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The Visible Value Blog

The March Toward Omnichannel Retail: Why You Need to Compete

Posted by Tom Moore

May 11, 2016 at 9:53 AM

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Retailers know that it’s no longer enough to just have an online retail presence. You need to have an integrated online, mobile and in-store sales strategy that allows you to offer a personalized, easy shopping experience for your customers.

The reality is however, that while retailers say they want their operations to be more customer-centric and omnichannel focused, 80 percent are simply not ready for the change, according to a recent HRC Advisory study.[i]

Here are three strategies that can help you execute an effective omnichannel strategy.

STRATEGY 1: A HOLISTIC APPROACH

Remember that the migration to omnichannel touches the entire company – and take a holistic look to see where your operations can be improved. A migration to omnichannel touches all aspects of a retailer’s operations – from stores and the supply chain to merchandising and marketing. All of these operations now need to talk to each other – from in-store cash registers to ecommerce fulfillment centers. Many retailers are not equipped to make the leap and connect all their operations at once, but they can also choose to start on a smaller scale. For instance, they could set the goal of achieving greater inventory visibility into only their high-velocity items. And that brings us to strategy #2…

STRATEGY 2: INVENTORY VISIBILITY

Better inventory visibility should be your #1 priority. If you don’t know where your inventory is, you cannot execute an effective omnichannel strategy – and you cannot offer shoppers the kind of “one store” experience they are looking for. Unfortunately, the truth is that the average inventory accuracy for retailers is only around 68 percent. While retailers may be overwhelmed at the thought of trying to reach 90+ percent accuracy for all their merchandise, it may be more achievable to focus on a few high-velocity items. For instance, a retailer could make the commitment to achieve higher than 90 percent inventory accuracy on the SKUs of 10 of its best-selling products.

STRATEGY 3: DISTRIBUTED ORDER MANAGEMENT

Consider implementing a distributed order management system. Not only do these systems help you get product to your customer in the fastest, most efficient manner, they also give you a more complete, centralized view of that customer to help you deliver better service and increase sales. Until recently, many retailers have dismissed order management systems as back-office functions – and have been happy to leave these systems to the supply chain professionals.[ii] But retailers are quickly learning the strategic value of having one view of the customer – so that you know exactly who is shopping whether they are on your website, in the store or clicking the “buy” pin on Pinterest. This not only lets you serve customers better and increase basket sizes, it also helps you determine quickly how to get your product to shoppers the fastest. 

The bottom line is that even if your retail operations are not ready for change, your customer is. So the time to start truly focusing on your omnichannel strategy is today.

 

[i] http://www.fierceretail.com/story/80-retailers-not-ready-omnichannel-supply-chain/2015-09-16

[ii] http://blogs.forrester.com/peter_sheldon/14-07-29-announcing_the_forrester_wave_omnichannel_order_management_q3_2014

Topics: Retail, North America