Retailers and manufacturers 'struggling to automate fulfillment' – study

Nine out of 10 European retail and manufacturing firms are struggling to automate the order-to-fulfillment cycle and many face major application integration challenges, according to research conducted by Vanson Bourne for Sterling Commerce.

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Nine out of 10 European retail and manufacturing firms are struggling to automate the order-to-fulfillment cycle and many face major application integration challenges, according to research conducted by Vanson Bourne for Sterling Commerce.

And the study, conducted among IT managers in the UK, France and Germany, found that process gaps are preventing 72% of companies from adding new sales channels to target growth market opportunities.

The results reveal that UK businesses have the lowest levels of application integration across Europe, with 20% not integrated at all. As many as one in five UK respondents admitted to gaining no competitive advantage at all from their IT systems.

The survey also found that despite operating fewer supply chain management applications than their European counterparts, 57% of UK IT managers admitted that they lacked a consolidated view of data across their supply chains, compared with 14% in France and 33% in Germany. In turn, 50% of UK IT managers said they felt confident they could track orders in real time – a key requirement of efficient order-to-fulfillment –compared with 64% of French and 63% of German respondents.

David Hogg of Sterling Commerce said the results “strongly suggest that UK businesses are facing a dual challenge: not only is poor integration having an impact on internal efficiency, but it is actually adversely impacting their ability to respond quickly to changing market demands, such as profitably launching a new sales channel or on-boarding new trading partners.”

Hogg said 60% of UK companies did not currently rely on the web to conduct business, and unless they addressed the underlying challenges associated with a lack of integration they would continue to miss out on market opportunities.

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