Retail Operations Management In An Omnichannel World
Once upon a time, retail operations management was viewed in a multi-channel way. As a retailer added online sales, for instance, the operations manager would add that channel to their oversight but it was like adding a ball to a juggler’s act — the juggler kept the balls in the air but every ball was a separate unit. An expert would be able to keep the multiple channels functioning but they functioned in their specific channels without much overlap.
Retail doesn’t work like that anymore. Today’s tech-savvy consumer has jumped from channel to channel as they please, so multiple channels don’t mean much as individual paths to a point of sale. People search online and go to the store to examine a product further. People go to the store and compare prices with their phone. The path to a transaction switches lanes rapidly and repeatedly so instead of juggling distinct balls in the air, the operations manager is more like a traffic controller at a busy airport or turnpike.
The job of a traffic controller and an operations manager are similar in the way the task must be approached. Both need to act intelligently, with a comprehensive understanding of the situation and the factors that are changing constantly. The traffic controller is watching a stream of data that changes because the traffic consists of individual vehicles moving as the pilot or driver deems best in the situation.
The retail operations manager is watching a stream of data that includes individual decisions made by shoppers, shipping dates being affected by weather patterns or political upheavals, and more.
As the incoming data is analyzed, the decisions that will keep traffic or operations flowing smoothly become clear. The traffic controller may need to establish detours around an accident so the individual vehicles can reach their various destinations without too much delay. This requires an integrated view of the entire flow of traffic with all the variables.
The retail operations manager also needs to see an integrated view of the entire flow of data throughout the enterprise and across all channels to see what is happening. Irregularities might indicate a need to investigate abnormalities in a particular store to prevent further loss, for example.
ChainDrive Operations Management provides the tools to see store performance, employee productivity, sales, customer activity, inventory, and more in an integrated way that lets retail operations function optimally in an omnichannel world.