Always Plan by Channel
The chart below isn’t meant to imply that each channel should operate within its own silo. Following best practices in a multichannel environment requires communication and collaboration between channel teams. Doing so allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of all channels as they pertain to all aspects of your business. Make your decisions accordingly.
For example, an item may perform well on the Internet, but the catalog may be driving those sales. Likewise, an item that’s not doing well online may move better at a specific retail location.
Implementing best practices will ensure you not only have the proper planning in place, but also the ability to make changes that make sense according to the actual market conditions and customer demands.
Quarterly reviews of company and channel goals and planning, for instance, will allow comparisons with actual performance so the necessary adjustments can be made. This information is also invaluable to the next year’s forecasts and planning.
Inventory Level Advantages
For most merchandisers, the advantages of the multichannel model come together at the inventory level. All channels pull from the same inventory, which results in obvious efficiencies and cost savings by eliminating duplication in human and operational resources.
The greatest cost savings come from the ability to consolidate purchasing and shipping. The result of your planning efforts for each channel will tell you what you need to purchase to meet the forecasted demands across all channels. You’ll then be able to combine purchases to take advantage of special vendor offers, meet minimum order requirements and achieve maximum economies of scale in purchasing and handling.
By implementing best practices in the multichannel environment, merchandisers gain the ability to build brand consistency across all channels, coordinate marketing strategies and create cross-channel impacts. All this contributes to the customer experience, increasing the likelihood they’ll buy, the amount they’ll spend and the frequency with which they’ll shop with you.