With customer and delivery demands growing every day, retailers are feeling pressure to fulfill and ship orders faster than ever. But doing this efficiently and managing orders and inventory across multiple channels can be difficult. To discuss how retailers can use technology to meet customers’ delivery demands, Internet Retailer spoke with Matt Snyder, vice president of operations at Radial, a global omnichannel technology and operations provider.
IR: What challenges do companies face in building an omnichannel supply chain?
MS: We see retailers and brands looking to leverage a single inventory to support their B2B and direct-to-consumer channels. And as their ecommerce demand grows, they need to have a bigger footprint of inventory available for their ecommerce channel.
But they don’t want to raise their overall inventory spend. Instead, they want to leverage their total inventory spend and balance that inventory across their multiple channels to ensure they can handle store replenishment, wholesale channels and ecommerce together.
IR: What common mistakes do retailers make with their fulfillment and delivery strategies?
MS: Retailers struggle with how to best position their inventory throughout their network of distribution centers, fulfillment centers and stores. With more consumers wanting to be able to request and receive their products where and when they want, retailers face inventory planning challenges. They need to plan ahead where inventory needs to be so that when consumers order that inventory, it is positioned in the optimal place. When the inventory is not properly placed, order fulfillment costs increase with split shipments and expedited transportation.
IR: How can they avoid these mistakes?
MS: First, they need to develop a network strategy to leverage all available inventory across their multiple channels. Orders can be fulfilled from distribution centers, shipped from stores or drop-shipped from vendors.
Next, they need technology that enables them to optimize inventory planning and placement, as well as to execute intelligent order management to connect inventory placement to meet customer demand. Inventory optimization tools use analytics to predict where that demand will be based on historical data. They consider factors like regionalization that allow retailers to forecast whether certain product lines and categories will sell better in certain regions.
It’s also critical to have an order management system (OMS) that has full visibility into cross-chain inventory and the intelligence to determine the most efficient fulfillment option.
IR: How can technology help retailers address these challenges?
MS: There are several omnichannel tools and technologies that can help retailers address these challenges. Radial’s order management system, for example, provides both the inventory optimization to plan and place inventory throughout the network and intelligent order routing capabilities to most efficiently and effectively fulfill orders. Omnichannel technologies need to integrate with the warehouse systems, customer service tools and store fulfillment technologies to really provide a seamless consumer experience.Favorite