In the last few years, traditional retailers have finally woken up to the huge threat posed by e-commerce retailers such as Amazon. The impact of the internet has turned the traditional based bricks and mortar retailers almost inside out.
The warehouse buffers, the safety stocks in the shops and the charges these entail which are reflected in price have now been truly exposed. The internet has provided a hassle free alternative to people who prefer to order from their home and then receive it in their home the very next day.
Not all shoppers like shopping the traditional way and for a lot of traditional retailers it has meant the end. Of course not all shoppers like the internet, some items still need a personal look a feel, and some customers prefer the personalised service from knowledgeable staff in a real shop. This has created a new dimension – Omni-Channel – the need to service through multiple channels.
Success Requires Service, Speed and Efficiency
One way that bricks and mortar retailers have responded to e-retailers has been to turn their stores into more of an asset with Omni-Channel commerce. Omni-Channel is based on providing consumers with a more seamless shopping experience by utilising both stores and the e-commerce channels. The idea is that a customer should be able to go to a store, see something they like, and order it for home delivery. Or order the item online and pick it up at a store. The same considerations apply to returns.
Delivery Requires Strategy, Planning, and Process
Not as simple as it sounds. Questions have to be asked about the physical network, the design of the warehouse, the design of the shop, the technologies needed to manage such multi-channel approaches.
Can you imagine having a warehouse delivering into a traditional replenishment network to store with day 1 for day 2 and 3 turnaround and then starting to deliver into a day 1 for day 1 parcel network as well? What systems would you need, how would you organise the warehouse? And what if you also delivered via a wholesale network?
Key questions need to be asked before you decide what systems you need and what processes you put in place. Is the definition of your supply chain strategy in line with your business plan? Is it cost effective to service a multi-channel operation? Do you have the infrastructure to handle the orders? What inventory policy do you now need? All these are the typical questions getting asked when WBS Group talk about the new industry buzz word, ‘Omni-Channel’.
In simple terms, a multi-channel operation needs to be thought through very carefully, as it affects the whole end to end supply chain.