CONSULTING FOR THE MIDDLE MARKET

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1 BUSINESS INSIGHTS Omni-Channel Retailing in Middle Market Part I: Understanding Omni-Channel & its Potential Impacts on the Retailing Industry Brock D. Eckles July 29, 2015 CONSULTING FOR THE MIDDLE MARKET The ever-increasing utilization of on-line shopping options is fundamentally altering the Retail Industry and displacing the traditional brick -andmortar approach.

2 1 OMNI-CHANNEL RETAILING IN MIDDLE MARKET COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION OF THE OMNI-CHANNEL RETAILING ENVIRONMENT. OVERVIEW In today s hyper-competitive Retail Industry, adapting to the customers evolving needs is paramount to an organization s survival. Traditional approaches to retail revolved around a relatively straightforward brick-andmortar model in which customers visited stores, interacted with products, and made purchases. However, in today s marketplace customers have many more options available to facilitate their shopping activities. Social media, e-commerce, click-and-collect, and other such evolving points all add to a nuanced Retail Industry. Retailers that successfully manage to blend all of these customer touch-points into a seamless experience are said to be conducting Omni-Channel retailing. To clarify the notion of Omni-Channel, we look to Bill Davis, an industry thought-leader, who defined the approach in the following manner To me, Omni-Channel is the logical evolution of multi-channel retailing. In multi-channel retailing, companies sell through several sales channels but each channel brick & mortar, catalog, e-commerce, contact center, mobile is independent of the others. In Omni-Channel retailing, a customer can use more than one sales channel to shop from a retailer for any given transaction. They can buy online and pick up in-store for example, or use mobile in-store to research or make a purchase, or they can buy in-store and initiate a return online. 1 So how does an organization go about assessing, designing and implementing the required changes to achieve Omni-Channel retailing? It is not any easily accomplished task and requires a significant amount of investigation, consideration and due diligence to be properly attained. In the following whitepaper, the first in a three-part series (see Figure 1), the Omni-Channel journey will be discussed in terms of its impacts to the Retail Model. In the subsequent whitepapers in the Omni-Channel Whitepaper Series Strategy Design Implement Execute Whitepaper III Whitepaper II Whitepaper I Figure 1: Omni-Channel Series

3 2 series, we will explore how organizaitons should go about the designing, implementing and execution of Omni- Channel retailing. In this discussion, we will explore Omni-Strategy and some of the potential issues that retailers should consider as they prepare to take the journey to an Omni-Channel retailing model. These issues include: Strategic considerations The store s evolving position in the retailing model Supply chain requirements to support Omni-Channel Implications to a retailer s portfolio of IT systems STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS To illustrate the growing importance of e-commerce and Omni-Channel, consider the situation as it is displayed in Figure 2. Over the past 5 years, year-on-year growth in e-commerce sales in the US market has been approximately 15%. Additionally, e- Commerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales have been steadily increasing. These figures underscore the importance of retailers establishing sound operating models to meet their customers needs. 20.0% 18.0% 16.0% 14.0% 12.0% 10.0% 8.0% 6.0% 4.0% 2.0% 0.0% Q Q Q Q Q Q So what does this mean for a retailer s strategic environment? From a strategic Figure 2: US Retail Sales 1 perspective, retailers must first determine if and how their business model will acclimate to the Omni-Channel retailing world. Some retailers may determine that their target demographics or operating model do not mesh well with an Omni-Channel offering. However, most retailers will find that evolving to an Omni-Channel entity will offer significant growth opportunities that cannot be ignored in today s competitive environment. Once a retailer understands the relative importance of Omni-Channel in their business, a strategic plan must then be developed. The aspects of the plan, many of which will be discussed later in this whitepaper, require input from all corners of the retailer s business. Store operations, supply chain, merchandise planning, sourcing, and senior leadership team members must all be involved in the plan s development. By taking a holistic approach to the project, retailers will ensure that all impacted points are being properly addressed. e-comm % of Total Total e-comm

4 3 THE STORE S EVOLVING POSITION IN THE RETAILING MODEL Perhaps that most interesting element in Omni-Channel evolution is the impact on store operations. Historically, stores were the center of the retailer s operations and consisted of basic, fundamental activities. Stores were responsible for selling products, keeping shelves stocked with products, and managing the majority of the customer experience. However, Omni-Channel has had a tremendous impact on this operating model. Stores must now provide a broader range of services to customers which include processing returns for online orders, fulfilling online orders, and facilitating product research questions for increasingly knowledgeable customers. So what does this mean for retailers and how can they go about structuring their store operations to effectively meet their customers needs? In order to answer these questions, we will explore each of the impacts individually and assess solution options Figure 3: Expicient ExStore Order fulfillment Click-and-collect and store pick-up are becoming ubiquitous options across the Retail Industry. These solutions require significant supply chain visibility to inventory in the distribution center network and store locations. One solution that has gained momentum is treating store locations as mini distribution centers capable of fulfilling online customer orders. To accomplish this task, stores must have the ability to process orders, pick inventory, and prepare it for customer pick-up. These tasks are most often performed in warehouse environments and are facilitated by comprehensive Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Rather than installing such systems in every store, some retailers are utilizing WMS-lite options. One such system, ExStore, is available from Expicient and is utilized by several leading retailers. Figure 3 highlights the system s interface that is used by store associates to fulfill customer orders. Figure 4: iqmetrix's Endless Aisle Solution Endless aisle Endless aisle solutions are hybrid solutions that leverage e-commerce and brick-and-mortar elements. Figure 4 showcases iqmetrix s endless aisle solution. This solution offers in-store displays that allow customers to order products not physically available in stores. The products will flow into the retailer s network and initiate home delivery or in-store pick-ups. The solution also has the ability to provide product information, retailer marketing collateral, and various other customer engagement aspects.

5 4 Returns In the Omni-Channel era, stores must be able to process customer returns for online orders. In order to support this activity, stores must have visibility to these orders and be able to process the inventory accordingly. Supply chain processes must be established to ensure efficient handling of these transactions. Inventory management Inventory management poses a particularly challenging situation for retailers in establishing Omni-Channel operations. Disparate inventory holdings and limited systems connectedness makes holistic views of inventories that much more difficult. There are solutions that combat this situation by creating bridges between the systems and offering aggregated inventory views. These systems work with existing systems infrastructures with appealing implementation and cost options. Figure 5 identifies one such solution from Manthan Systems that provides a dashboard for merchandise planners to utilize. Manthan s platform enables comprehensive analytics and visibility to drive improved inventory management practices. Importantly, this type of solution does not necessarily replace existing systems, as it simply augments the infrastructure with improved functionality. Figure 5: Manthan System's Platform SUPPLY CHAIN REQUIREMENTS The scale of the impact that Omni-Channel has on supply chain activities cannot be understated, as it can mean entirely new operating requirements. Retailers accustomed to store replenishment will struggle to perform everincreasing amounts of unit picks, meet evolving customer delivery expectations, and could become swamped with customer returns to stores and distribution centers. Additionally, Omni-Channel frequently involves enhancements being introduced to the order management process, so retailers may struggle with forecasting activities and workload balancing in their operations. So what can retailers do to get ahead of these issues and properly support their customers needs? The most important factor is designing and implementing flexible supply chain solutions. Distribution centers must balance associate productivity enablers (e.g. automated pick / put-away) with scalability. While this can be a challenge, it is by no means impossible. There are a number of solutions available in the marketplace today that can offer such

6 5 advantages. Retailers should evaluate their operations today to assess the options available to them. This process should be structured around a comprehensive business case that weighs the pros and cons of each scenario, accounts for strategic imperatives, and arrives at a recommended course of action. Figures 6 and 7 show a few examples of flexible picking strategies that retailers can look to employ within their distribution centers. Figure 6: Pick to Voice Figure 7: Goods to Associate Picking

7 6 IMPLICATIONS FOR IT SYSTEMS The bedrock for solid Omni-Channel operations is an agile IT systems infrastructure that is capable of evolving with the retailer s needs. Establishing such a systems portfolio is no easy task, as retailers frequently have to WMS navigate a network of legacy systems that are deeply ingrained in all facets of the business. To illustrate this point, please consider Figure 8, which depicts an average retailer s systems portfolio. Effective Omni- Channel operations break down the barriers that exist between these systems and enable a common data pool for retailers to utilize during the sales process and customer interactions. TMS ERP POS By developing and deploying a unified systems strategy in which all systems communicate with each other, Figure 8: Retailer Systems retailers can more easily deliver on seamless channel experiences for its customers. As previously stated, this is a challenging endeavor and will likely involve a fair degree of systems integration work. CONCLUSION The Omni-Channel revolution is far from its completion and is still taking form in terms of the various services and solution offerings. Retailers are faced with an evolving landscape in which the ability to maintain their competitive edge is increasingly in jeopardy. Given the aforementioned elements and the following two whitepapers, it would be a wise move to engage a strategic partner that is experienced in all facets of the retailing landscape. Figure 9 provides one last piece of guidance and highlights the functional areas of expertise required in a strategic partner. Retailers would be wise to engage resources and/or partners that possess a broad range of expertise in supply chain operations, store operations, IT systems, and marketing. By leveraging subject matter experts in each of these areas in their Omni-Channel efforts, they can be assured to develop and implement strategies that capture all of the opportunities that are present in their operating environments. Supply Chain IT Systems Vendors Functional Expertise Store Operations Marketing Figure 9: Functional Expertise Requirements

8 7 AUTHOR Brock D. Eckles, Head of Meris Consulting s Retail Practice, has over 15 years of experience in global supply chain operations. During much of that time, he worked for third-party logistics providers on designing and improving clients supply chains. He has a strong background in e-commerce operations design, facility design, transportation network optimization, continuous improvement and business development activities. While working with clients, he has the ability to leverage knowledge of best practices and industry trends to reduce operating costs, improve efficiencies, increase supply chain visibility and mitigate risks to business continuity. Brock has spent time in Asia, Latin America and Europe working for large logistics companies. He has extensive experience with SAP, Red Prairie, Manhattan and various other supply chain systems. Meris Consulting, LLC 1790 Hughes Landing Blvd. Suite 400 The Woodlands, TX USA

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