America Today takes its next steps in Omnichannel retailing

Recently, America Today and Magnus Black have successfully implemented Click and Collect at 58 America Today stores in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Magnus Black has had the pleasure of working with this retailer since 2015. America Today is all about the American Lifestyle. It is their mission to be relevant and to put a big smile on the face of the customer. America Today is currently active in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg, but any consumer from anywhere is always more than welcome. Every single day America Today is taking steps to improve the impact of the products on people and the environment. 

We had a chat with Robert Jan Paape, IT manager at America Today, and asked him how he experienced the eventful retail year 2020, how they have responded smartly with America Today and how they can use these insights to become future-proof, using OIL. 

Looking back

Last year was a turbulent one. Stores had to close temporarily leading to a big shift from offline to online sales. Living up to delivery promises became more difficult, amongst others because of increased workload for logistic carriers. 
Pre-Covid, we used to be able to guarantee same day or next day delivery. During Covid a consumer sometimes had to wait three or even four days for their delivery.  
Obviously, as a retailer, you always put the customer’s needs first and these delivery times were not up to their expectations. 
By implementing Click and Collect as an alternative, we were however able to deliver next day, or in some cases even same day. This was huge step forward.  Offering short delivery times is very important to us. 

What's new?

Click and Collect has now been enabled using the new dispatch microservice. This dispatch determines the optimal fulfilment location very effectively, whether that’s a DC or a store. The inventory levels that we use for this process are very accurate because of the RFID technology we use for this purpose. Click and Collect was therefore easily integrated into our existing flows within OIL. This allowed us to embrace new omnichannel processes faster than if we had to build everything ourselves.  

Seeing this work in practice, realising how many of these Click and Collect orders are actually being fulfilled from store stock, is amazing! 

How did you experience the evolution of OIL since it was initially implemented?

We initially implemented OIL at America Today five years ago. At that point in time, OIL was a template solution that was previously developed for other retailers. This template was then completely adapted to suit America Today’s requirements. As a result, we grew further and further away from the “main line” product, as it’s called at Magnus Black.  
In the meantime, OIL has changed from a template to a product. Magnus works in sprints and the product is constantly improved and new functionalities are being added. This way we, as America Today, can easily keep up with the new developments. I consider the Magnus team as an extension of our own organisation. That is why we work together in a pleasant and efficient way, when introducing new functionalities but also in solving issues. 

We are very happy with the evolution of OIL between the initial implementation and now. It’s a strong basis that allows us to adopt new functionalities that are relevant to us. The advantage of OIL is that we can quickly implement new use cases and processes. Magnus is flexible because they develop their product themselves.  
Now that we have successfully implemented Click and Collect, we are already looking at what we can do next. Whether that is Ship from Store, or same day delivery with a bicycle courier in the major cities. All the required components are already in place. For instance, connecting new carriers, is relatively easy. So main question is: What’s our next step? 

Seeing this work in practice, realising how many of these Click and Collect orders are actually being fulfilled from store stock, is amazing! 

What does America Today expect from the new functionalities?

Now that we can offer Click and Collect in addition to Click and Reserve, we expect to be able to utilise the store stock more effectively. Another important point for us has always been the customer’s shopping experience. We do everything we can to serve our customers well. 

What will shopping be like in the future?

America Today is looking far ahead. The rapid changes of the past year lay the foundation for the future. The entire shopping experience has changed, so you must look for opportunities to continue to offer the customer the same service. There has already been a clear shift to online shoppinghowever physical stores will still have a role in the future as well. 

In addition to this, the balance between service and automation is important. Automation of processes helps to work faster and more effectively. Automation has also taken a role in personalised services. Service and automation seem to merge more and more, but this is only possible up to a certain extent, of course. Automation sometimes also means less personal contact. For example, a chatbot:, as a user you immediately realise that you are talking to a computer. In that case, from our perspective, automation can have a negative effect on service. Customer focus and understanding what the customer really wants is the most important thing for us as a retailer. 

Zoë Vermaes

June 15, 2021

Zoë Vermaes

“My name is Zoë Vermaes. Before for my master’s degree in Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence, I worked as a Trade MarketeerBack then, I and was already captivated by the speed, dynamics and possibilities in the world of retailers. At Magnus Black I can fully express this enthusiasm for retail and my passion for technology as an implementation consultant. 

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