Ten imperatives for multi-channel success

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Multi-channel retailers must move towards click-and-collect and away from over-extending offerings, according to research by the Cranfield School of Management, conducted in association with Manhattan Associates.

The research found that businesses disagree on how to deal with common challenges. For example, whether products and offers should be consistent throughout all channels. While many want to present a consistent offering, others maintain that web channels should be treated differently to others because they provide opportunities to extend ranges and trial new lines.

The top ten tips are:

1    Always have complete stock visibility – nothing else matters if a company cannot see what stock it has and where it is.

2    Be clear on the customer proposition – this will ensure that all processes are focused on achieving the right goals.

3     Integrate multi-channel systems – all channels are linked, via the customer, so it’s important that an organisation links them in the back-office as well.

4     Promote click-and-collect – this requires the physical integration of channels, but enables companies to gain more value from customers.

5     Manage ranges – It’s easy to fill space on a website, but the fulfilment of the endless-aisle can be problematic.

6     Build partnerships across the supply base – this will make processes throughout the supply chain easier to execute.

7     Prioritise forecasting and planning – without visibility and expectation of what’s coming up, companies will always be playing catch-up.

8     Keep similar stock together – don’t split items by channel, it distorts visibility of stock levels and lowers agility.

9     One order = One delivery – make sure that every order, regardless of how many items it has, is fulfilled as one delivery. Ultimately, it’s cheaper and better for the customer.

10    Maintain price consistency – unless your goal is to drive customers to one channel or another, prices should be kept consistent.

Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director at Manhattan Associates, said: “Many retailers and 3PLs are unprepared on a technology and process level to take on the challenges of the multi-channel environment. Without a significant amount of agility in the supply chain and a singular focus on achieving cross-channel operational and service excellence, many organisations will simply find it very difficult to meet the twin goals of margin enhancement and service improvement.”

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