By Ellen Dixon | Retail info systems news
As retailing becomes more of an omnichannel business, merchandise management has grown increasingly challenging. Supply chain operations have evolved from single-channel transactions to all-channel order orchestration. Processes have become more complex and more prone to escalating costs.
How do retailers ensure the profitability of all-channel operations? Here are five ways retailers can optimize practices and help ensure success in the omnichannel world.
- Master Data Management: Unified information enables “omni-inventory” management from purchasing all the way through to allocation. Once the retailer has rethought product choice from channel to customer preference, merchandise can be re-aligned to create an agile environment that supports the customer. This agile environment requires the right assortment choice, consistent price across channels and customer interaction. With and integrated, complete understanding from buyers to sellers, retailers can deliver an omnichannel strategy from planning all the way through to targeted selling.
- Business Intelligence: For a long time, core retail systems have been static – that has to change. Once you can access all your data across multiple systems and types of customers, it’s time to analyze and visualize that information. After all, the retail dynamic today is in the value of customer shopping habits. Good analytics will help you understand who your shoppers are how they are shopping so that you can design and implement campaigns that will influence their shopping behavior.
- Campaign Management: If the multi-channel shopper is highest value customer, then retailers must leverage BI to convert as many customers as possible from single to multi-channel shoppers. Good campaign management is all about BI optimization and the workflows around each campaign. There is a huge opportunity for marketing departments to better target commerce. They can get a faster read on a customer response to a message and tie it back into the merchandise function based on customer demand.
- Real-Time Fulfillment: Customer satisfaction is tightly linked to the fulfillment chain. Real-time responsiveness helps make available to promise what can be purchased when. Consequently, retailers need both omnichannel inventory visibility as well as pro-active inventory management so inventory can be redeployed across channels. Fulfillment innovations, such as the new “click and collect” function, is turning stores into fulfillment centers for online shoppers. Retailers need real-time, agile inventory for this to work.
- Omnichannel Planning and Forecasting: Must be realigned across customer, product and inventory for successful planning and forecasting. To make it work, retailers may need incentive plans to help sales associates understand the importance. With product at its core, omnichannel merchandising includes both pricing and promotion, too. Social data comes into play, too, but not as tightly coupled as you’d like it to be. Core facts need to be assembled based on business practices. So that information can be called upon for decision making.
The goal of successful omnichannel merchandising should be personalization in a mass industry. Smart retailers will integrate information across all channels so that they can develop customer insights then transform those insights into growth strategies. With a single master data management platform from which to plan and collaborate across all channels, retailer will be able to expedite on their omnichannel merchandising strategy.
Ellen Dixon is global senior vice president of marketing at Symphony EYC, a global leader in delivering ROI for retailers and manufacturers using customer insights to drive execution.