From the perspective of the consumer, an omnichannel shopping experience is seamless and easy. She can buy what she wants, whenever and wherever she likes. And she can pick it up at a store, or have it delivered to her home – even the next day.
But for retailers and vendors, deploying a seamless, omnichannel experience can be a logistical nightmare that involves the timely delivery of the right stockkeeping unit, in the right color and in the right size to the customer.
Companies such as Liaison Technologies have developed platforms aimed at making the retailer’s job a bit easier. Liaison offers retailers and vendors cloud-based integration and data management solutions where product data (including sku’s, size, color, etc.) can be accessed “across the entire supply chain, and in real time,” said Rob Consoli, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Liaison.
“We’re in a great position to support omnichannel and can help facilitate the challenges companies face,” Consoli said.
Consoli said Liaison’s platforms can serve as a “data translator” between a host of global manufacturers and their retail partners. Solutions also include streamlining operations. In a case study involving surf brand O’Neill Europe, Liaison helped the retailer pare down and integrate the 50 or so inventory management systems it had into a single electronic data interchange platform.
“Making sure the right product was shipped to the right customer at the right time was almost impossible to forecast,” the O’Neill case study noted. “This meant that, since customers couldn’t always get access to the most popular lines because they weren’t in stock, an untold number of sales were being lost. Even worse, there was a potential risk of overstocking unpopular lines, which, if they didn’t sell, had to be returned at further cost to all involved.”
To stop the bleeding of the bottom line, the company consolidated its supply chain and the platforms that manage it. O’Neill is now also tracking sales trends from a single platform, which informs the sales team sooner — giving them time to react.
Consoli also noted that one area of growth has been with smaller-sized manufacturers and suppliers. As the retail market has become more competitive, companies are sourcing more niche products from smaller suppliers. “But these smaller manufacturers often don’t have the expertise with data management that larger companies do — so that’s where we step in,” Consoli said.