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Omnichannel selling is an approach to retail sales that is designed to give the customer seamless brand experiences, whether they’re making a purchase online, over the phone, or inside a store. An omnichannel approach ensures that on the back end, there’s integration between production, distribution, communication, and promotion. Businesses that want to increase their bottom line in the coming years must get on board with omnichannel sales, or they risk being left behind in favor of their competitors. Here's a closer look at omnichannel sales and how businesses can take this next step.

What Does Omnichannel Selling Look Like?

With an omnichannel retail approach, a customer can browse products online and see what is in stock at their local store, order the item online and pick it up in the store the same day. Or, a customer can visit a brick-and-mortar store and the sales representative can access their sales history, both online and in-store, to be better able to assist them.

What Does It Mean to Implement an Omnichannel Supply Chain? 

Implementing an omnichannel supply chain involves the shifting of logistics management to accommodate new sources of sales. Opening up new channels of fulfillment requires a supply chain to be fully functional and optimized. A poorly structured supply chain will not be able to be scaled well when new fulfillment channels are opened. For example, imagine that a brick-and-mortar grocery store begins to offer online shopping and pick up in store. The supply chain must be adjusted and streamlined, so customers don't arrive at the store to find their orders incomplete or missing items. Companies that pursue omnichannel selling initiatives need to sync sales and marketing with IT, procurement, and transportation. The entire process must be as seamless and as automated as possible to avoid mistakes at critical points, all of which boil down to a more consistent brand experience for the customer. 

Things to Consider When Implementing an Omnichannel Supply Chain

Before you dive head-first into the world of omnichannel retail, it's important to consider several things:

Department Support

Any time a business opens another channel of fulfillment, it becomes cross-functional. Your company will require support from several departments to achieve this singular goal, and it's critical to define the role that each department has.

Necessary Upgrades

All of your company's processes, from procurement to distribution, will need to be examined for flaws or weaknesses in the supply chain. Once any potential issues are identified and resolved, you'll need to integrate the new channel. This often requires companies to upgrade to support new demands, which may mean replacing your company's ERP software, hiring new employees, and more. When hiring new staff to accommodate new channels of fulfillment, make sure you're hiring the right people. You want to be sure that your new staff members are on board with your vision and have the skills and dedication necessary to make it happen.

A Focus on Customer Experience

As you shift your logistics management for omnichannel selling, it's important to remember that the reason for making these changes is to provide a better shopping experience to your customers. Customer expectations have evolved with the advent of technology, and for customers to have a positive experience with your brand, you must not only meet their expectations but exceed them. Keeping the customer experience at the forefront of every decision you make as you shift your logistics management can help you reach your goal more easily.

A Positive Outlook

It's also critical that your company and its staff see the changes as an opportunity to embrace new business avenues. Omnichannel selling has the potential to reach customers that have never shopped with your brand before, and it can expand your brand awareness exponentially. Maintain a positive outlook on the changes even when they become frustrating or overwhelming and understand that the payoff will be well worth the investment of effort.

Although shifting your logistics management for omnichannel selling can seem like a challenging undertaking, major brands are moving in this direction, and if you don't, there's a good chance you'll be left behind. Evolving your business to meet customer expectations is crucial to the success and continuation of your company.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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