Omnichannel logistics create a consumer-centric, seamless sales experience no matter what the purchase path – via store, mobile or online. Synchronizing the shopping ecosystem, however, requires supply chain innovation to create smooth online and offline processes that give retailers a competitive edge with connected consumers.
Consumers now want to be able to shop anywhere, anytime, including options to buy, pickup, deliver and return products at their wish. Perfecting the omnichannel supply chain not only offers connected customers the ultimate in convenience, it lets brick-and-mortar outlets gain new profit channels and boost in-store sales, with 24% of Europeans spending more in-store when they pick up orders placed online. What are the success points for optimizing omnichannel operations to best serve these shoppers?
Better visibility with ERP technology
Smooth operations are founded on available and accurate data, with market leaders using analytics to control processes and target weaknesses to excel at managing rush activity periods.
“Understanding how ERP technology improves inventory and warehouse management is indispensable in omnichannel logistics,” advises Philippe Bourriot, FM Logistic’s E-commerce and Crosschannel Business Development Director.
Efficiency can be increased by adding an SAP solution to track inventory by unit instead of by bulk, which provides the data for visibility across all channels to put the right product in the right place.
Flexible fulfillment with e-commerce techniques
Omnichannel orders need to be fulfilled with the same level of reactivity no matter where they initiate. Even in a shopping rush like the recent Black Friday weekend, brick-and-mortar stores are used to having time to prepare in advance, organize promotions, stock shelves and hire staff. But in an omnichannel supply chain, this fulfillment approach needs to be faster or it will be a barrier to success.
“E-commerce culture is reactive by nature because an order is known only the second it hits, then fulfillment starts immediately. Applying ecommerce techniques to store deliveries helps them respond more quickly and handle bigger demand,” says Philippe Bourriot.
In an omnichannel supply chain, this means stores need to react like e-retailers, which anticipate volume, forecast demand and set guidelines for packing orders. They can also implement technologies to increase fulfillment process efficiency such as batch picking, goods-to-man and shuttles.
Using these e-commerce techniques, stores can productively compete with online pure players, while being flexible to not disrupt the in-store experience – the best of both online and offline shopping for their customers. They will be able to offer buy online then pick up in-store (BOPIS) or provide ship-from-store services, with the option to return online orders in-store.
Proximity to shoppers for fast delivery
Timing is crucial in an omnichannel supply chain, with 88% of global consumers willing to pay for faster delivery.
Philippe Bourriot highlights: “Consumer proximity is the answer. A master warehouse should manage all stock and standard deliveries, while another close-to-shopper warehouse provides fast delivery to customers and quick refills to nearby stores.”
One major cosmetics label excels at this method by stocking its best-selling products in mini-distribution centers near major shopping hubs so consumers get products when they want them, either through rapid direct delivery or via convenient BOPIS, which is on the rise in Europe with 42% of consumers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden having used it in the past twelve months.
Partner with marketing to know needs
“Internal collaboration with marketing is a great way to identify who is placing orders, where and why. Leaders like Amazon, FNAC and Darty have good omnichannel practices because they know their customers inside and out,” says Philippe Bourriot.
Understanding omnichannel shoppers is an opportunity to maximize sales and create synergies, while satisfying customers with personalized service – and they are a valuable segment worth pleasing considering they currently generate 27% of all sales, despite representing only 7% of all customers.
The upcoming holiday season 2018 is a perfect occasion to find out just what these consumers want and target them with stellar omnichannel performance!