PROFILE

Natalie Walkley

Director of Marketing, Deck Commerce OMS

Natalie has spent the last 12+ years helping brands effectively tell their story through digital marketing. In her current role, she brings together her experience in retail, logistics, and software to help retailers simplify order management with Deck Commerce — the leading OMS for DTC retailers.

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  • Posted on: 06/22/2021

    Levi Strauss COO says partners helped it get through the pandemic

    Strong partnerships with subject-focused SMEs are vital in retail. As the old adage says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    What distinguished e-commerce winners and losers during the pandemic?

    This is surprising to me to read, as other than industry (like TP, sanitzer, etc.) I don't think any retailer would say they just "got lucky" last year. I think any "luck" as you call it would be the result of good planning, proper systems, and strong partnerships prior to the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    What distinguished e-commerce winners and losers during the pandemic?

    We all heard the word "pivot" ad nauseam last year, but the brands and retailers that thrived were the ones who had agility with their technology and supply chain. These brands had the ability to make quick moves like enabling cross-channel inventory sellability via OMS, converting stores to micro-fulfillment centers, and leveraging already-strong DTC muscles to continue to reach customers, etc. They seemed to have better outcomes during and after the pandemic. Them and the toilet paper, wine, and athleisure industries. :)
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Is now a good time for retailers to open new stores?

    Presumably many of these brands had plans to expand their store footprint before the pandemic. While 2020 might have delayed the timing, the now-lower-cost and availability of space has enabled them to revitalize their original plans for expansion, but now with more advantages than before. Each of these brands play in vastly different industries and business models—and therefore will have vastly different experiences and reasons for opening more stores. 1) Bargain stores claim more stake in rural areas, where online shopping is not as fast and convenient for day-to-day items. 2) Athleisure is booming, and now that people feel safe to go into stores, they might be more willing to do so to get the right "fit." 3) As a digitally native brand, Warby Parker quickly embraced the omni-mindset to their stores, and while the 5 pair try-on-at-home is a fun experience—so is the unlimited-pair-try-on in the showroom/store. So while it somewhat feels counterintuitive to expand physical footprint when e-commerce is booming, if these brands truly know their buyers, have a strategic plan and cost/benefit analysis for expansion, and can leverage the omnichannel mindset to enable channels to operate efficiently—then they just might be getting ahead of where other brands want to go in 3-5 years when the pandemic and lack of in-store shopping is more of a distant memory.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2021

    What digital tools can help manage increasingly disrupted supply chains?


    The most beneficial tools are the ones that follow Lean Principles—creating more value, less waste. We see customers most excited about automation features that streamline processes, and don't replace people but enhance their roles to enable them to focus on the most rewarding work (for both them and the company). We'll continue to see more robotics in warehouses (co-bots in particular that work alongside people), and more retailers looking for best-in-breed tools that drive automated processes.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Retail brands are smart to make things as easy as possible for Boomers, especially since some may be nearing the stage where they continue to stay home due to mobility or health reasons. These brands are thinking beyond the "buy button" and removing friction in the buying process, even if it may require more of their teams to do so. This is the best thing for consumers, brands, and the retail industry overall.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2021

    What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?

    One of Amazon's greatest strengths as a marketplace is its sole ownership of data, customer information, and analytics. They seem to be willing to share a white-label version of it with sellers to drive more sales — which benefits both Amazon and sellers. I think brands will experiment with it, if nothing else to test promotions, but it's a far cry from the brand control that DTC brands want.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    What goes into delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience?

    The most important parameter for wowing customers is to truly understand them, whether online or in-store.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2021

    Can omnichannel be as profitable for retailers as in-store sales?

    Agreed! Returns are paramount to profitability and retailers are getting creative at how to turn a historic liability line item into a profitable one. (I.e. Holding a credit to leverage before processing a return, incentivizing a repurchase, etc.) The good news is that 92 percent of consumers say they will buy from a retailer again *if* the returns process is easy.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2021

    Can omnichannel be as profitable for retailers as in-store sales?

    Not only is online profitability growing, but we also know that omnichannel shoppers tend to spend more both in A.) transaction size and B.) lifetime value. So the balancing act is not only critical to channel profitability but overall customer retention. Some key aspects of getting this right that we have seen with customers 1.) Cross-channel inventory visibility *and* being able to expose that to consumers. 2.) The ability to allocate inventory percentages to different channels, and adjust quickly (sans customization) as needed to meet demand.3.) Access to raw data and analytics to make strategic decisions that drive merchandising, purchasing, allocation, and SKUs by channel and inventory levels. 4.) The ability to configure business-based logic and best practices to routing to eliminate fulfillment complexities and automation as many orders as possible, while not risking disappointing customers with a poor experience. We've seen several brands we work with nail this. One in particular is Build-a-Bear. With a HEAVY in-store experience focus, they were able to pivot their stores to micro-distribution centers in less than a month and leverage a true omnichannel inventory and fulfillment model to see steady growth.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2021

    Where will ‘disruptive innovation’ take the retail business?

    "An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon," and the same is true for consumer behaviors and how disruptive innovation changes the course for retail. Consumer needs don't always drive innovation as much as innovation changes and expands consumer needs/wants. For example, very few of us knew we "needed" a Garmin for directions, because we had paper maps. Now, we don't even need a separate device because the technology is built into devices we already have. Another step higher, and soon we'll use self-driving cars. Likewise in fulfillment centers, consumers aren't are looking for ways for pickers to decrease their steps — they just want their stuff faster. That led companies to leverage robots and pick-to-light systems to improve efficiency and speed up fulfillment. But even that customer "need" can change, as we saw with COVID-19 as people were OK waiting longer shipping times for goods.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2021

    Will Bed Bath & Beyond achieve its omni-always dream with its latest digital-first moves?

    "Omni-always" is a good mantra for retailers, and certainly table stakes in the current market. However shifting a strong brick-and-mortar business to "omni-always" is like getting the ship stuck in the Suez Canal free. :/ It's complex, will require top to bottom assessment and realignment — and buy-in from stakeholders willing to sacrifice something to shift their processes and technology.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2021

    Are you feeling loyal?

    Loyalty programs have historically been very popular with airlines and hotels—but oftentimes are "forced participation" more than customer-driven brand advocacy. However several brands have cracked the loyalty code by offering incentives that don't necessarily cut profits and margin. One example is Madewell, which offers free shipping to participants of their Insider program. You submit your name and email and then you get first-hand access to promos and free shipping. They know that their consumers already want/expect free shipping, but they add an incentive for them to opt into their marketing to get it. Overall, there's a needed distinction for true "loyalty" programs that resonate and inspire consumers vs. programs that are just tallying historic behaviors and assigning redeemable no-cost-to-the-vendor points accordingly. Perhaps "participation" program is a more accurate term for the latter.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2021

    Are retailers prepared to respond to increasing supply chain complexity?

    Given the shift to direct-to-consumer strategies, many retailers are investing in comprehensive order management systems (OMS) to help facilitate (and automate!) the critical stages of the supply chain for fulfillment: 1) Omnichannel inventory visibility — to optimize availability and shift around to meet cross-channel consumer demand. 2) Smart order orchestration based on business logic and logistics efficiencies (proximity to the consumer, warehouse capacity, ship from store, etc.). 3) Robust return management processes— given consumers' hesitancy or inability to "try on" certain things, reverse logistics is busier than ever, so leveraging technology to let consumers initiate returns, and automate communications throughout is paramount to faster inventory recovery and restocking. Any supply chain technologies that are focused on helping retailers automate time-consuming "links" in the process are gaining traction and success.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2021

    The next evolution of the supply chain will be all about visibility

    One critical aspect of real-time inventory is cross-channel inventory visibility and the ability to expose inventory levels to the people that need to see it. (AKA customers and retailers!) Without this capability there is little retailers can do in terms of "real-time" agility and shifting inventory levels around to meet fluctuating demands, or turn on/off certain fulfillment nodes that have the inventory and capacity to fulfill customer orders and prevent lost sales. Over time, retailers can use historic data to leverage omnichannel inventory visibility, set safety stock levels, node capacity, and other parameters that help keep the latter end of the supply chain running smoothly—and customers happy! Visibility has been a key to the supply chain for years now, but the focus on real-time, omnichannel inventory and agility has become paramount in the last 24 months, no doubt.

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