Overcoming Omnichannel Demand Challenges

By Mark Troselj | 21 Feb 2014

Overcoming inventory challenges are integral to good retail practice, but there are some specific concerns for omnichannel adoption, which can really only be overcome by best practice omnichannel systems.

A retailer’s inventory is one of its top expenses and managing the right range of merchandise across multiple channels and locations is a delicate balancing act.

That balancing act only becomes more difficult when faced with today’s consumers, who shop across multiple channels and have little patience for retailers who cannot meet the challenges of managing inventory and delivering real-time visibility across those channels.

That’s why it is critical for retail businesses to become seamless organisations. But, delivering on the omnichannel experience requires a single, integrated platform that can provide global inventory visibility along with seamless order management and fulfillment processes. Nearly two decades after the emergence of e-commerce, truly integrated ‘bricks and clicks’ businesses are the exception and not the norm.

NetSuite recently sponsored a retail study by Frost & Sullivan, which indicated that a major challenge faced by many Australian retailers with a web presence is a lack of integration between their web front-end and back-end fulfillment systems. Only 24 percent of Australian retailers with a web presence currently have software that integrates web orders with their inventory management system.


Tree of Life store

Tree of Life has 54 physical outlets nationwide.

Tree of Life is a great example of an Australian retailer that has got it right. The retailer of fair trade clothing and accessories from developing countries, is using an advanced inventory management system across its head office, 54 retail stores, wholesale business and B2C e-commerce site – all from within the one unified omnichannel commerce solution. This has significantly improved the retailer’s control over its inventory with its automatically calculated reorder quantities and real-time visibility into sales figures and trends.

In order to find out more about how omnichannel retail platforms can be used to integrate accounting, POS, CRM and website software in just a few months, join us for our upcoming webinar on the topic, presented by CELL Bikes and NetSuite, on Thursday, February 27 at 12:30pm AEDT.

Showing online shoppers what’s available in stores and what’s online is fast becoming a mandate, but it doesn’t stop there — in-store employees need access too. Retailers need to quickly accommodate customers who cannot find the size, color, or variation they seek in stock at a particular location if they want to save the sale. Many retailers cannot even locate alternatives without pulling associates off the floor to manually call other locations and warehouses, never mind being able to quickly and efficiently locate the right product and have it shipped to the customer’s home, work, or preferred retail location.

Not only is this frustrating and a complete waste of time for a shopper, it is damaging to the retailers’ brand reputation and is enough to persuade the shopper to look elsewhere to find an easier shopping experience. In fact, today’s savvy, data-driven consumers can often find the same product somewhere else more quickly using their smartphones than a retail associate can conduct their own search.

Retailers do have resources at their disposal to meet the omnichannel promise by taking a more sophisticated approach to managing and fulfilling these orders. Heavily stocked locations are prime candidates for fulfilling out-of-store and online orders, reducing the risk of later markdowns. Accepting returns at any location, regardless of the purchase channel, also greatly enhances the omnichannel experience for customers and creates additional opportunity to strategically restock high volume locations as goods flow back into the organisation.

The command to ship products from any location and accept returns anywhere, however, cannot be built on the back of outdated, batch-processed inventory systems. Customer databases that fail to connect the dots between in-store buyers and online shoppers are equally inadequate. A single data source, connected across e-commerce, point of sale (POS) and mobile devices, which is capable of quick, real- time access, is the key to the omnichannel revolution.

Omnichannel strategies are not solely driven by technology, however, and effective merchandising backed by analytical tools, is still vitally important. Business rules that not only minimise markdowns, but also keep vital loss leaders or frequently bundled products on store shelves are crucial for the long-term success of an omnichannel strategy.

In many ways, this is just another variation on a familiar industry refrain – overcome inventory challenges or die. Without a modern, real-time and technologically advanced omnichannel strategy, satisfying customers is all but impossible.

In order to find out more about how omnichannel retail platforms can be used to integrate accounting, POS, CRM and website software in just a few months, join us for our upcoming webinar on the topic, presented by CELL Bikes and NetSuite, on Thursday, February 27 at 12:30pm AEDT.


3 thoughts on “Overcoming Omnichannel Demand Challenges”

  1. max says:

    I’m looking for a good omni-channel solution for my client but cant seem to find anything other than connectedsale.com and connectedbusiness.com

    1. Hi Max,

      Start by taking a look at our Solutions Providers Directory for some indication of some of the platform providers available: http://www.powerretail.com.au/solution-providers/category/e-commerce-systems-software/.

      We highly recommend comparing as many systems as possible to find the correct solution.

  2. max says:

    Thanks Campbell,

    I have clients on those systems now, but the problem is that when you have separate ecommerce, POS, warehousing, order management, accounting its not really omni-channel. connectedsale.com and connectedbusiness.com are the only solutions I have found so far that allows things like buy online and choose which store to pick up based on in-stock, Also – loyalty points and gift cards to not only work across all the channels seamlessly, but also post the liabilities to the financials. If there are others, I sure would love to know about them…

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