The Continuous Development of Omnichannel Supply Chains

The Continuous Development of Omnichannel Supply Chains Author: Katie Hart Published: 20 June 2017

‘Omnichannel’ has been a hot topic in FMCG and retail for a while now. As the meaning of an omnichannel offering continues to evolve, it remains relevant and worthy of much attention and resource. 

An ominchannel offer has caused tremendous change within supply chain and such disruption has required companies to rethink the way in which their supply chains are designed. A definite trend towards individualisation and customisation, easy access to a multitude of options regarding how to shop and growing customer expectations means that the supply chain function today has to be fully integrated into the heart of a business to operate successfully.

Getting the customer what they want, ordered through whichever channel they choose, where they want it and when they want it is putting extreme pressure on traditional supply chains. In addition, the service has to be low cost and high touch to leave a positive impression upon the customer and deliver a consistent brand experience across all online and offline channels. Slow, inefficient and inconvenient delivery can cost businesses sales and customers can be permanently lost to the competition.

In a Food Manufacture survey, 71% of respondents agreed that their companies were investing in supply chain operations, with 59% agreeing that their companies were adapting their supply chains for more omnichannel sales. In a recent IGD report two in three businesses said they were increasing investment in supply chain technology.

This is positive news, as significant investment is needed to ensure tools, technology, facilities and logistics are fit for purpose. A large portion of this investment will need to be put into people; the training and development of existing employees and also into the recruitment of talent to fill skills gaps that are uncovered. Delivering an efficient omnichannel supply chain is still relatively uncharted territory but it is important that supply chain leaders are allowed to invest in and upskill their teams. For some the change may be a step too far but leaders willing to embrace omnichannel will find an opportunity to explore news ways of working, drive improvements and make an impact like never before.

It could be argued that now is not the time to be committing to large investment; consumer behaviours are changing rapidly and the market faces a lot of uncertainty. However, the opportunities that an agile supply chain offers are vast. Companies that succeed in the omnichannel race will find the benefits far outweigh the investment.  A successful omnichannel supply chain has positive implications for the whole business and business leaders should champion this evolution and seek the knowledge, collaboration and talent required for success.

Katie Hart is a Consultant specialising in supply chain, technical and NPD appointments.

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