Creating a Fully Integrated Omni-Channel Supply Chain

March 8, 2016 Daniel Ford

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One of the most significant and exciting changes to occur in retail in the past decade has been the introduction and adoption of omni-channel retailing. At the heart of omni-channel retailing is the seamless shopping experience it provides for the consumer through all available shopping channels.

Although most retailers and suppliers have  implemented systems to accommodate the omni-channel shopping experience, they still face many major challenges in realizing a fully integrated omni-channel supply chain. In the omni-channel world, retailers depend upon drop shipping and product replenishment initiatives to drive their supply chains. This demands that suppliers drastically change how they fulfill orders.

In the past, order fulfillment was more predictable: suppliers would typically ship large quantities of product to a distribution center. In the omni-channel world, suppliers must also fulfill single-item orders from retailers’ ecommerce websites.

Although most retailers and suppliers have implemented systems to accommodate the omni-channel shopping experience, they still face many major challenges in realizing a fully integrated omni-channel supply chain.

The complexity of fulfilling high volumes of single-item orders to Omni-channel_quote.jpgmultiple locations—compared to shipping large cartons to a handful of distribution centers—can be unpredictable and overwhelming to the supplier’s operations if they do not have the adequate technology and processes in place.

For retailers, creating a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels can be a substantial challenge in realizing a fully optimized omni-channel supply chain. Shoppers expect to have easy access to up-to-date item availability via the Internet, with the option of buying online and picking up items at a selected store.

This means that retailers need an accurate, real-time view of inventory across all of their stores, ecommerce web sites and warehouses, which requires a sophisticated level of item and inventory synchronization.

Steps to Optimizing Your Omni-Channel Supply Chain

Retailers:

  1. Make investments in technology to unify disparate systems. Integrating all of your internal systems enables full visibility into orders, shipments, and inventory status across your supply chain. The integration of your internal systems also streamlines the onboarding process for your suppliers to deliver a true omni-channel shopping experience to your customers.

  2. Digitize your supply chain and the processes that support it. Only after you have digitized your supply chain data can you truly customize the shopping experience for your customers,  allowing them access to in-store or website item availability and detailed product information.

  3. Automate your supplier compliance programs to provide real-time insight into critical transactions for both you and your supplier base. With real-time visibility into transactions, you can identify and proactively quarantine instances of non-compliant data, thereby keeping your supply chain running efficiently and providing your customers with a true omni-channel shopping experience.

Suppliers:

  1. Invest in developing agile fulfillment systems and processes that allow you to accommodate new customer order models. Your customers depend upon you to adapt to their new fulfillment strategies, which demands that you be capable of shipping direct to store, direct to distribution center, and direct to consumer with speed and accuracy. With the necessary technology and processes in place to support omni-channel product fulfillment, you can effectively meet your customers’ fulfillment demands and take on a key role in helping to optimize their omni-channel supply chain.

  2. Automate inventory, fulfillment and shipping processes by integrating supply chain data with your ERP and WMS systems. The process automation provided through integrating supply chain data with internal systems eliminates manual rekeying of data, producing complete process accuracy. Moreover, process automation can provide you with the capabilities to proactively monitor and quarantine non-compliant transactions, enabling you to meet the compliance demands of your customers.

B2B Integration Managed Services Provides the Tools for a Fully Integrated Omni-Channel Supply Chain

In the same way that an omni-channel supply chain delivers a seamless shopping experience for consumers, a managed services solution provides a simplified experience for retail organizations to integrate your systems and processes with your supply chain.

The result is reduced costs, simplified processes, improved vendor performance, and the infrastructure necessary to provide a better customer experience.

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