In the past few years, omnichannel shopping has become the new normal. Omnichannel retail puts the customer in the center of focus, rather than the product. Distinctions between channels disappear, and the boundaries between different sales and marketing channels become a unified whole. A single view of the customer and their needs emerges.

In the United States, Europe, and China, for example, online shopping has increased at an astonishing rate. This requires a new supply chain network approach in order to deliver fast and impeccable service. More and more people are purchasing items online and expect speedy delivery times. To keep an omnichannel presence, stores are working to expand their online offerings, open brick-and-mortar stores, and push direct-to-consumer business online and in physical stores. Social media is also another big move to keep an omnichannel presence within this new norm. This does not only apply to apparel stores, but all online stores.

The issue that companies around the world are facing is the new emphasis of speed, complexity, and efficiency on their supply chains. Research has shown that companies who succeed with excellent customer service and fast delivery times have more customer loyalty and happier customers. Traditionally in the past, websites did not offer same-day delivery, which meant less stress for their supply chains. However, since Amazon has started offering same-day delivery, other companies are trying to step up their game. Consequences of speeding up the delivery speed include more stress on the supply chain, more expenses, and increased fulfillment costs.

For companies to provide an omnichannel supply chain, there are seven key building blocks that they must consider and achieve: 1) Network and ecosystem of the future; 2) Operating model and change management; 3) Digitization and process automation; 4) Customer-centric supply chain strategy; 5) E2E planning and information flow; 6) Node operations and; 7) Transportation and LSP management. The strategy that stands out the most is putting the customer’s needs first.

Businesses need to focus and learn what the customer wants, but they also realize that one size does not fit all. What the customer wants today is much different then what he or she wanted in the past, and each customer might expect something different compared to other customers. Looking into the future and trying to gain an understanding of what will shape the upcoming market is another way to stay on top of the customer’s needs and wants. For each customer group, different services should be prioritized so that everyone gets what is best for them. Businesses also need to focus on the speed of implementation and efficient use of resources, which often means seeking partnerships and sharing infrastructure.

All of this means that businesses need to focus on a newer, smarter, and more innovative supply chain model in order to provide their customers with the most satisfaction. This will also turn businesses into truly end-to-end omnichannel businesses. Businesses around the globe have to start taking this approach and start adjusting to changing trends, options, and customer expectations.

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