Mastering the promise: How ATP drives retail success

It is not uncommon for consumers to browse online looking for items they intend to buy, to visit multiple retailer websites and compare what each of those offer before deciding where they shall make their purchase.

What is Available-to-promise?

One of the major deciding factors that will determine the consumer’s choice is what is commonly known as ATP (Available-to-promise), which we call the Product Promise and delivery Promise. 

A Product Promise is displayed on product detail page and designates:
- Whether a product is available and in which quantities
- By which means (delivery methods) may the consumer receive the product (at-home delivery, pick-up station, express delivery, Click&Collect, reservation, last mile, etc)
- For each available delivery method: how soon shall the consumer receive or pick-up the product, how much it costs to receive the product by those means, what is the carbon footprint.

The importance of this information has been showcased by the people who participated in the 5th Unified Commerce Benchmark made by for Planet:
- 90% believe the display of delivery delays in a product’s presentation page to be useful
- 88% considers that including the cost of delivery fees are in a product’s presentation page to be handy
- 87% judge practical to able to see a product’s stock and availability in a store from the product’s presentation page
- 86% deem useful when a product’s presentation page displays available delivery methods 

Leveraging product promises is key to boosting conversion rate and consumer trustworthiness because the sooner shoppers know when they may receive their order, the sooner they will be willing to place their orders and the more accurate promises are, the higher will their satisfaction and trust be in the retailer.  This has been demonstrated by the major powerhouse of the retail industry Amazon.

This information cannot just be based on simple elements like an average delivery time delay. As its name suggests, it is a promise that a retailer must be able to grant to the shopper.

For it to be realistic and reliable, it must be computed in real-time considering several factors which may vary across different delivery methods:
1. For at-home delivery is based on the product’s current real-time inventory levels (which it would be unified stock), inventory reservations, safety inventory, the order processing time, the transportation time, the transportation provider’s delivery schedule. There can have other parameters that can affect the promise : order capping per store, order splitting,...
2. In the case of last-mile delivery the factors are the same as those mentioned above, provided that the shopper’s delivery address is eligible for this.
3. Regarding in-store withdrawals (like Click&Collect and Reserve&Collect) it depends on the store’s current inventory levels, inventory reservations, whether backorders are possible in the store, safety inventory, the store’s order preparation schedule, the order preparation time. There can have other parameters that can affect the promise.

Benefits of Available-to-promise

Not only are product promises valuable on a product’s information page, but by presenting it to a consumer all throughout their shopping journey they are aware of the options available and thus become empowered to choose how, where and when they shall receive their purchase.  

With this information being available for each individual product, it can also be consolidated on the shopping cart level which brings new dynamics to the table as the calculation must be done for all products within a cart at any step of the shopping journey. We call it the delivery promise, and it is displayed on the cart and on the last step of the checkout when the shopper needs to choose his delivery method before payment.

Planet order manager is able to compute reliable Product Promises and Delivery Promises, relying on data provided by IT system and configuration, enhancing transparency and empowering shoppers to confidently make their purchasing decisions and bringing value and trustworthiness to retailers. We deliver product and delivery promise with our API in real time for any channel.

However, this is where we may encounter issues with cases in which not all products within one same cart are available with the same delivery methods. A way to overcome this is by having what we call mixed carts, meaning a cart with the capability to contain products set on different delivery methods (all in one same cart, that can be paid in one single payment).

Planet Checkout Process enables mixed cart,  one cart may have items set to one or more delivery methods and for each the consumer ought to know: 
- Whether that or those items are available in the requested quantity 
- How soon shall they receive or pick-up those items with the delivery method of their choice
- What are the fees associated with that delivery method and what is the carbon footprint

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