In today’s digital world, retail supply chains are no longer linear. Modern consumers now expect lightning-quick service and a personalized experience from retailers, as well as transaction visibility and near-immediate delivery. These multi-channel shoppers are digitally connected more than ever, and their journey cuts across different channels including the physical store, online, mobile, and social media.1
A company’s supply chain is the backbone of its multi-channel strategy, enabling retailers to consistently and cost-effectively deliver personalized service and flexible fulfillment. By optimizing locations, sourcing, and fulfillment of products, successful multi-channel logistics ensure reduced costs, faster delivery, and a better customer experience.2 Below are a few things to consider to streamline your multi-channel supply chain network.
Allow for easy inventory transfer across channels
According to Gartner, 81 percent of retailers’ supply chains offers complete inventory visibility across all channels. However, only 16 percent have optimized transfer capabilities for fulfillment. In order to take advantage of a multi-channel network, it’s important to have a transfer process of goods from one channel to another in place so products can be easily shifted to fulfill demand across each channel. It’s also the quickest way to move unsold inventory, and increase customer satisfaction.3
Ensure customer support fits the multichannel approach
Customers now desire and have come to expect a range of communication options, spanning telephone, email, social media, and online chat during extended hours. Regardless of the channel, they should be able to reach out to customer representatives and purchase items in multiple places for a simpler, more user-friendly buying process for the consumer.
Offer product returns between each channel
Research by Gartner shows that less than one in five consumers would purchase an item online if they could not return in-store and had to pay for return delivery while 80% of consumers would be converted to buy if the policy allowed for both in-store returns and free return shipping.4 It’s important that retailers offer a relatively free flow of products throughout all channels – offering both in-store and online returns, regardless of the original purchase method. This streamlined approach goes a long way in offering convenience to customers, building loyalty.5
Implement cloud-based technology
With a multi-channel approach, it’s more important than ever to have real-time visibility into stores and warehouses to understand where items are at all times. Today, Internet of Things (IoT) plays a large role in asset tracking and warehouse management. An RFID-enabled inventory paired with a source tagging system is helpful for not only increasing awareness of the volume and location of items across each channel, but for data purposes related to demand forecasting.
These are just a few ways to streamline a multi-channel supply chain network. As the retail and e-commerce industries continue to evolve, third party logistic providers offer retailers the ability to further streamline their operations to meet customer expectations, generating higher satisfaction and loyalty.