Omni-channel sales strategies have become essential to companies trying to keep up with Amazon and major retailers. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding in omnichannel supply chains has also led many companies to experience extreme issues in delivering on their promises. In addition, some may feel that growing into a seamless omnichannel sales strategy is impossible without supply chain technology hiccups, but that is not true. Meanwhile, more companies are turning to entities outside of the company, like third-party logistics or integrators (3PLs and 3PIs) to manage omnichannel supply chains, reports Maarten Baltussen of Supply Chain Digital. In fact, third-party companies already have the first step in the bag, and you need to understand why.
Identify Market Trends
Omni-channel supply chains are built on having multiple touchpoints per order, ranging from online to brick-and-mortar sales. This naturally creates a large pool of data, and 3PIs have the technology to leverage this data to build and improve omnichannel supply chains. Moreover, third parties can define market trends with greater precision and accuracy than companies that are just starting down the path toward omnichannel sales. Essentially, this lends itself to intelligent fulfillment.
Eliminate Organizational Silos
Intelligent fulfillment means every order and sale should operate like an algorithm or flowchart, explains Salin Shaikh of Multichannel Merchant. If the customer uses online and in-store shopping to make a purchase, shipping and pickup options should include A, B and C. If only online shopping is used, shipping options may include B or D. Now, intelligent fulfillment relies on the collaboration between all departments to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience to the customer. As a result, companies should eliminate organizational and technological silos within the company.
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Leverage Inventory as Data
When systems communicate, they create inventory data, but actual inventory can be turned into data points and metrics to understand the flow of products. This can include utilizing additive manufacturing, like 3D printing, to bring the manufacturing process closer to customers and reduce the amount of physical space needed to store inventory. This data can be further refined to increase cross-training programs among employees, asserts Supply & Demand Chain Executive, or it may be used to improve real-time inventory visibility across all segments of the omnichannel supply chain.
Improve Inventory Management Through Analytics and Integration
Inventory management is only as good as its level of visibility and optimization. Poor slotting programs or disparate systems can still contribute data to the system. Unfortunately, this data may lead to continued inaccuracies and issues within supply chain technology. Therefore, companies should leverage data gathered through the previous steps through analytics systems and integration between systems.
This information should be clean as well. In other words, systems need to distinguish the “good” data from “bad” data. For this reason, many companies are outsourcing integration and analytics to ensure they have the right metrics and data tools to continuously improve omnichannel supply chain technologies.
The Big Picture for a Seamless OmniChannel Supply Chain
Omni-channel supply chain technology can expose problems in new or upcoming companies entering the omnichannel space. However, companies that follow these steps to bring systems together and leverage the technology and expertise of proven companies, like Veridian Solutions, can successfully move their supply chains into the next wave of omnichannel sales. Ultimately, the omnichannel supply chain is like a living, breathing thing, and it needs to be cared for properly.