We said at the beginning of this series that although the journey to omni-channel is unstoppable, the actual destination is not always clear. After all, there is no blueprint for success and the omni-channel destination itself may seem a long way away.
For most retailers, however, the journey is not just necessary, it is crucial for success going forward. Omni-channel allows the consumer to interact via any channel for each of the four key retail touchpoints —Select, Transact, Acquire, Return— irrespective of the channel they used for the previous step.
- The first milestone, plan for the peak, ensures you can keep customers at your online store and make certain they go through to purchase—even during periods of peak demand. Planning for the peak involves using in-memory data management technology to scale up your e-commerce platform for dealing with the largest demand peaks. This is a low-risk, cost effective way to prepare for peaks and reduce basket abandonment —one which reduces cart abandonment during normal trading times too.
- The second milestone, maximise resource return, ensures inventory visibility across the business and between channels. Optimizing inventory requires visibility into every product in every location at all times, along with the ability to adjust operations accordingly. While a new ERP or Merchandising system may well offer a fix, it can take years when retailers need to know now. Tackling the visibility challenge requires investment, but it can be attained quickly via real-time connectivity between different systems – yours and your trading partners. A real-time inventory data store using in-memory technology is required in order to incorporate the impact of sales, goods received and inventory movements—minute by minute. This in-memory element acts as the real-time inventory master for the entire omni-channel operation at all times.
- The third milestone is conduct your “orchestra.” Your supply chain network, store network and individual systems are a form of orchestra with which you can play an omni-channel “tune.” Failure to conduct this orchestra will result in margin erosion—online orders will require high levels of human interaction which can lead to errors, or orders will be delayed during periods of peak demand. The following elements are essential: clear process design so that omni-channel processes are codified in such a way that they can be applied systematically and adapted in the future; the ability to connect and interact the multitude of systems across your enterprise as well as the ones outside; the ability to execute the omni-channel processes automatically and control the interactions between different systems.
Once these three milestones are put into place, your journey to the omni-channel destination will become much clearer. Take a look at our microsite where you can learn more on Winning Retail in an Omni-Channel World.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.