5 Ways to Make Your Internal Operations Omnichannel
Would you like to guess the efficiency of an internal omnichannel product team that's using no less than 27 different touchpoints, including multiple spreadsheets, emails, data uploads, etc., for one product alone? Not pretty, right?
Yet in many organizations, spreadsheets, siloed in various teams and departments, still rule the day. If information is siloed, then people are effectively siloed as well, weakening the chance of collaboration and essentially wasting a good portion of the combined knowledge base of your organization. Inefficient product management also leads to slower time to market and lost sales, which retailers really want to avoid.
We're selling in an omnichannel environment in which consumers want the latest product now, and products that closely match their desires. They also expect any channel they choose to shop in to have up-to-the-minute, accurate product information. It's easy to see the disconnect here between what consumers expect and how many internal teams are handling day-to-day product management tasks.
How can you move your omnichannel product management team into the 21st century so it can be agile enough to respond to fast-changing consumer demands? Here are five tips on improving your internal operations:
1. Unsilo the internal data: Conduct, if you will, a document audit of your product management teams. Besides the aforementioned 27 spreadsheets, obtain a clear picture of how much redundancy and waste in document creation is occurring. Then meet with your team members to create a plan for data consolidation.
2. One world, one goal: Look outside your internal teams and examine how you're communicating with your global supply chain. Evaluate how much communication is flowing now between supply chain members as well as between the supply chain and your internal team. Find out where the bottlenecks are, where the production cycle is being slowed down by miscommunication or slow communication, and consult with key supply chain members on how they think communication can be improved.
3. Cloud collaboration: Whether you're manufacturing your own goods or sourcing them from vendors, globalization of your supply chain necessitates a means of communicating without the barriers of time zones. Establishing a collaborative platform in the cloud is the best means of bringing together your internal product management teams and your diverse supply chain members. Communication can occur 24/7 and answers can be obtained in a timely fashion that will enable you to move the production schedule forward.
4. At the core: Moving more documents to the cloud will give you a central place in which to share information and eliminate document redundancy. It will enable you to further ensure product information is up to date and accurate. Streamlining product management communication will also ideally speed time to market.
5. Hearing the customer: Once you've toned up your product management communication, you can free up time to focus more on your mobile app-wielding customers who want it yesterday. If your collaborative platform is in place, you should be sending accurate, timely information out to consumers that's consistent across all channels.
Scrutinizing how data flows in your product management organization and taking steps to improve communication will take some heavy lifting at first, but the payoff can be quite substantial. In an omnichannel environment, with consumers jumping from mobile to store showrooms and back again, having consistent, up-to-date product information is absolutely essential to a sale. There's little chance of consistency if information is scattered among spreadsheets, emails and voicemails.
Looking ahead, when your internal and external teams can communicate better, there's a greater chance of creativity — e.g., finding that next hot product your customers will want. It's time to rid yourself of communication gridlock and unleash the collective knowledge and power of your organization.
Abnesh Raina is the CEO and founder of PlumSlice, a provider of cloud-based services and software for omnichannel retailers.