Submitted on Wed, 2014-10-22
By Jim Laverty

Your supply chain faces a steep challenge as retailing evolves to Omni Channel. Make sure your technology is ready to step up to the task.

Technology is Key to Omni Channel Success

36% of in-store purchases are directly influenced by digital channels (either through research or through selecting in-store pickup). That is up a staggering 157% from just 14% in 2012. Based on preliminary data from this year so far, that number is predicted to jump above 50% in 2014. There’s no sense in singling out retailing as “Omni Channel” anymore. It is just the way things are now.

Mobile devices are changing everything. The entire purchasing process for a single person has become blended and can span from the computer to a mobile device to an in-store visit. Consumers need the items they desire to be in stock and available as close to them as possible, and if they cannot get that, they’ll almost instantly move onto a competitor.

The only way to deliver the optimal customer is to have the advanced technology in place that manages inventory across the entire operation and allows for full inventory transparency across all platforms. From a logistical standpoint, nothing is more important than having accurate and instant data throughout your supply chain.

 

How Your Supply Chain Needs to Rise to the Omni Channel Challenge

There’s no faking advanced technology. Excel and other outdated software systems cannot support the inherent complexity of a multichannel operation. Is your supply chain equipped with the advanced technology necessary to handle each of the following scenarios?

Inventory Transparency
70% of consumers expect to be able to view accurate inventory data for a product on your website. Your employees also need to be able to see where your inventory is. This will help them order products from nearby locations for customers or help them push the customers to your other locations. From sales associates to fulfillment managers getting your products across the country, everybody needs to know where the products are and how to get them to the consumer as quickly as possible.

Same-Day Delivery
Until the day comes that you can instantly teleport solid objects like something out of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, same-day delivery is the current gold standard for retail logistics. Imagine being able to order a new Xbox One as you would a pizza. Click a few buttons and 30 minutes later, the system is at your door and ready to be played.

Ship from Store
Any one of your locations becomes a fulfillment center. Instead of coming from a warehouse, the product can come from a store in the same town the customer is in, cutting shipping costs and time.

In-Store Pick Up
Allow your customers to purchase items online and then pick them up an hour later on their way home from work. This is also a big plus for consumers that cannot reliable receive packages at their address.

Free Delivery
According to Forrester Research, 59% of consumers think shipping costs are the biggest concern when making purchases online. If you can’t offer fast and free shipping, expect that sale to go to one of your competitors that can.

Drive-Through Windows
Imagine in-store pickup, but even more convenient. In the Advertising Age report, a major retailer is mentioned as being able to deliver an item for curbside pickup within five minutes of your arrival, but that still seems a little slow. Eventually, a retailer is going to be able to deliver products in an instant, just like a fast food restaurant.

Order In-Store
If a certain item happens to be out of stock, can you quickly help the consumer order it while they’re still in the store (either through a sales associate or an unmanned kiosk)? Delivery costs and speed will play a huge role in whether or not you can keep the sale.

Buy Online and Return In-Store
You need a truly connected and transparent organization to pull this one off. Can your inventory and sales systems work through every channel to provide a seamless experience for the consumer? As a bonus, this can get people back in your physical stores for potential impulse purchases.

Your supply chain needs to be connected, visible, smart, and ready to meet those demands. Your systems need to agile and easily scalable to meet the ever-changing demands of your consumers. Integrating every means that consumers interact with your products along the purchasing cycle in your backend systems is a must. In order for retailers to survive, it’s the only way to be truly Omni Channel.

 

There’s a reason why your supply chain plays the largest role in customer satisfaction of your organization. Your ability to get your products into the customer’s hands as quickly, safely, and cheaply as possible is all they’re really going to care about.

 

Learn More about Running a Successful Supply Chain

We’ve long called technology and transparency two of the five keys to every successful supply chain. Learn more about how you can reduce costs by exploring some of our other blog posts and giving our experts a call to talk about how your organization can run a more profitable supply chain.

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IRMS WM Blog