RIS News recently wrote an insightful article titled, “The New Customer Paradigm: Omnichannel On-Demand,” that discusses omnichannel retailing as it pertains to fulfillment and the supply chain. The article’s author, Mark Wheeler, director of supply chain solutions at Motorola Solutions, makes a convincing argument that fulfillment is the most important part of the omnichannel shopping experience. While Mark makes some excellent points and we agree that fulfilling rapidly evolving customer expectations lies at the heart of omnichannel, we don’t believe there is any one “most import part” of omnichannel. Rather, it’s when all channels work together synergistically that differentiates winning retailers from the losers. We fully support the idea that retailers need to increase their focus on the supply chain in order to have any shot at omnichannel success. There are a number of new innovations in this space to assist with inventory management and fulfillment and, while they may not be as sexy as technology like mobile apps, in-store analytics, or social media tools (all of which we think are really cool, by the way), they are essential to keeping customers happy. Whether you’re reevaluating your legacy systems or starting from scratch, when looking for a technology partner here are a few important things to keep in mind about fulfillment in an omnichannel world:
  • • Look for a partner that understands you entire business and customer lifecycle. Fulfillment should not exist as a separate arm of your business, but work with all other channels in a streamlined way.
  • • Make sure you have visibility into what’s happening with your inventory when it happens, and how it all impacts your bottom line. In an omnichannel world, where purchases happen simultaneously via mobile, online and in-store, this is crucial. In that same regard, be sure your provider can deliver that information in a customizable way that works for your team, otherwise you’ll find the information is useless.
  • • Choose a partner that can be flexible with all the other technology that you will be integrating with to achieve a seamless omnichannel experience (e.g. your ecommerce platform, in-store POS, etc.)
  • • Lastly, choose a partner that can provide consultation when the newest trend in consumer technology arises. While mobile is everything for retailers today, there could be a new personal technology on the horizon that we don’t even know about that will affect retail sales. Choose a technology provider that can guide you through whatever comes.
It’s an exciting time to be in retail and, with more technology available than ever before, it is truly possible to deliver a shopping experience that is consistent across every customer touchpoint. As Mark pointed out, “Retail today is about an end-to-end customer experience that could begin anywhere – in-store, smartphone or online.” At Newgistics, we cover all of these touch points for our clients because we know that all are crucial to the customer experience.