify customers

Set up completely customizable email templates that trigger once a certain milestone is reached, ensuring that your customers always stay in the loop.

Set custom routing rules 

Our intelligent routing system allows you to set Order Rules according to custom criteria, giving you an unprecedented level of visibility and control over your orders and shipping preferences.

Browse your orders with ease

Whiplash’s intuitive OSM interface allows you to see the status of all outstanding orders at one glance: filterable by order status, shipping method, and selling channel for maximum convenience.

Full visibility over inventory levels

The Shopify-Whiplash integration ensures that your SKU counts are always kept up to date to reflect your latest sales activity – no matter where your products are housed.

Rapid fulfillment. Fast shipping. Every time.

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