5 Steps Toward Omnichannel Success
"Omnichannel" is one of the hottest buzzwords in the retail industry. Yet while everyone is talking omnichannel, relatively few brands understand what it means, and even fewer have the back-end logistic and fulfillment capabilities to achieve true omnichannel success.
At Dotcom Distribution, we believe omnichannel is about more than simply offering multiple channels for consumers to buy from you. It means that consumers have the opportunity to seamlessly shop, purchase, fulfill and return from every possible channel and location. The problem is that most of the marketplace is currently siloed, with very little crossover between channels or touchpoints — e.g., separate point-of-sale systems, mobile systems, e-commerce systems, etc., that simply don't integrate with each other.
To keep pace with the competition, B-to-C and B-to-B brands need to evaluate their capabilities and develop a plan that gets them on track to deliver more authentic omnichannel experiences.
Improving Omnichannel Fulfillment Capabilities
When consumers interact with your business, they don't see multiple channels and product lines, they see one brand and a single customer experience. Regardless of whether they make a purchase from a kiosk, brick-and-mortar store or online, customers expect your company's order management function to enable seamless shipping, delivery and return experiences.
From a back-end logistics perspective, the transition to an omnichannel approach needs to re-engineer the way your organization manages inventories and fulfills orders. Here are five tips to help you in this process:
- Look for inventory sharing opportunities. Omnichannel is about optimizing inventory and shipping processes to get products to customers as quickly as possible. Start by taking a look at possible synergies across product types, as well as identifying opportunities to pull inventories together across retail, e-commerce, wholesale and other channels.
- Identify the best operating model. After you've identified synergistic opportunities across channels, develop an operating model that's capable of exploiting the similarities in order profiles. This operating model will define order routing, order fulfillment locations and other key elements of the omnichannel fulfillment process.
- Choose technology to automate the process flow. Many brands make the mistake of choosing technology first and then implementing processes that are forced on them by the technology. Technology needs to conform to your operating model and processes, and function across your organization's order management and ERP systems.
- Optimize flow paths. Big data gives your organization the ability to understand your customers and market to them most effectively. By combining insights from multiple databases for different types of customers into a single view of the customer, you gain visibility to the information you need to optimize flow paths and serve customers better.
- Implement function-specific technologies. To further optimize your omnichannel fulfillment capabilities, you'll need to identify and implement function-specific technologies for the pick, pack and ship process. The technologies you select should support your operating model and flow paths, automating various stages of the omnichannel journey and delivering meaningful service improvements to your customers.
Token omnichannel experiences won't cut it with today's shoppers. Across all industries and market sectors, a small percentage of brands are creating truly omnichannel experiences, paving the way and creating expectations that consumers can now connect with your brand through the channels of their own choosing.
First-rate fulfillment improves a brand's interactions with customers and maintains the quality of the customer experience throughout the entire buying process. On a fundamental level, omnichannel fulfillment satisfies the customer's need for more options and the growing expectation that they'll be able to interact in multiple ways with a single brand.