Press Release

Research Identifies Top 10 ‘Good Practices’ For Multi-Channel Retailing

LONDON, 06 February, 2012

Research by the Cranfield School of Management, conducted in association with Manhattan Associates (NASDAQ: MANH), has identified 10 ‘good practices’ for retailers operating across multiple channels. These suggestions – put together following in-depth interviews with key retail and 3PL players – include ‘Move towards click-and-collect’ and ‘Don’t over-extend your range.’

The research, led by Christina Bekiari in her work towards an MSc at the Cranfield School of Management, and under the supervision of Alan Braithwaite, visiting professor in Supply Chain Management at Cranfield School of Management and executive chairman at LCP Consulting, concluded that retailers are making some great strides in their quest to offer a truly multi-channel service, but all, without exception, still have a long way to go before they can claim their multi-channel operations are fully optimised. The research also found that, although businesses face similar challenges, there is a wide divergence of opinion on how to deal with them. For example, one major area of dispute is whether products and offers should be consistent throughout all channels. While many want to present a consistent offering, opponents maintain that web channels should be treated differently to others because they provide opportunities to extend ranges and trial new lines.

Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director at Manhattan Associates, commented, “What seems clear from this research is that many retailers and 3PLs are unprepared on a technology and process level to take on the challenges of the multi-channel environment. Without a significant amount of agility in the supply chain and a singular focus on achieving cross-channel operational and service excellence, many organisations will simply find it very difficult to meet the twin goals of margin enhancement and service improvement.”

The 10 top tips for multi-channel retailing are:

  1. Always have complete stock visibility – nothing else matters if a company cannot see what stock it has and where it is. 
  2. Be clear on the customer proposition – this will ensure that all processes are focused on achieving the right goals.
  3. Integrate multi-channel systems – all channels are linked, via the customer, so it’s important that an organisation links them in the back-office as well. 
  4. Promote click-and-collect – this requires the physical integration of channels, but enables companies to gain more value from customers. 
  5. Manage ranges – It’s easy to fill space on a website, but the fulfilment of the endless-aisle can be problematic. 
  6. Build partnerships across the supply base – this will make processes throughout the supply chain easier to execute. 
  7. Prioritise forecasting and planning – without visibility and expectation of what’s coming up, companies will always be playing catch-up. 
  8. Keep similar stock together – don’t split items by channel, it distorts visibility of stock levels and lowers agility. 
  9. One order = One delivery – make sure that every order, regardless of how many items it has, is fulfilled as one delivery. Ultimately, it’s cheaper and better for the customer. 
  10. Maintain price consistency – unless your goal is to drive customers to one channel or another, prices should be kept consistent.

Edited highlights from the research paper and thesis ‘An evaluation of good practice in multi-channel retailing supply chain management’ by Christina Bekiari can be downloaded from http://www.manh.co.uk/resources/thought-leadership/understanding-best-practice-multi-channel-retailing

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About Manhattan Associates, Inc.

Manhattan Associates continues to deliver on its 22-year heritage of providing global supply chain excellence to more than 1,200 customers worldwide that consider supply chain optimisation core to their strategic market leadership. The company's supply chain innovations include: Manhattan SCOPE® a portfolio of software solutions and technology that leverages a Supply Chain Process Platform to help organisations optimise their supply chains from planning through execution; Manhattan SCALE™, a portfolio of distribution management and transportation management solutions built on Microsoft .NET technology; and Manhattan Carrier™, a suite of supply chain solutions specifically addressing the needs of the motor carrier industry. For more information, please visit www.manh.com.

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