By Steve Warren, Fifth Gear
Delivering a cross-channel shopping experience is, quite simply, an issue of system and process integration. The goal is to enable purchasing, pickup, and returns through any sales channel at any time.
This sort of integration can be incredibly complex. Brick-and-mortar inventory management requires vastly different processes from online, catalog, and call center channels. Both types call for retail basics, such as sales forecasting and safety stock, but the direct channel is a store that never closes. In many cases your online store competes with your physical locations for the same pool of inventory. While your stores are replenished in weekly batches, your website and call centers take a constant stream of orders directly from the warehouse. To accomplish cross-channel competence, you need sophisticated merchandise planning and analysis (MP&A) software, integrated cross-channel order management software, and well-trained staff.