Omnichannel Opportunities in Traditional Retail Distribution Networks

Back in 2011, people started talking about “omnichannel” and the expected impacts on brick-and-mortar retail operations (it was going to be catastrophic, remember?). The tradeshows and conferences that serve the front-of-house retail market were abuzz. Then, the conversation morphed to focus on marketing topics, often honing in on web analytics and the provision of a seamless consumer experience (everyone had their own version of this infographic, remember?). And, the web marketing tradeshows and conferences were abuzz. 
Somehow though, across these years of conversation, it took until early 2015 for the discussion (and the buzzword) to finally take root in the Warehousing and Parcel Logistics industries. But, it has arrived…and its arrival is shining a light on technologies and services that have been available for years…but that are newly relevant to traditional Retail Distribution networks.
The needs of traditional retail distribution networks are dramatically changing.  What was once a well-defined serial fulfillment and returns process has become a multi-nodal, complex, nonlinear logistics network. Retailers are forever changed and a focus on inventory visibility and supply chain effectivity is increasingly more critical for their success…and for their survival.  In fact, the cost of not being omnichannel ready is estimated at 6.5%.
In order to succeed in this fast-changing landscape, traditional retailers must successfully align traditional business processes with a single view of their inventory across stores, warehouses, and distribution centers.
Here’s what companies need to consider in order to power through their own omnichannel transformations and to realize increased profits and heightened customer engagement:
Your Stores are Key: Treat each store as a fulfillment location.  Leverage available technology solutions (such as RFID tagging, handheld readers, and mobile terminals) to more accurately and consistently identify and locate your stock. You can fulfill omnichannel orders from the back of your stores or from the location closest to customers by providing tools at these locations to manage and deliver stock (such as a compact dimensioning, weighing, and scanning (DWS) solution). 
Create a robust inventory management system: Dive more deeply into the data that surrounds each and every one of your products, by tracking their velocity through each store and warehouse and by leveraging high-speed cameras in your distribution facilities to capture information about potential package damage.
If the box fits, use it!: With the dimensional weight price changes now in effect, having the ability to identify the right box for the right product at the right price is even more crucial to better manage shipping costs.  Adopt solutions to employ box optimization technology, and ensure that any automated systems are pulling data from a Master Data Catalog that is consistently kept up to date through the use of automated scanning and dimensioning systems at points in your warehouses where unit-level product is handled.
Returns (to inventory): Accepting returns at your stores can wreak havoc with your inventory accuracy. Analyze your alternatives, and choose a solution that can allow you to inject returned products instantly back into your inventory tracking system.

Check out available technology, solutions and sources of knowledge to help you automate identification and data across your inventory locations…to provide you the insights that you need to achieve your goals.

For more information, please contact Jon Stiles, Marketing Manager, North America for Datalogic at [email protected].

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