Getting Started with Omni Channel
Any organization, planning to go down the omni-channel path, faces over-arching questions such as
Where to start from?
What do our customers expect?
What type of omni-channel organization are we?
The following four step process can help
- Defining strategic factors,
- Assessing capabilities
- Agreeing on channel priorities,
- Well rounded roadmap
Following this process enables organizations to take a calculated and well prepared leap into omni-channel. Let examine each step:
- Strategic Factors are cross functional, cross departmental and strategic for the direction of the whole organization. Their short term impact is fully understood in favor of the long term competitive advantage they provide. For example, DC inventory levels are not strategic in this context however entire network level inventory positioning is.
- Assessing capabilities means understanding strengths and weaknesses. A simple omni-channel process capability such as buy-online-pickup in store is orchestrated by a fair sized collection of cross functional capabilities such as store inventory visibility, cross channel demand, and store fulfillment. The process starts with identifying key capabilities, interviewing the key stakeholder seeking honest feedback on where the capabilities lack, and using feedback to prepare an organizational level scorecard.
- Agreeing on channel priorities by aligning your customer needs with strategic goals and building foundational capabilities before complex capabilities.A leading Men’s clothing retailer followed this approach for a Reserve Online over Ship from store initiatives to start their omni-channel transformation. Their customer valued the ability to see inventory at nearby stores before they walked into the stores. Most of the SKUs at this retailer are single unit, and being able to reserve the product was an additional value-add. The retailer’s strategic factor was to drive foot traffic into the store locations to upsell merchandize i.e. shirt, tie etc with a suit. They executed on this capability before building more complex omni-channel capabilities such as ship from store.
- Well rounded roadmap is a plan that breaks down the transformation into small manageable chunks. There are no cookie cutter plans – every organizations is different, strategic factors are unique, and customers value things differently, which makes plans unique.
Omni-channel transformation could be challenging however with a right plan and effective execution it can be done successfully. Folks who have already started on the journey are saying the benefits are worth it.