Omni-channel Retail and Ecommerce

With more and more shops closing on the highstreets, the most notable of which include retailer store closures of Woolworths and BHS, and now include many Marks and Spencer’s and WH Smith stores also shutting their physical doors for good; What does the future of retail need to take stock of?

Of course, the closure of physical stores, is not the be all and end all of retail businesses altogether, in some instances it is only the beginning. Take for example the recent Marks and Spencer (M&S) store closures; M&S still operate as a brand, and a business, and still fulfil their purpose to serve the consumer, however, like many retailers are now doing, they are simply providing their services to consumers, through numerous, alternative, intangible channels.

Over recent years, technology has become a forerunner in the logistics arena. An increasing number of companies are offering consumers more convenient (for the consumer) ways to shop and are using technology and the internet to integrate their physical store and products, with the ability to access and purchase these online.

Smart phones, the advent of web 2.0, and numerous immersive digital platforms, including apps, widgets, and eCommerce sites, allows for the consumer to order and purchase, nearly any product, anywhere, at any time; including the option to choose delivery times and locations suitable to themselves.

It is this addition of new technologies, which provides customers today with more choice of where to shop, which when paired with increasingly busy lifestyles, is what subsequently leads to this fragmentation of product purchase destination.

The world of retail is swiftly moving from bricks and mortar stores, to clicks and mortar stores, and even purely online sales. With the advancement of e-commerce, many companies are now realising that their supply chain needs to begin to adapt to the increasing changes in consumer demands, and can ultimately no longer stand reliant on the literal foundations upon which the world of retail was built.

Continued growth within eCommerce means is it important for organisations to prepare themselves and their businesses, to be capable of fulfilling orders through the most efficient channels, regardless of where the orders originate, adopting eCommerce facilities on their website, providing apps for consumers to use, and implementing convenient click and collect points, or customer tailored deliveries. All which underpin the very foundation of omni-channel fulfilment.

As the name states, Omni-channel fulfilment is not a singular technology addressing a singular problem, it is Instead, a combination of solutions that allow an organization to fulfil orders received from multiple channels through a variety of networks; the key component being fulfilment of all orders through the most efficient channel for both the consumer and company. Onmichannel retail is an example of an integrated Supply Chain, beautifully integrating and facilitating online and offline shopping.

As eCommerce continues to grow, it fuels the rise in omni-channel fulfilment. Findings from a recent ARC survey on omni-channel fulfilment suggests that e-commerce revenues have increased 51 percent over the last five years, and are expected to grow 42 percent in the next five years.

With the consumer now more in control than ever, it’s in retailers’ best interests to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to buy the items they want, when they want, and in the way they want. Retailers who expect to succeed in the long-term need to adapt to the ever-chaning logistical landscape, to prevent falling behind.

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