In 2013, the National Retail Foundation (NRF) reported more than 1 in 5 holiday shoppers started shopping before October. Last year’s Cyber Monday was the heaviest online spending day, reaching $1.735 billion. It’s no surprise that the omni-channel supply chain is being heralded as the next big thing in retail. Supply chain consulting and IT services firm enVista developed a white paper titled “Are You Ready for the Omni-Channel Holidays? A Supply Chain Primer in 7 Steps.” In the white paper, the company states that “in order to prepare yourself for the holidays, you must evolve beyond multi-channel to embrace omni-channel commerce. There is a big difference between the two, and retailers must get ready early and often for the expected surge in omni-channel shopping for the holiday season.”
The white paper goes into details on how to effectively and efficiently deploy an omni-channel strategy and gives seven supply chain steps to take your business from mini-channel to omni-channel fulfillment. We highlighted the seven key elements taken from these steps, to help ensure success through the holidays. These include:
- Omni-channel raises new questions about retail strategies and the design of your distribution network. “Should online fulfillment be separate from store fulfillment?” Will you offer “buy online- pick-up from store or same-day delivery?” The answers to these questions will impact the design of your supply chain network and now is the time to reconsider your network design to see if it fits your fulfillment strategies.
- Changes in network design leads to changes in facilities. These changes can require new designs for picking, packing and shipping. You may want to consider productivity solutions to help with the new deigns.
- After your network is in place, the next question is whether you have the right software systems. This includes an update to e-commerce systems, mobile device platform and making sure the system supports same-day delivery.
- In today’s omni-channel retail environment, retailers must have the right number of associates with the right skills staffing your stores in order to provide enhanced shopping experiences. This requires the right labor management software and services that will fulfill in-store and online orders.
- Getting help with transportation strategy, carrier selection and rate negotiations can provide significant cost reduction.
- Social networks as well as Millennials — the new largest customer base — have the largest impact on demand. Shaping and forecasting store demand has become a complex process and retailers need a more advanced demand sensing and forecasting system to evaluate omni-channel demand.
- Return rates are much higher for online and mobile purchases than for brick-and-mortar stores. As online shipping increases, retailers must make sure they are set up to handle an increase in volume of packing and shipping and returns.
Retailers must prepare for the holiday shopping season well in advance and for the expected surge in omni-channel shopping. There are great opportunities and risks during the holidays and the retailers who have planned properly and secured quality staffing and support services will reap those opportunities while minimizing the risk.