Sneak Peak: Driving Omni-Channel Efficiencies

omniCSCMP is only a week away. Clint Reiser and I will be presenting our findings from an omni-channel fulfillment survey we conducted in partnership with James Cooke and DC Velocity. Omni-channel is all about the convergence of channels to provide a unified brand experience for the customer. Each channel has its own experiences, advantages, and challenges. The key is to connect the business processes and technology to create a holistic experience.

One of the main issues with the omni-channel customer experience is where to start. An omni-channel strategy is not easily laid out. It involves elements of supply chain, marketing, sales, communications, operations, and a variety of other things. At our session, Clint and I will touch upon these challenges and take a look at the supply chain and fulfillment aspect of the customer experience. Here is a sneak peak of some of our findings:

  • Sharing inventory across channels is not as commonplace as you might think. Just over 50% of respondents are sharing inventory across channels. I find this surprising as inventory availability is at the heart of the customer experience. If your customer cannot get the product they want through their desired channel, they will find it somewhere else. Sharing inventory across channels alleviates some of the concerns about lots sales. However, it does require accurate inventory counts at all locations, and the ability to centrally manage the flow of inventory.
  • Of those respondents that do share inventory across channels, 62% share across all channels and an additional 34% share between brick and mortar locations and online. There is not a big push to share call center and catalog inventory with brick and mortar or the online channel. This is not too surprising as these channels are only generating about 10% of total revenues from our respondent base, and that number will only decline over the next five years.
  • About 80% of respondents indicated that their e-commerce fulfillment is at the same facility as their traditional fulfillment. Combining these into one physical location requires the establishment of channel-specific processes. Nearly 60% of respondents segregate e-commerce fulfillment from traditional fulfillment. The most common way is to segregate the facilities by physical layout. This method allows for specific areas to pick orders for store fulfillment, direct-to-consumer fulfillment, and distribution center transfers. Not as popular is to segregate by labor management and inventory availability.

That’s all for today’s sneak peak. If you are in San Antonio for CSCMP next week, we will be presenting our results on Monday morning in the Omni-Channel track. If not, please keep an eye out for the summary article in DC Velocity this November.

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