Challenges for Omni Channel in Distribution

Omni Chanel offers new order delivery and fulfilment options to provide customers with a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience. Options such as deliver to home and return-to-store; order online and pickup in-store; and even providing anytime, anywhere access to inventory availability all are on the increase.

Today’s customers desire the option to start their shopping process in one channel and finish, fulfil or even return through another. To succeed in an Omni channel world, retailers need to meet and exceed customer expectations by supporting them regardless of the channel. Aligning inventory management, order delivery and fulfilment with customer demands requires agility and flexibility across the entire supply chain.  This means order processing, fulfilment, pickup and even returns must be seamless.

According to Brandi Slaughter (Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at Demandware) there are three key changes that can give retailers the ability to gain greater visibility into inventory and remove the traditional approach of identifying products as part of online & in-store inventory.

1. Cleaner inventory data set to gain actionable insights into customer preferences;
2. Create packing and shipping “muscle” to enhance the delivery process and timeline; and
3. Adopt measurement tools to recognise the effectiveness of efforts made.

Refining supply chain operations to keep pace with customer demands and Omni channel trends requires constant work and refinement.

There are still some challenges that retail businesses face with Omni Channel logistics, see below.

  •  Inventory Visibility
The status of inventory is crucial to Omni channel logistics. Promising next-day delivery to customers and being able to follow through is definitely a challenge for a retailer, especially during the holiday season. Using a good WMS system can help to address the problems to develop an efficient order fulfilment process.

  •  Supply Chain Processes
Supply chain segmentation means that normally large retailers have many distribution centres, often managed by different in-house and outsourced operators, running on different systems. Standardise the processes is key to solving this issue instead of letting them function in silos.

  •  Sustainability
Delays in shipping can prevent a customer from wanting to do business with that retail company ever again. A good way to ensure a streamlined order fulfilment process is to employ the proper technology to help forecast future delays in service or shipping.

  •  Return Goods
If a customer feels they can’t return a product they purchased online by simply visiting the closest retail store or by returning the parcel via post, then the chances of that customer coming back for more are slim to none. Implementing sound reverse logistics infrastructure is imperative to good customer service within Omni channel logistics.