Retailers managing multiple brands face unique challenges. They may have different distribution partners for each brand. Or might want to test a subset of their products under one brand but not another.

And where is the inventory data for each brand stored? Often, the data is stuck in siloed systems. That makes it more complex—not to mention time consuming—to get a full, accurate view of inventory for all brands, across all locations and sales channels.

But competitive retailers may need an up to date, accurate view of stock and configure fulfillment logic by brand. Legacy systems often mean it takes ages—and a lot of development resources—to make changes happen. As a result, multi-brand organisations are missing out on the advantages of a true cross-brand experience for their customers.

Here are four tips to add more brands to your retail business with ease:

1. Create the structure to fit your business

Choose an Order Management System that enables you to pick an organisational structure to best suit your business needs. For example, you might divide your organisation into brands or geographies or a combination of both. Or you might set up different types of organisations, such as retail, marketplace, and wholesale. Next, you’ll define which data should be unique to each division, and which should be shared.

2. Share data across divisions where appropriate

Allow each division to access all locations and inventory across your organisation whilst defining their own rules for how they fulfill orders.

That said, just because inventory and locations are shared doesn’t mean you have to sell all that stock via every division. You can also use inventory rules to virtually segment what stock and locations you make available to promise to each brand or region. This provides granular control over what you sell where so you can easily:

–              Only sell a subset of your products in a particular region

–              Test a new product or category in a market

–              Apply different buffer or safety stock levels by brand or region

3. Enable an integrated cross-brand experience

When each business unit can access the locations and inventory of other business units, you can explore new fulfillment models. For example:

Cross Brand Click and Collect

Let’s say you’re a multi-brand organisation with stores, and you use your stores as pickup locations. Some customers may live closer to a Brand A store, while others will live closer to a Brand B store. If a customer places an order on the Brand A website, can they pick it up from their local Brand B store?

If instead of home delivery, you offer pickup at their closest store, are they more likely to make an additional purchase while they’re there?

Cross Brand Merchandising

While some of your brands may have very distinct products, others may not. What if you could test popular products or accessories from one brand on the online storefront of another? Could you gain new insights into customer segments and behaviour? Or increase the average order value?

Cross Brand Returns

No one likes returns. Especially not customers. But what if you could offer them more convenient return options? If customers can return an online purchase at any of the stores in your network, would that make them more inclined to buy? After all, over 50% of consumers review return policies and processes before making a buying decision.

Cross Region Fulfillment

What if your Australian website receives an order that can’t be fulfilled from an Australian DC or store. Can your Australian website check to see if the item is available in New Zealand instead?

In short, if you can share stock and locations across your brands and regions, it gives you new ways to add value and convenience for your customers and provide a truly integrated cross brand experience.

4. Use templates to accelerate expansion

As you grow, it’s important to maximise economies of scale. That’s where templates come in.

In Fluent Order Management you can create a reusable set of templates for business rules and processes that serves as the base fulfillment logic for each new region or brand. But it can be modified to meet local or brand specific requirements. That way you can accelerate rollout and bring on new brands or regions in a matter of weeks. Templates can be used for user roles and permissions too.

Jamie Cairns is chief strategy officer at Fluent Commerce.