Leading market research firm, Forrester, says that rising from $373 billion in 2016, US online retail sales will reach more than $500 billion by 2020. This growth is expected to be driven by better blocking and tackling by web merchants, along withgreater omnichannel efforts.
The Forrester report also revealed that in 2016, more than $1.5 trillion of the total US retail sales were web-impacted and omnichannel-based, which uses a variety of channels, such as include retail, online, mobile app andmobile stores, as well as telephone sales, and allows customers to research before a purchase, while offering reduced costs. Omnichannel is what enabled retail stores to compete with companies that operate solely on the Internet.
Given the ease of purchasing that shoppersare leveraging today, they have become increasingly demanding and expect the freedom to buy, pickup and return of goods from theretail channel they desire, whether it is online, via a smartphone or desktop, or from a brick-and-mortar store.
To be able to deliver on customer commitments, without losing even a single order, has shifted retailers’ focus to enhancing their supply chain by implementing an omnichannel supply chain strategy, which includes the unification of multiple channels,including the web, store, catalogue, concessions, franchises, mobile, etc.
How Omni Channel Supply Chains Work
The core of an omnichannel supply channel is a central stock pool, which fulfils orders from all retail channels. This central stock pool also controls retailing factors, such as sales, pricing, fulfilment, etc.
Omni Channel is amulti-channel supply chain that requires improved real-time visibility across all channels, along with a single view of the consumer, as they jump from one channel to another. It can even allow a customer to place an order online and pick the item up at a physical store.
While in a multiple channel approach, various channels exist side-by-side, without interacting or being integrated, and customers can make purchases on one channel at a time, with the sale of a product depending on the availability of the merchandise on a single channel. On the other hand, inthe omni-channel experience, many channels are integrated in the backend to make the shopping experience smoother and seamless for the customer, regardless of which channel they choose.
The availability of information about the buying process on all channels in real time allows the customer to buy across all channels, explained a report on The Impact of Omni-Channel Commerce on Supply Chains, published by Hybris.
The availability of e-commerce solutions and technologies, such as a single, comprehensive, user-customizablecourier tracking software and courier dispatch will further encourage consumers to take advantage of an omnichannel supply channel, without the need to stick to a single channel, according to the team at Key Software Systems.
How Businesses are Getting Ready for Omni Channel Supply Chains
Aiming at improved efficiency and user experience, companies are increasingly adopting anomni-channel strategy. They are staying in sync with market trends,while adapting and adjusting wherever required.
The strategy is well accomplished when it is successfully implementedon all possible aspects of the business, including store and warehouse,ship-from-store inventory process, and systems andplatforms that offerreal-time inventory visibility across channels.
For businesses to be able to track and assess capabilities and efficiency in terms of cost effectiveness of the omnichannel commerce strategy, they need to develop an array of metrics, such asnumber of full-time employees on a dedicated omnichannel team, cost to resolve a service-after-sales request, new customer acquisition and repeat purchase rate, according to researchpublished by The Hackett Group.
Lastly, businesses need to equip themselves with courier tracking software to be able to sell their productsacross channels, without any complexities and added costs,while providing additional perks like free or faster shipping of merchandise to the customer, along with a seamless shopping experience.