In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.

In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:

  • Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
  • Optimizing their workforce. Omnichannel fulfillment is no free lunch; these programs require additional labor and expertise in order to operate effectively.Technologies like labor planning software, associate training tools, and real-time task management help retailers ensure that they have the right number of qualified associates on hand to perform the right tasks at the right times.
  • Using more accurate demand data to improve merchandise planning and supply chain sourcing. A welcome byproduct of omnichannel fulfillment is seeing a more accurate picture of consumer demand. By understanding the true demand of where products are sold, retail supply chain leaders can better position products in local stores or regional distribution centers to improve speed to customers and increase the profitability of these orders. Merchandisers can plug this demand into merchandise planning to improve their organization’s ability to sell through all inventory.
  • Evangelizing long-term success metrics. Along with measuring overall sales and profit, eBusiness leaders must implement omnichannel fulfillment KPIs that take the long-term view into account. This includes measurements around the efficiency of store operations, such as the time it takes an associate to prepare a click-and-collect order.

What steps is your company taking to optimize its omnichannel fulfillment program? As always, I welcome continuing the conversation with clients via Forrester’s inquiry process and in the comments section below.