BOSTON — Boston Retail Partners, a retail management consulting firm, released findings from a survey, which offer insights into what retailers are doing to transform their supply chain. The firm's 2014 Supply Chain Benchmark Survey says the "unified commerce" initiative is a result of both multichannel and omnichannel retailing evolving to provide a seamless shopping experience anywhere a customer chooses to shop.
According to the results, customers in today's market have come to expect a consistent brand experience as well as accurate inventory availability and visibility in real time. To meet these expectations, retailers are shifting away from distinct shopping channels and moving toward a more cohesive customer-facing experience.
“We noted an impressive change in priorities over the past year as retailers shift their focus towards enabling the seamless experience today’s customers want,” said Walter Deacon, a principal of Boston Retail Partners. “However, transforming the supply chain to meet the needs of a buy anywhere/anytime customer requires significant resources and investments. Retailers able to deliver real-time retail as part of a compelling value proposition will certainly reap the rewards.”
Key statistics that illustrate the achievements and priorities of retailers in delivering a unified commerce supply chain include:
- Focused on unified commerce: 93% are adopting a unified commerce model with 54% in the planning stages and 39% currently implementing solutions;
- Cross-channel inventory fulfillment: 75% of retailers can fulfill inventory across multiple channels; and
- Corporate initiative: 63% identified “enable seamless customer experience online and in the store” as a top initiative
And while unified commerce is a top priority, BRP noted that there's still more work to be done to achieve it:
- Organizations have silos: 22% of companies indicated that they have merged their channels into a single organization;
- Managing supply chain with spreadsheets: 46% of respondents use static spreadsheets to manage their supply chain planning; and
- Limited cross-channel inventory visibility: 40% provide in-store “available to promise” (ATP) visibility to customers yet only 20% have this same visibility for their internal staff.
“Just as technology has provided continuous connectivity and responsiveness to the consumer, it also provides the tools to create a robust, responsive and information-rich supply chain,” said Ken Morris, a principal of Boston Retail Partners. “With advanced networks and sophisticated software and analytics, the technology is readily available to enable unified commerce. Now is the time to align the people and processes with the technology to make real-time retail a reality!”