At the 2015 WERC Annual Conference for Logistics Professionals, Holden Bale, retail expert at Kurt Salmon, hosted a panel with Josh Mayer, director of supply chain engineering at Belk, on omnichannel order management.

What insights did you share?

Several retailers have already implemented the first wave of omnichannel fulfillment capabilities, including ship-from-store and click-and-collect. But the most innovative retailers are now looking to optimize their omnichannel order management systems to transform their business. The benefits? An improved customer experience and a boost to bottom-line growth.

What resonated most with the audience?

While there is near industry-wide consensus around the importance of implementing an omnichannel order management system, retailers often overlook or underestimate the complexities associated with maintaining a distributed order management system. Further, many don’t appreciate the impact an order management system will have across the entire organization—from merchandising and finance to marketing and, of course, supply chain. Retailers need to be prepared to support cross-department communication, as operationalizing an order management system is dependent on this capability.

What new thinking emerged?

While there is urgency around operationalizing an omnichannel order management system, best practices for doing so are still emerging. However, be cognizant that there will never be a fully developed one-size-fits-all solution. No two retailers are alike, so executives must work to identify and implement the omnichannel order management solutions that work best for them.

But the job isn’t done once an omnichannel order management system is online. Instead, in order to manage profitability over time, retailers need to ask themselves how they can continually leverage diverse data sources within their system.

The road to an omnichannel-enabled supply chain is long, but it’s doable. And implementing and maintaining a distributed order management system is a necessary step.

14 May 2015