Omni-channel has been a buzzword for some time, a buzzword and a head-splitting puzzle for retailers, that is. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. After the first years of experimentation through trial-and-error, the efforts of the companies in the digitalization of their supply chain are finally materializing into results and effective best practices. Recent reports from industry analysts have identified some of the benefits that brands are starting to reap from the integration of inventory management and CRM between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar locations. Here are some of the main takeaways from these reports and tests.
#1: From online trends to just in time production
The report "Specialty retail: fast fashion" published by US digital think tank L2 last week highlights how the most successful retailers in this highly competitive sector are calibrating their just-in-time production according to search trends, social media engagement patterns, and online/in-store purchase analytics. This strategy effectively cuts overstocking and reduces heavy discounting at a loss.
#2: Flexible fulfillment options
Currently, "See Now Buy now" is considered a crucial factor in the consumer's path to purchase and click-to-store is an important part of it. According to L2's survey, 27% of US retailers have adopted click-to-store in 2016, up 10% compared to the previous year. In the report "Connecting the Dots" published by Retail Dive, Rob Poratti, product marketing manager for IBM eCommerce and Fulfillment notes "Cross-channel visibility is key, because not only can shoppers see the merchandise available, but they can also receive merchandise quicker and in more convenient ways – benefits that can actually influence purchase decisions."
The network of retail locations and distribution centers delivers competitive advantage to brands, especially vis-à-vis Amazon's increasing dominance of online retail.
#3: Store inventory accuracy is no longer the missing piece of the puzzle
From the retailers' point of view, inventory accuracy is definitely an important key to unlock the omni-channel experience. Intel has partnered with Levi Strauss Co. to pilot their new Retail Sensor Platform at Levi's headquarters flagship store. The system is based on RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags that allow to track inventory, stocking, customer traffic and local demand, without infringing on customer's privacy. The data can be integrated with existing store systems and applications in order to provide to the company a comprehensive and informed view of its inventory and customer behavior analytics from online retail to brick-and-mortar locations.