Omnichannel Supply Chain: As Retailers Open Up Stores, Supply Chain Leaders Prep to Fulfill Demand

Omnichannel supply chains have become increasingly more common in the modern transportation network. As a result, a great deal of confusion has arisen about what omnichannel chains are and what they are not. Much like multichannel supply chains, an omnichannel approach functions to meet customer needs in various channels of shopping and shipping. It enables the expansion of service levels to meet customer expectations while maintaining an eye on keeping overhead costs in check. The critical difference retailers need to embrace is that omnichannel solutions offer convenient one-touch integration of service options to provide a more streamlined customer experience. As retailers begin to reopen and welcome customers back into their stores, the need for an omnichannel supply chain approach is critical to integrating e-commerce into the reopening plans. And it's important to recognize why.

Retailers Need to Reopen While Staying Cautious Despite the Vaccine Rollout

Even as life begins to return to some semblance of normalcy, retailers need to remain cautious and aware of safety concerns for employees and consumers. Even as vaccinations continue and regulations lessen, many practices implemented during the pandemic are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Within today's omnichannel supply chain network, the need for contactless pick-up and convenient delivery options will continue to be in high demand. However, those options may not necessarily make business sense depending on location and footprint. For instance, a heavy traffic facility may simply lack the physical space to fulfill e-commerce orders, store them until pickup, and wait on drivers. Likewise, opportunities for buying online and picking up in-store (BOPIS) will need maintenance along with traditional brick-and-mortar store offerings to meet customer expectations. In this state of flux and change, an omnichannel supply chain setup will prove to be instrumental in future growth and recovery for shippers and carriers. And it's that need to figure out which stores can handle expansion through advanced business modeling where some supply chains can quickly get overwhelmed.

Why the Omnichannel Supply Chain Enables Better, Easier Reopening

After more than a year of shutdowns and drastic restrictions on business operations, reopening will present a challenge for business owners across the board. Implementing new methods for shipping, inventory management, ordering, and customer service will prove critical for the next year or two, possibly longer. An omnichannel supply chain approach will help keep customer service and satisfaction front and center while also ensuring employees and guests alike remain safe during their shopping experience. Omnichannel shipping options also make it easier for market leaders to integrate vital processes that have become the new norm with more traditional and familiar past options. Meanwhile, entirely new facilities may be built for the exclusive use of e-commerce order fulfillment that are located ideally to keep costs under control, reduce transit time and effectively build the seamless experience that customers want.

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Additional Ways Supply Chain Leaders Are Preparing for Continued Reopening

Reopening of the market has its advantages and disadvantages. As noted by Supply Chain Brain, retailers must remain focused on balancing inventory management with customer shopping trends and continuing to provide multiple options for both shopping and shipping. Letting customers choose when and where to shop and how to get their orders will help maximize profits and growth during this time of recovery and rebalancing. There are many ways retailers can embrace the power of the omnichannel supply chain to maximize their profit margins with enhanced parcel carrier services, effectively increasing the customer experience, speeding delivery timelines, and lowering total shipping costs. Additional ways to enable this growth and expansion include:

  • Getting access to the data to determine which stores can adopt omnichannel fulfillment based on current inventory, replenishment strategy, and technologies.
  • Business modeling to identify which stores will work best for omnichannel fulfillment and which are better suited to retain traditional retail.
  • Justifying the products offered online and in stores to reduce pressure on capacity procurement and management.
  • Demand forecasting to ensure highs and lows are accurate.
  • Enhanced delivery services that include contactless, last-mile delivery to consumers' homes or businesses.
  • Labor scheduling and load balancing automation to ensure adequate capacity coverage.
  • Returns management to address issues and concerns with as few disruptions as possible.
  • Real-time tracking and data management for improved visibility from end to end.
  • Embracing automation and innovation to boost productivity and profits across the board.

These are just a few ways the omnichannel supply chain revolution can positively impact the supply chain network today.

Start Tracking the Data to Maximize Efficiency in Your Omnichannel Supply Chain

At the heart of the omnichannel approach is the idea of data capture and application. Maximizing efficiency and profits, especially during these uncertain times, relies heavily on having access to accurate and reliable data. Supply chain development, accountability in transportation, and data integration must be part of the retailer's reopening planning process. Connect with Intelligent Audit to get started today.

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