In an increasingly omnichannel world, customers have a wide variety of channels to choose from when making purchases. Thanks to Amazon and other ecommerce innovators, those same customers also expect to receive their purchases almost instantaneously, regardless of what channel they are accessing. To illustrate this change in demand, a recent report by Technavio estimates that the market for same-day delivery in the US will hit $987 million by 2019. Today's customers are also increasingly opting for the buy online and pick up in-store option, with 82 percent of respondents of a recent Temando survey stating so.
Needless to say, ensuring that you actually have the inventory available to be shipped to or picked up by customers in the time they expect is a significant but critical challenge to overcome. Not only do you need to have the right technologies in place to achieve real-time inventory visibility across all channels, but you must also implement the right business processes to increase the overall ROI of your omnichannel optimization investments.
Improving the Supply Chain through Technology Integration
In today's cloudy and hyper-connected world, the first step any business needs to take is essentially breaking down the walls between the silos of yesteryear. In other words, centralize all of your data in a single repository by integrating critical back-end systems. In retail, achieving real-time inventory visibility and optimizing omnichannel fulfillment involves integrating many systems. This includes integrating: online ordering, warehouse, transportation and distributed order management systems with inventory management systems across all fulfillment sources including: web fulfillment centers, brick-and-mortar stores, warehouses and third-party logistics, and product suppliers.
Aligning Business Processes with Technology Investments
While implementing and integrating complex technologies to optimize the supply chain introduces significant challenges to your IT organization, aligning the IT strategy with your business processes is a whole other beast. Your software providers may understand the technology and how it works, but more often than not they don't have a clear understanding of your specific business requirements and end-to-end processes. To help guide you through the change management cycle and effectively adapt your business processes to the new digital environment, it's often best to partner with a consulting firm that has expertise in retail technologies, omnichannel optimization, and the industry as a whole, ultimately helping you align your business with IT.
Just like breaking down the silos between interdependent technologies, to survive in the increasingly competitive retail industry you must do the same with the business processes supported by those technologies. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself investing too much money and time on technology without any tangible results for your business's bottom line.
In the end, and regardless of what industry you are in, you should be asking yourself several questions before embarking on a widespread digital transformation. First, do you have the right resources on your team to lead the transformation successfully? If you have a limited IT budget, how can you cut costs, streamline IT operations and free up money to invest in these initiatives? Do you have access to the right software providers or consulting firms to help you achieve your goals?