The success of any omnichannel strategy relies heavily on effective supply chain management. For retailers, inventory management has never been more critical, to avoid for example one channel promoting an item, only to have it be out of stock at a different channel.
Here are three best practices to ensure the supply chain management operates efficiently:
- Segment the supply chain while unifying the whole. When it comes to supply chain management for in-store and online shopping, you might need to separate the supply chain process for the actual movement and tracking of product. However, both of these systems should be in sync so you can manage information and products as a whole. So recognize the uniqueness of each channel, but ensure unified information. Additional tactics include varying “click and collect” options, adjusting packaging to fit different channels, and changing to a more automated order picking and tracking framework.
- Open up inventory to all customers. Sears responded to lost appliance sales and pressure from The Home Depot and Lowe’s by offering inventory for one-day delivery to come from any nearby store. It recognized that delivery is the final piece of the puzzle that mobile customers want to see completed quickly, so it overhauled its inventory and logistics system to allow the back-end system to pull inventory dynamically from other stores.
- Decentralize inventory. The Home Depot is a case study in reaching omnichannel sales success. The company started its transformation in 2007 by decentralizing the inventory process. Previously, each store ordered and managed its own product inventory, a time-consuming and inefficient procedure. The company centralized inventory management, creating regional centers that accepted and distributed product. Now, the company offers consumers choices regarding how they would like to receive online orders, whether it’s in the store, delivered to home, or delivered to the store for later pickup. A standout option is also the “buy online – return to store” which is incredibly convenient for consumers. These options are only available because the supply chain management functions as a single entity, with products moved and recorded at all times.