These 4 Key Elements of a Multichannel Strategy Can Impact Your Supply Chain

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Going online does not just mean using desktops and laptops anymore — it is anytime, anywhere connectivity afforded by tablets, smartphones and smartwatches. Our more connected world has unsurprisingly changed the way we shop. As a direct result of exponential growth in online spaces and with numerous ways to purchase nowadays, retailers are taking a second look at how they can grow more efficient in serving cross-channel shoppers. The multichannel customer segment is here to stay and will only grow more prevalent in the future. Retailers need to implement best practices in multichannel strategies to better serve customers. This article takes a look at how a multichannel strategy impacts a business’ supply chain by the following four key elements.

Optimal fulfilment

Although consumers shop and buy products in multiple ways from their desktop, phone to in-store, increasingly, variables like shipping cost, in-store pickup or delivery time impact the process. The challenge for retailers is to anticipate consumer demand for various shopping services and create the capabilities to meet it.

Try evaluating your supply chain to reduce shipping times — behemoth Amazon is setting the bar high with their overnight delivery option becoming the industry norm. For longer delivery times, create value by offering a free delivery option.

Returns and the reverse supply chain

A major barrier to purchase online is the lack of a clear return policy. A recent study shows that 80% of consumers would be converted to buy if the policy allowed for both in-store returns and free shipment back to the retailer.

Consumers do not accept the channel barriers that many retailers still have in place. Retailers without a robust reverse supply chain are vulnerable to higher costs and not to mention being overrun with returns. By applying the cost of the return back to the buying team, it creates smarter performance targets for internal teams and an incentive to address the problem to reduce returns.

Try adopting the buy anywhere, return anywhere policy in a way that is serviceable for your business and enjoy better inventory control.


20% of retailers still have a supply chain model that doesn’t have inventory visibility across all channels. For the 80% that do, they still lack the integrations necessary to use this meaningfully. Fulfilment strategies cannot be optimised in an isolated approach to inventory stock. This restricts retailers in understanding the true demand for products or fulfilling orders from any channel. As retailers launch new ways for consumers to purchase, fulfilment tasks become more complex.

Try gaining real visibility and transfer capabilities by ensuring all inventory and fulfilment systems are integrated across all channels. Not only can you make sure that all unsold inventory stock can be used to fulfil the demand from any channel, but the data collected can create invaluable insights and better inventory control.


Even though the majority of consumers in the developed countries conduct research online first, not all retailers list their widest product assortments online. Retailers need to understand how their customers search and anticipate what they need compared to merely responding to what they buy.

Try positioning your assortment offering across channels to reflect how consumers search and purchase.

To know how a multichannel strategy impacts a business’ supply chain, retailers must determine customer expectations of multichannel experiences. Each retailer needs to look at these four key elements to determine where the strategy is going to take them because overall supply chain strategies and approaches will be different for every merchant.

Retailers are constantly facing a balancing act within their supply chain. The days of the exclusively brick-and-mortar channel is gone. Retailers need a clear vision throughout their supply chain to cope with the multiple methods and combinations of ways consumers shop — all while achieving customer satisfaction in the most successful way to your business.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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