Easier said than done!
Fulfillment partners, also known as retailers, are the last stop on the supply chain before the product ends up in the hands of consumers. In other words, the retail network is how manufacturers get their products in front of consumers. However, the ability to purchase online has changed how channels interact in the chain and who has access to the consumer, causing challenges or “conflicts” within those channels.
There are many different causes for channel conflict but specifically, in the case of retail, there are three different categories:
- Horizontal Channel Conflict- Dispute between two retailers at the same level of the distribution channel. For example, two brick-and-mortar retailers.
- Vertical Channel Conflicts- Dispute within individual levels of the distribution channel. For example, a retailer and a distributor.
- Multiple Channel Conflict- Disputes caused by multiple sales channels crossing both vertically and horizontally. For example, brands could directly access consumers without their retailers and retailers could also compete for the same consumers regardless of geographic region.
“The Future of retail is the integration of internet and digital services with the retail network”
- Charles Dunstone (CVO of mobile phone retailer Car Phone Warehouse)
Every 50 years or so, the retail world undergoes some kind of disruption, and each progression does not eliminate what came before it but redefines consumer expectations. As it progresses, retail is morphing into something so different that it requires a new name: omnichannel. As the name implies, brands and retailers will be able to interact with customers through different channels- physical stores, websites, social media, mobile devices and much more. As amazing as it sounds, an omnichannel world represents a major crisis for traditional retailers.
However, the question remains: how to deploy an effective omnichannel model? For the brick-and-mortar retailers making the move into the omnichannel eCommerce market, it can seem like a cipher wrapped inside an enigma smothered in secret sauce...it’s strenuous! The challenge for supply chains is not just for retailers but for brand manufacturers as well:
- Consumer Data- Different touch points means an armory of customer data, gathered through social media, mobile or brick-and-mortar stores. However, these large amounts of data must be properly tracked, analyzed and applied. This requires seamless collaboration between multiple departments and information silos, which can seem like a daunting task.
- Omnichannel Logistics- No matter how big or small you are, whether a 100% eCommerce, brick-and-mortar, domestic or international, logistics was and will be a challenge. Here are a few examples:
- Lack of inventory visibility
- Segmented supply chain processes
- Speedy of delivery
- Ease of returns
Warehouse Management - Keeping inventory in synchronization across locations is one the critical elements of warehouse management. Trying to fulfill orders from different channels and different locations requires visibility and flexibility. Retailers are still trying to determine their optimal product mix and how work flows should behave.
- Unsustainable Cost - Re-engineering your business to align with the changing technology or trend requires investment. The challenge arises when trying to deliver seamless and consistent experience across channels at the lowest cost possible.
Beyond those general areas, the biggest challenge is the gap between growing customer expectations and brands scrambling to meet those expectations. This isn’t just a challenge; it’s an opportunity to create an amazing buying experience while leveraging your existing retail channel.
As a brand, there are many individual solutions for eCommerce needs. You can find a PIM (Product Information Management), an online shopping cart, a channel management solution, and an order management solution to manage the needs of your online presence. The tricky part then becomes how you tie those together so they create that omnichannel environment.
Or, instead of looking for individual solutions to meet your brand needs, a solution like Quivers provides brands with full eCommerce solution including retailer support, enabling new marketplace opportunities and omnichannel experiences. The platform is easy to use and provides connections to your retail network, while giving brands the ability to sell globally online, positioning unique shopping environments to various audiences and orchestrating fulfillment through multiple channels. It’s omnichannel simplified.