Omni-channel fulfilment is nothing new; grocery store owners would provide an instant delivery service before supermarkets changed our shopping habits. The challenge in today’s retail environment is the number of products consumers expect to be available instantly; this has fuelled the construction of behemoth distribution centres and corresponding distribution networks.
These beasts used to provide a relatively simple goods in/out service to retail outlets on a push demand basis with stock profiles dictating what was sold in-store. The shift to click & collect and same day delivery means that the distribution network is being pulled apart and this requires a far more sophisticated and integrated system.
A traditional operations manager will understand the basic mechanics of running a warehouse but the rapid growth of home delivery and click & collect has meant many businesses and individuals are learning on the job. It is no surprise that there have been headline failures because there is no text book solution for an ever evolving question.
External expertise can provide valuable ideas and insight, these ‘qualified’ individuals will often be working for your competition who are putting the pressure on you having implemented a successful fulfilment operation. Consultants will generally come in with a viewpoint and a model to ‘fit’ your business and do not have the front line hands on experience. As a headhunter I speak to a diverse range of people who are at the forefront of omni-channel fulfilment and as such understand the different approaches being taken.
If omni-channel is something your business needs then bringing in the right experts from the start to mastermind your strategy will save you both financially and operationally in the long run.
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