Photo by Adam H.
A recent survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers for JDA Software revealed a stark reality: 83 per cent of CEOs surveyed said their supply chain is currently “not optimal” for an omni-channel retail environment. While 50 per cent cited supply chain as a strategic differentiator, only 23 per cent said supply chain management was a “top priority”.
Given the existing digital retail landscape and the speed at which it is changing, we find this news disconcerting. For retailers of soft and hard goods (e.g. apparel, electronics), this upcoming holiday season is going to be a true benchmark for whether they are ready to fulfill consumers’ omni-channel expectations. Your customer is going to expect to get any product, anytime, anywhere. In the U.S., web-influenced retail sales are expected to outpace bricks-and-mortar sales in 2015 ($1.856 trillion vs. $1.78 trillion). Are you ready to meet your customers’ expectations?
Three Keys to Omni-Channel Readiness
One of the biggest challenges of omni-channel – and one of the reasons so many were blown away by Amazon’s Firefly app – is product recognition and getting products web-ready. If you’re not already working with your supplier community to get standardized images and product attributes, and your systems are not equipped to house this data for all channels, you are definitely behind the eight-ball. This is undoubtedly one of the most daunting and painstaking tasks, but critical to your omni-channel success.
We remind clients again and again that while the data you collect is worth gold, its true value is in how you use it. Begin with clear data objectives in mind, be specific about what you want to collect and how you will use it, and have a data storage plan. Both the beauty and the curse of omni-channel is data collection: you will need to have a strategy for how all of that data will be stored.
Finally, it goes without saying that supply chain visibility is the foundation of a successful omni-channel strategy. Accurate inventory tracking is more important than ever in today’s world of “always open, always on”. Inventory accuracy will be the driver for your fulfilment strategy. Whether it’s via RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or EPC (Electronic Product Code), your goods need to be trackable wherever they reside, and as they move from one channel to another, so that you can connect the customer to them in the most efficient way.
Retail Category Consultants believes this holiday season will be a true test for retailers who are ready for omni-channel. For those who are not, it’s not too late to start thinking about how you can beef up your delivery system and keep your customers happy.