Omnichannel Supply Chain: What Is It and Why It Matters?

With the rising number of customers globally in demand for different products through different sales channels, managing their incessant demands can be a little more complicated for any retailer. 

For example, as a retailer who has hundreds of purchases coming in daily from physical stores and online orders placed via mobile devices or desktop computers, how do you handle all these purchases? How do you ensure that excellent customer experience is extended to all these customers across all channels and that your brand is meeting their high expectations? Consumers are increasingly becoming demanding with levels of customization and immediacy, therefore to maintain your customer service standards, you’ll have to consider using an omnichannel supply chain.

🚀Read Omnichannel Guide for Digitally Advanced Brands🚀

If you’re a little confused about the term of the omnichannel supply chain, in this article we’ll be discussing further to help you get a full grasp around this term. We’ll explain what omnichannel is all about with a little tip on how you can enhance your business to improve your customer experience across all of the company channels using the omnichannel supply chain.

What is Omnichannel Supply Chain?

An omnichannel supply chain is a distribution system that makes it possible for your customers to purchase and receive their orders from any channel of their choice. It is a system that integrates the operations and product flow across all channels to provide a smooth shopping experience for all customers regardless of the channel they use to make purchases. So whether your customers are making purchases at your physical store, shopping online via mobile phones or desktop computers, or placing orders over the phone, the omnichannel distribution approach helps you provide a seamless customer experience for all of the customers.

The omnichannel approach is not just about the integration of retail supply chains across different channels. It also involves the integration of communication and promotion channels on the backend. With this approach, a customer service representative speaking with a customer at the physical store can easily make references to the customer’s previous purchases or preferences as well as like a customer support rep on the phone or chat. The omnichannel approach will also make it possible for a customer to check for available stock via a desktop computer, make the purchase via a mobile phone and decide to pick up the goods at a chosen location.

Omnichannel vs Multichannel Supply Chain

You can spot the difference between these two supply chains even from their names. Omni is derived from the Latin word Omnis which means “all” or “every” while multi in Multichannel means many. To help you get a deeper understanding of the difference between these two; although both supply chains sell across digital and physical channels, the customer experience is not the same in both cases.

In a multichannel supply chain, a retailer who has a physical store and a web store has these two channels and supply chains siloed. They are completely isolated from each other and do not have any interaction. The stores have their supply chain different from the digital supply chain that sells to customers who order from the websites. Therefore the stores have their stock completely different from the website stock. As a customer, your communication with the retailer online is completely separated from offline interactions. In summary, this means that the two channels are being run as separate businesses even though they sell the same thing. Therefore a customer is left to make a choice on either of the channels and stick to it.

Learn how to improve customer interaction with the Paldesk tips!  

Why is Omnichannel Supply Chain Important for Customer Experience? 

Today, customers don’t care about these differences; they don’t see the silos but a single brand. Even if they have multiple touchpoints with the retailer, they expect to get the absolute customer experience with their journey between the two channels seamless. Every customer wants to interact with a brand from multiple channels; online, social media, mobile, and physical store without having these interactions separated. This is where the omnichannel supply chain comes in. Therefore the difference between omnichannel and multichannel supply chain is that the omnichannel supply chain joins all the touchpoints together enabling the customers to have a consistent and unified experience regardless of the channel they choose to buy from at any moment. 

This also extends to the customer support they get. For example, if a customer starts a conversation over the webchat and decides to end the chat and place a call even after submitting a personal detail, if you run an omnichannel approach, you should be able to accommodate the customer on both channels transferring the personal detail already submitted on the web chat to the agent over the phone without the customer having to reintroduce himself or submitting the same personal detail again. This is possible because of the back end integration of both channels.

Learn more about customer touchpoints and the ways to improve the customer journey, with the extensive Customer Journey Mapping guide from Paldesk. 

In conclusion, the omnichannel strategy is being driven by the rapid growth in e-commerce and consumer habits. To successfully run a seamless omnichannel experience as a retailer, you’ll have to bring in a modern supply chain which will extend delivery across other channels like mobile apps, social media, and websites and not just your physical store. A lot of companies like Best Buy have done this and the results are very positive. To get there, you’ll have to break down the silos between your online and physical stores, employ new technologies which include new delivery methods and inventory management systems.

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Omnichannel Supply Chain: What Is It and Why It Matters? was last modified: September 3rd, 2020 by Milica Vujasin
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