Omni-channel Opportunities and Challenges for E-commerce and Retail

E-commerce has changed the way consumers buy products and services. As a result,  retailers must adopt omni-channel practices to provide fast and responsive customer service and delivery that puts the customer at the center of the experience. Consumers can now order products from anywhere – but can retailers fulfill from anywhere?

The challenge many e-commerce retailers is the ability to achieve next day or 2-day shipping with their current labor and supply chain capabilities. Businesses seeking to adopt omni-channel strategies to adapt to the current and future e-commerce trends and consumer preferences need to streamline all components of their supply chain. The key is accurate inventory, real-time visibility, and housing products near to the retailers’ customer densities.

Many e-commerce retailers have found an opportunity for improvement by working with an experienced third party logistics partner that enables them to focus on what they do best – product development, marketing, and sales while their partner handles the details such as inventory, customer densities, fulfillment, and distribution activities. Outsourced logistics eliminates fixed costs and allows retailers to only pay for what they use. This is especially helpful for sales cycles that experience seasonality or day to day fluctuations.

Utilizing a cloud-based warehouse management system (WMS) offers real-time visibility of inbound orders, returns, receipts of replenishment shipments, cycle counts, full physical inventory recording, as well as stock allocation. Armed with the visibility and automation of a cloud-based warehouse management system, experienced third party logistics providers can implement the most effective method of fulfillment to meet and exceed the service level required to achieve next day or 2-day shipping that consumers have come to expect.

Many third party logistics providers whom utilize cloud-based warehouse management systems simply ‘twin’ messages once a retailer has received an order – meaning that the retailer’s partner also gets an email once an order is created. Each labor event such as an order receipt, order pick, and confirmation of order shipment can trigger an email message from the WMS directly to the customer using a company-approved alias. This email can include order confirmation, tracking information, and a personalized ‘thank you’ message – all to be customized based on the retailers’ preferences and standard operating procedures.

These solutions are not a one-size-fits-all type model. Omni-channel solutions require an analysis of the retailer’s supply chain including order frequency and size as well as the labor, materials, and space that is required to meet the demand. If you’re interested in a tailored omni-channel supply chain solution, please reach out to us.