Address omni-channel retailing complexities now instead of later
Brick-and-mortar retailing is still a cornerstone of operations for many companies. Merchants devote a tremendous amount of their resources to maintaining the physical components of their businesses. Additionally, one study conducted by A.T. Kearney found consumers still spend 61 percent of their time shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
However, there is no denying the fact that consumers are increasingly shifting toward omni-channel shopping. While physical stores remain important, it's crucial that retailers look to integrate and implement broader omni-channel changes. Online and mobile will account for more shopping activity in the future, and if merchants haven't invested in those parts of their businesses, they will struggle to adapt to the challenge.
Business publication DC Velocity recently noted how, as more retailers begin selling more products online and through other channels, their margins may decline due to the competitive nature of Web-based retail.
However, they don't have many options in that regard – if merchants don't shift focus to digital channels, they run the risk of losing out on sales.
As such, supply chain operations and order management will be paramount as retailers adjust to omni-channel operations. Now is the perfect time for retailers to observe supply chain efficiency and try to determine how they can make steps to further streamline that aspect of their businesses. The news source asserted that many retail executives dread this prospect because they often aren't familiar with the intimate details of supply chain workings.
"However, [retail executives] do get margin erosion and especially that the inevitable shift to more online sales that they are pushing will drive lower margins," DC Velocity explained. "Here's the chance to tie the supply chain cause to one of the most important macro level issues facing retailers."
Driving supply chain efficiency without hindering service
Tying together the issues of supply chain management with dwindling profit margins may be an effective way to illustrate the importance of addressing the matter, but it's important that such efforts aren't taken simply to reduce costs.
Supply chains play an important role in successful omni-channel operations. Choosing the right suppliers and improving order management enable merchants to offer better service overall.
That means getting products to consumers more quickly, but can also help merchants provide other service options, such as in-store pickup and ship-from-store offerings.
In retail, the customer has traditionally been the top priority. The whole point of embracing omni-channel retailing is to provide customers with an extra level of service – they can purchase items whichever way is most convenient for them. For some, this means buying an item an online and picking it up in the store on the way home from work. For others, that could mean buying an item in-store and having it sent to a family member at another location. Of course, the purchase could be made completely online or offline as well.
By having a fluid approach to inventory management, retailers can get products to consumers quickly and effectively. Supply chains are an important part of successful inventory management, as they enable retailers to own the movement of products, regardless of how they are purchased and acquired.
If retailers are having trouble maintaining an expansive inventory across multiple channels, it's best to utilize eCommerce software that consolidates data from all the various retail channels and marketplaces. This will help merchants achieve the transparency needed to respond in real-time to inventory issues and new purchases.