In the past, the supply chain’s sole reason for existence was to finished products into retail stores.
However, the retail ecosystem is very different today, and as a result – so is the modern supply chain. The brick-and-mortar store is now just one channel in a multi-channel retail environment. The typical range of channels now includes brick-and-mortar stores, manufacturer websites, online retailers, social media pages, catalogs and pop-up stores.
What is cross-channel?
Cross-channel is when a customer uses several different channels for one purchase. So, perhaps they see a retailer’s online banner ad, browse through that retailer’s offerings, go to the-brick-and-mortar store to look at actual products, pay for an item and then have it delivered to their door.
All of this has changed consumer expectations: People expect to be able to order a product in any one of a myriad of different ways, and have it show up to their door or a local store for pickup at a relatively low cost.
Multiple sales channels force supply chain supervisors to simultaneously cater to and predict varying internal and external requirements so they can carry on meeting time windows, keeping costs low, maintaining proper inventory levels and helping fuel growth. Put simply, supply chains are being called on to provide a ton of versatility.
How is cross-channel being handled?
For suppliers, a natural inclination might be to boost inventory amounts near the point of demand, as shown by cross-channel data. Some retailers have shifted toward this model, with software and inventory systems to handle and monitor each channel via independent systems.
However, managing inventory, being prepared to ship on-time and working with a diverse customer base are all far harder when using distinct systems for several channels. Depending on how resources have been allotted, this siloed system can lead to unforeseen bottlenecks, resulting in customer complaints or supply chain blind-spots – where bad visibility causes missed sales, decreased inventory turns, boosted inventory investment and greater costs.
Hence, the somewhat standard method of satisfying a customer’s order out of the geographically nearest warehouse is starting to become obsolete. Additionally, conventional inventory systems are not up to the job of efficiently and correctly supplying products, which puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage.How Can Your Supply Chain Benefit From Cross-Channel Attribution?
One solution has been to outsource some supply chain functions to third parties. This allows for the extension of a company’s abilities from a technological perspective and the accommodation of nuances in any given channel.
However, some companies are now contemplating bringing outsourced functions back within their own walls, if they haven’t done so already. Many of these organizations have learned the basic principles of their supply chains, as well as any limitations and issues by monitoring the performance of their service providers. This maturation of knowledge within the industry, as well as the emergence of cross-channel, could speed up the shift toward in-sourcing of all logistical flows.
In reality, a single software solution that is able to manage supply flows can provide significant competitive advantages. Importantly, it means consistent cataloging of available items for increased visibility. A single system also allows for supply chain professionals to coordinate with a company’s marketing department, which allows for both departments to benefit from cross-channel retail.
Work With a Leader in Supply Chain Recruiting
At ZDA, we specialize in working with supply chain professionals, so we understand the unique this industry faces. If your company is looking to partner with a supply chain recruiter with this kind of insight, please contact us today.