- Omnichannel is the theme of this year's holiday season, as logistics providers grow accustomed to providing both B2B and B2C deliveries from manufacturers, The Loadstar reported.
- Retailers are embracing omnichannel options at a quick pace, allowing not only buy online, pick up in-store and curbside options, but also adding a new option called "reserve online, try in-store," complete with attached pop-up dressing rooms, Crain's Chicago Business reported.
- Returns too have earned a makeover, with e-commerce return vendors appearing in many malls and even in shops themselves. Such kiosks save retailers money on shipping costs, speed return of funds to customers and even bring in more foot traffic.
Omnichannel offerings and the challenges behind the process are top of mind for almost every retailer, retail analyst, and industry expert this holiday season.
"The focus for omnichannel retailers this holiday season, and indeed this applies any other time of year, will be to respond to each customer in a manner he or she is expecting," Sam Cinquegrani, CEO of ObjectWave, a digital strategy and services firm told Supply Chain Dive.
Cinquegrani goes on to describe the impact e-commerce has played in forcing brick and mortar retailers' hands. "The online retailers have been so disruptive to retail that retailers must look for any and all different ways to satisfy the customer. In-store pickup, curbside pickup, easy return policies and methods are all different ways to satisfy what the customer is looking for," he notes. "In a sense, this outlook takes supply chain issues — whose major component is getting the right products in front of the customer at the right time — and stretches them out to the last-mile end of the retail spectrum."
Other industry experts focus more on the supply chain's role in the omnichannel process. "The challenge in building out a supply chain in an omnichannel world is how to deal with all the new points of distribution, aligning the inventory at key places with demand, managing returns, dealing with smaller, more complex orders, and to do this all in a cost effective way", Michael Dart, author of Retail’s Seismic Shift told Supply Chain Dive.
Although it may sound like a tough juggling act, retailers are determined to get it right this season.
The new ideal, then, is not just having omnichannel capacities, but providing them conveniently to customers all the while saving on shipping costs. If the efforts made are an indicator, they've got a good chance at succeeding.