The omnichannel hype meets reality: reduce complexity with a unified view on inventory

A typical customer journey today may include three, four or even more different channels. In fact, most people don’t even think about channels anymore: they just see the brand, no matter whether they look at your products in your stores, on your e-commerce platforms, on social media or on your mobile app.

While the advantages for customers are obvious, there are a lot of discussions in the market if omnichannel can be a profitable business model for retailers. Still there is a lot of skepticism as omnichannel services are typically connected with high costs and complexity. For the majority of retailers, playing on all possible channels turned out be less successful than they initially hoped. One major problem is the lack of a unified view on stock, which means that there are many versions of the truth. This increases the complexity to a very high level.

However, there is no doubt that customers expect a personalized, digital shopping experience across different channels. Merchandise availability is a crucial factor to ensure a positive experience. Arguably, stock is one of the most valuable resources a retailer has. The value is even increasing in today’s omnichannel world and the need for a single point of truth with an integrated stock is rising. To achieve this, a growing number of retailers adopt RFID, because the technology makes it possible to automate the stock management resulting in optimal merchandise availability.

The biggest challenge is to meet the customer expectations without making things more complicated

The challenge is to meet the performance promise on all channels with the same operational excellence. Omnichannel is not about adding more technology, it’s about redesigning processes to keep the customer at the center of the experience. We can assume that customers are more forgiving if a retailer does not offer an omnichannel service than if it is badly implemented.

Nedap supports retailers to run their business in an excellent way. The stock management system !D Cloud is a cloud-hosted software-as-a-service solution that functions as a scalable integration layer between the existing ERP system and RFID readers. !D Cloud does not replace the retailer’s ERP system, but feeds it with accurate data, which makes omnichannel retailing a much simpler exercise, because the retailer knows exactly which items he has and where they are located.

Watch our interview with River Island’s Jon Wright, Head of Global Loss Prevention & Safety, to hear first-hand how they use RFID to enable omnichannel:

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About the author: Tom Vieweger

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