Omni-Channel Logistics Management – Retail is Back in 2018-21
We keep hearing about the growth and domination of e-commerce while dissecting the inevitable demise of retail. Almost all debates are centered around the merits of online shopping as opposed to the traditional brick and mortar avenues. But wait, look around and you will see the traditional players in retail coming back in the limelight. There is a clear and strong shift in the tide where several retail players have adopted the best features of e-commerce and turned themselves into omni-channel behemoths.
What has triggered this change in fortunes for the average retailers? The answer is simple, a continually evolving logistics management ecosystem.
Logistics management has been prevalent since Henry Ford first drafted the idea of assembly line automobiles. Charting the industrial revolution, you would find several bottlenecks popping up from time to time. Each time a problem raised its ugly head, an innovation was ready to tackle it. In the past few years, namely the first half of this decade, one could see the decline in the retail industry as they couldn’t match the convenience and customer experience offered by their online counterparts.
Many companies shut shops, as they couldn’t justify the overheads in the wake of lower footfalls. However, the past couple of years, at the advent of the second half of the decade, retailers are back in the limelight. They have adopted exceptional omni-channel strategies centered around amazing logistics management solutions.
Here are the major factors that have influenced the retail revival:
1) Realignment of the Value Proposition Along with the Core Competencies
Essentially, as marketers learned and made peace with the boom in the e-commerce phase, they kept an eye on the possible integration of the same with their retail mediums. The first question they needed to answer was ‘How would we match the e-commerce value proposition?’. Customers found e-commerce attractive based on the available product variety and ease of use.
Retail companies first tried to emulate the e-commerce providers through their own portals, but they couldn’t find the right balance between retail and online platforms. What happened next, changed the retail industry as we know it. The companies realized that they were rushing behind their competitor’s core competencies, leaving behind their own. They eventually caught on and found that the e-commerce could never match the personalized service experience that a retail outlet could offer. They went back to the ‘product + service’ model wherein they integrated their ‘service’ on their online portal. One could still buy products online, but the best feature of retail outlets was now their constant customer support, online and offline.
2) Optimization of Logistics Management Solutions Across Centers, Warehouses, and Hubs
Another big factor in favor of retailers was their exemplary warehouse network across diverse regions. E-commerce players pre-dominantly follow the market model where they don’t hold any inventory. To capitalize on this key differential, retailers upgraded their logistics management systems with the latest in high-end delivery management software integrated with fleet tracking solutions.
Retailers tied up with companies specializing in logistics and field workforce optimization. LogiNext, the fastest growing SaaS company in the space of transportation optimization and planning, partnered with multiple retail giants such as D-Mart and Tata Group. LogiNext streamlined their delivery mechanism through dynamic real-time tracking of deliverables. Multiple products offered by LogiNext solved differed pain-points previously associated with retail logistics.
For instance, LogiNext’s Mile was used to optimize route planning and tracking giving a clear delivery status analytics for any possible lags of delays. LogiNext’s Haul solved the linehaul management problem through GPS enabled fleet tracking. The retailers could now interlink their diverse network of warehouses into a single super warehouse system.
Imagine that you selected a television set from a retail store in a city, but due to lack of availability, the product would have to be shipped from elsewhere. Now the retailers could automate their logistics management to have the product delivered to the customer, from the external warehouse, within the previously stipulated timeline. Through this the retailers sold quality products, in quick time, and centered around the best after-sales service standards.
3) Synchronization of the Customer Experience Across Mediums
Here the retailers adopted the true nature of the omni-channel strategy. They integrated their logistics management system with their retail and online platforms. Now a potential customer surfing the retailer’s website could check the specs of any desired product and then visit the retailer to experience the product first hand. Here the customer could choose to buy the product, or not.
The key thing that works in the favor of retailers now, is that they have a clear location and address associated with the purchase. Buying from a store, through an experienced sales professional where the customer can clarify all doubts in real-time, extends a great deal of credibility to the retailer. The delivery process can be automated after purchase through any efficient last mile tracking solution. If you are keeping track, the retailer matched all the functionalities of the e-commerce websites, and still bought the customer to the store.
This is an actual win, which is driving the resurgence of the retail industry. The stores are attracting the customers through an omni-channel strategy while maintaining their credibility.
Soon, you would see more retailers hitching onto the omni-channel bandwagon. If you are a retailer, remember the crux of the solution lies in upgrading your entire logistics management system. Once that is done, the other factors would fall right into place.