Omni-channel Excellence or Risk Obsolescence: Scalability, Optimization and Profitability.
Shoppers expect convenience and choice. Retailers must implement solutions to orchestrate orders, gain network-wide inventory visibility, and use products from one channel to serve customers in another. In short: achieve omni-channel excellence.
One of the biggest trends in retail is the tech-enabled customer. Today’s customers expect to be able to buy products from any channel: e-commerce sites, Twitter, Facebook, and in-store. This means stores have to be ready to accept orders from anywhere at any time. Retailers have begun to respond to these changes by introducing “Buy Online, Pickup in Store” and “Buy Online, Ship from Store.” But the operational maturity of most retailers could be described as Omni-Channel 1.0.
Just 15 percent of retailers say their omni-channel capabilities’ value, compared to status, are fully synchronized in terms of providing a consistent customer experience across all channels. This is according to RSR Research’s “NRF15: Post-Show Debrief” webinar on January 29, 2015, in which the research company cited its own “Omni-Channel 2014: Double Trouble” (October 2014) report. The company noted other challenges retailers say they face: only 21 percent said fulfillment, and just 22 percent their ability to view inventory across all channels, capabilities are fully synchronized with their value.
Currently retailers’ efforts to provide a unified, compelling experience for customers online and in-stores is hampered by inefficient handoffs among pre-existing, siloed technologies and store associates. As a result, store associates execute omni-channel strategy using inefficient, manual processes, which leads to a suboptimal customer experience.
Let’s take a look at the state of omni-channel fulfillment today:
- Inaccurate Workload Forecasts: Today’s labor forecasting does not account for e-commerce order fulfillment. Labor is not allocated specifically to pick and pack e-commerce orders. The result is suboptimal omni-channel fulfillment: orders are processed as either an afterthought or at the cost of in-store customer service.
- Non-prioritized Picking: Stores can’t control when a product is ordered online, when it will be picked up, or when it has to arrive at its destination. If Customer A orders a product on Monday morning to be delivered on Friday while Customer B orders a product on Monday evening to be picked up on Wednesday, many current systems cannot prioritize Customer B’s order even though it is due earlier.
- Inefficient Picking and Shipping Methods: Current omni-channel fulfillment systems have no insight into employee skillsets. In retail, even a few minutes of lost time on the floor can result in lost sales. If an order comes in for a high-quality fishing rod, the order management system cannot allocate the task to a knowledgeable associate who knows exactly where to find the specific product
- Inaccurate Customer Notification: Some customers go to stores only when it is absolutely necessary. If they have an order that is to be picked up at a certain time, that is the sole reason to leave the house. If the product is not ready when customers expect, it could jeopardize their chances of ever coming back to your brand. Customer experience is the most important factor in the success of omni-channel strategy.
To meet customer expectations for a seamless omni-channel experience, retailers require centralized inventory, order processing and fulfillment capabilities coupled with smart sourcing and workforce management to execute flexible fulfillment strategies in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. Together, these capabilities can help retailers achieve omni-channel excellence in the following ways:
- Accurately prioritize and allocate labor for all required work: corporate, daily, customer service, and omni-channel
- Efficiently pick and ship orders to maximize workforce productivity and meet service level goals
- Automatically prioritize order picks and ships for common-sense fulfillment
- Provide customers with accurate updates on order status regarding pickup and shipment arrival
Reflexis StorePulse® real-time execution software, integrated with Order Management Systems from companies such as IBM and Zebra Technologies, enables retailers to implement and execute omni-channel fulfillment strategies to better serve today’s demanding and sophisticated shopper.