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Conclusion – September 2015

THE RISE IN omnichannel retail is sure to put more onus on getting the retail craft around operations and logistics right. It’s no good having a state-of-the-art website, if the promises that it sells are not delivered. To use an analogy from the airline industry, we’re moving from a world of hub-to-hub journeys to point-to-point.

This is intriguing in itself. Omnichannel may often be portrayed as a front-end world of whizzy digital technologies, but for all Amazon is promising parcels delivered by drone, it currently sends out its parcels via the mail and its network of local van drivers. It’s a reminder that much of digitally driven commerce doesn’t take place in cyberspace, but out in the real world.

This requires real shifts in thinking on the part of retailers. No longer can companies send big boxes of goods to stores on the high street, safe in the knowledge that it’s the job of sales staff to shift this merchandise. Instead, retailers send items direct, to lockers, to stores set up for click and collect. Furthermore, as we’ve seen, companies have to deal with demands not just for next-day delivery but, within metropolitan areas, next-hour delivery – and companies need to do this while turning a profit.

Our research suggests retailers are rising to the challenges here, but there’s certainly no room for complacency. Customers aren’t going to become less demanding, and retailers need to ensure that back-end systems are robust and support the business. Otherwise, no amount of marketing pizzazz will hide the fact that promises are going undelivered.

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