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Omnichannel Retail Supply Chain Processes

Prepping Omnichannel Retail Supply Chain Processes to Succeed In Peaks

The 2019 peak season is already on its way to the record books with this past “Black Friday” behind us. The statistics continue to roll in, but preliminary findings indicate that consumers toppled the $7.4 billion mark in online sales for the annual holiday shopping event, as reported by CNBC. According to CBS News, “Cyber Monday sales hit a record of $9.4 billion this year, with deal-seekers spending a whopping $12 million per minute during the so-called “golden hours of retail” that took place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern time after Americans across the country had returned home from work.” 

While it is still early in the game to pass judgment on the totality of the 2019 peak shopping season, the initial numbers are clear. Consumers are spending more, looking for their products online, and even taking advantage of buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) fulfillment.

Taylor Schreiner of Adobe Digital Insights stated to TechCrunch, “With Christmas now rapidly approaching, consumers increasingly jumped on their phones rather than standing in line. Small Business Saturday will accelerate sales for those retailers who can offer unique products or services that the retail giants can’t provide.”

To stay successful, supply chain leaders need to understand a few things about preparing omnichannel retail supply chain processes to succeed in peak season.

Challenges in Omnichannel Retail Peak Season

The challenges associated with the peak season for the supply chain are debated in great detail in many supply chain and retail publications. Everyone wants to do more, offer faster service, move more orders, reduce costs, avoid all delays, give customers something extra, surpass last year’s expectations, generate better reports, keep customers happy, improve employee satisfaction rates, and many other goals. Unfortunately, pleasing everyone all the time is impossible, and problems will occur.

When left unchecked, problems contribute to upset customers, missed deliveries, and other consequences. As reiterated by Material Handling & Logistics in 2006, which still holds true for fundamental supply chain prep during any peak season, “Peak season is not the time to do things a second time or make extra work due to insufficient communication. Make sure that everyone understands that the increased level of activity requires an increased commitment to prompt and accurate communication at all levels.”

Without communication and reliable, standardized processes, the pursuit of an omnichannel retail supply chain will ultimately fail.

Omnichannel Retail
Supply Chain Processes Depend on Integration and Data

Take a moment to think about what goes into omnichannel retail supply chain processes. All channels must communicate to ensure orders can be fulfilled between channels and presented with accurate details to consumers at their preferred channel of choice. The supply chain processes in this pursuit may include shipping items between warehouses, using brick-and-mortar stores as distribution and fulfillment centers, giving customers third-party shipping options for ship-to-home orders, and more. As a result, omnichannel retail supply chain processes depend on the integration and the meaningful use of data. With outdated data, it is impossible to collaborate, and poor collaboration will lead to disappointing outcomes.

Tips for Improving Peak Season Omnichannel Operations

Supply chain leaders can improve peak season omnichannel operations by revisiting their comprehensive strategies, as well as following these essential tips.

  • Rethink your picking processes and strategy. Avoid the hassle associated with traditional, batched order picking practices.
  • Redefine facility and yard boundaries and space utilization. Take advantage of available capacity and storage space within the yard and vertical space, as well.
  • Deploy analytics and artificial intelligence. Analytics implemented within the last five years are likely already out of date, especially if they do not use cloud-based technology. Consider deploying a newer, smarter analytics platform and using artificial intelligence to make sense of the data.
  • Leverage staff augmentation, turning high-quality staff into long-term workers simultaneously. “Whether you use one temporary staffing firm or many, don’t assume they will provide all the personnel you need when you need them. Confirm your anticipated requirements and iron out the particulars of your working arrangement in advance,” says Deborah Catalano Ruriani of Inbound Logistics.
  • Take full advantage of available labor resources. As explained by Total Retail, “Picking operations should be the next focus. All staff should be trained on how to properly use equipment — whether that be paper, RF, or tablet — to pull items and prepare them for shipping. Process adherence stabilizes performance, regardless of the size of the labor pool. If all staff is on the same page concerning picking and packing procedures, process adherence can offer predictive indicators (from history and experience) of bottlenecks
    and challenges.”
  • Start planning for the next season now. The next peak season is around the corner, and depending on the type of retailer, peak season may arrive as soon as the Super Bowl.
  • Maintain a backup plan for your backup plan, including additional carriers and more. While warehouse managers are traditionally focused on managing the warehouse, they should also be mindful of how other supply chain processes and partners interact, such as the need to build a new mix of backup carriers and logistics service providers to fulfill orders and ensure timely deliveries.

Meet Peak Demand With a Robust Omnichannel Strategy Now

Meeting peak season demand with a robust omnichannel strategy can push small and midsize businesses to new heights. Unfortunately, the issues are prevalent, and they are challenging to overcome. However, a solution does exist. Implement more modern, more effective omnichannel retail supply chain processes by choosing the right supply chain systems integrator, like Veridian. Request a consultation from Veridian to learn more today.

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