Retailers must put the management and allocation of stock back at their heart of their business if they want to successfully compete in today’s retail world, according to Walter Blackwood, omnichannel logistics expert at W&MB Consulting at last week’s eDelivery Conference.
In a world where click and collect is becoming the norm within the environment of delivery he said retailers had to manage a supply chain convergence within their businesses.
“Historically you built different sheds – a shed that did retail and then ecommerce emerged and you went to a 3PL or built yourself a new shed. Now a lot of orders are being sent to store and you are getting supply chain convergence in the way stock is being used,” he said.
Those retailers who ignored such trends risk losing out, he said. “If we don’t allow the supply chain to converge we are building in unnecessary cost and unnecessary flexibility into the supply chain.”
But he pointed out that there were also challenges in converging stock. “In most environments the retail stock doesn’t look like ecommerce stock so you have to convert stock from being retail ready to ecommerce ready. That’s adding another cost. It’s about how you create an environment where one item of stock can be used in a number of ways,” he said.
He said that retailers need to follow basic steps in getting the delivery experience right with getting it right first time obvious but critical. “The second critical element is ensuring the order is collated. If you are having to create multiple dispatches from different places then you are going to send out multiple parcels, multiple picks, delivery costs etc. When you are offering a broad range are you going to be able to fulfil all those different orders from one place at the same time? Collation is probably the critical driver of success,” he said.
Businesses have to ensure they don’t overpromise and underdeliver, he stressed. “You need to understand from your organisation what the capabilities are and what can your partners or operational abilities actually deliver,” he said.
And finally he warned against retailers ignoring the power of social media when it comes to customer disputes over delivery. “It’s one of things that’s probably changed most is the ability for people to criticise – now 100 people can be disappointed particularly if you do it spectacularly wrong. Never understimate ability of the customer to complain effectively,” he said.