Omni-channel Emerging as Top Retail Logistics Issue

December is now upon us and before we know it we’ll be starting off 2014 right, which means it won’t be long until we’re all gathering in San Diego Feb 23rd to 26th for RILA Supply Chain 2014.

Last year in Florida at RILA Logistics 2013, the topic of multi-channel was discussed with 5 related presentations delivered where the challenges of the coming omni-channel revolution were laid down.

RILA Supply Chain 2014 will highlight this ongoing evolution from a discrete multi-channel stream to a full track entitled Omni-channel which includes the 4 interesting presentations identified below:

The Impact of Omni-channel to the Retail Supply Chain & the Total Customer Experience

A panel of leading retailers will discuss and provide a basic introduction of what omni-channel is, the challenges it presents, its growing significance in the marketplace, and a review of the corresponding retail supply chain considerations. The panel will address thought provoking perspectives on the innovative supply chain responses and evolutions that will best support omni-channel business and operational productivity gains. Room 25, Monday Feb 24th, 10:30 am

Speaker(s): Rob Bass, Vice President, Distribution, Best Buy Co., Inc.

Alexis DePree, Senior Director, Distribution Planning, Target Corporation

Leslie Irvin, Director, Wal-Mart Innovations, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

David Sisco, Vice President Retail Marketing, UPS

Moderator: Steve Sigrist, Vice President, Customer Development Operations, Newell Rubbermaid

Brick & Mortar Success Through Breakthrough Omni-channel Fulfillment

Session discusses Wal-Mart’s omni-channel experiences, challenges and future developments, and capabilities through the use of the omni-channel Fulfillment. Room 25, Monday Feb 24th, 2:45 pm

Speaker(s): Leslie Irvin, Senior Director, Wal-Mart Innovation, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Sumit Chandra, Partner, A.T. Kearney

The Sears Omni-channel Journey

The Sears omni-channel journey is focused on cross-functional collaboration, technology, and delivering a “Wow” customer experience. Jeff Starecheski will discuss the challenges and breakthrough thinking that enabled Sears to build a successful omni-channel strategy. Hear how Sears instituted a ship-from-store model that fills a high percentage of product to each customer’s home within 2 days, often next day. Jeff will also provide insight to Sears’ approach to same-day fulfillment capabilities. Room 25, Tuesday Feb 25th, 10:30 am

Speaker(s): Jeff Starecheski, Vice President, Supply Chain Solutions, Sears Holdings Corporation

Turning Your Store into a Fulfillment Center

Top executives from Lowe’s Home Improvement and Belk Department Stores will discuss how these retailers have learned how to ship e-commerce orders from their stores. Hear about critical decisions each have made around operational issues (determining the appropriate number of stores, what CapEx is required, packing standards, the importance of carrier relationships, etc.) and labor issues (finding the best associates to do this complicated process, defining labor standards, determining who gets credit for the sale, payroll ramifications, etc.). Learn how these retailers determine key metrics for the stores and for the Executive team, and how they measure and improve efficiency in order to better serve their customers. Room 25, Tuesday Feb 25th, 1:30 pm

Speaker(s): Debbie Fortnum, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, Belk, Inc.

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All of these look like great sessions being lead by retail practitioners working on the frontline of the omni-channel retail revolution. So why am I suggesting that Omni-channel is now emerging to be the top retail logistics challenge being faced today by retailers?

Well, for evidence one has to look no further than the balance of the #RILAsupplychain 2014 Program where on top of the great Omni-channel track presentations outlined above, five more of the sessions are also Omni-channel related! As a program put together by retail practitioners for retail practitioners there can be no doubt that the issue of omni-channel logistics is top of mind and likely to remain so until this complex challenge is successfully resolved.

On top of the Omni-channel Track, below are the additional sessions incorporating omni-channel themes:

Connecting the Bits: The Networked Company & Operational Excellence

When a company gets its entire global partner ecosystem on the same information page, the operational benefits can be significant. Networked companies have a single version of information related to inventory status, POs, inventory, shipments, payments and documents. And networked supply chains are equipped to rapidly support expansion into new markets and support multi-channel demand. This is not done with hard wired software systems but rather with a new class of cloud technology that looks more like LinkedIn and other social channels that are revolutionizing the retail landscape. This interactive session will feature an executive panel representing a leading apparel brand, a top logistics provider and a technology company, discussing their experiences with the deployment and benefits of emerging multi-enterprise technology platforms. Room 24, Monday February 24th, 10:30 am

Speaker(s): Bill Coxwell, Director, Logistics, VF Corporation

Tom Boike, Vice President, Supplier Management, UPS

Greg Johnsen, Chief Marketing Officer, GT Nexus

Operations Engineering & Real Time System-directed Work Planning Design

This session will focus on the value proposition around Real Time System-directed software. This software assigns work, and monitors its process completion status while continually recalculating remaining work. The real time recalculation of remaining work takes into account open orders, order priorities, picker performance, and MHE flow and capacity status. It is capable of performing over 100,000 calculations every time an associate is assigned new work. Significant performance improvements and overall throughput capacity increases are achieved. Learn about conducting an Operational Engineering Study – typically Step 1 in the software decision logic design process. The session will feature presentations by a leading integrator and two large retailers/distributors with large conventional networks and e-commerce business. Room 28 AB, Monday February 24th, 2:45 pm

Speaker(s): Thomas Bledsoe, Vice President, Distribution, Sally Beauty Supply

Tom McHugh, Director, Supply Chain Systems, CVS Caremark Corporation

Bryan Mayo, Executive Vice President, Software Design, Reddwerks

Achieving Supply Chain Excellence in a Dynamic Era

Retail executives will address their strategies and perspectives about pressing supply chain challenges. The panel discussion will focus on key topics from the 4th annual State of the Retail Supply Chain Report, including: building your omni-channel capabilities, developing your supply chain management talent pool, managing with metrics and analytics, and recognizing emerging challenges. Ballroom 20, Monday, February 24th, 4:15 pm

Speaker(s): Mark Hilborn, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.

Rick Keyes, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain Operations & Manufacturing, Meijer

Mike Robbins, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Target Corporation

Transforming the Distribution Environment

This session will focus on the success achieved by Tory Burch and Neiman Marcus in the transformation of their distribution center environments. Attendees will hear (1) how Tory Burch realigned its infrastructure and processes in order to establish omni-channel distribution for its wholesale and retail customers, and (2) how Neiman Marcus went about the process of site selection, planning, design, and implementation of a new East Coast distribution center. This facility enables the delivery service levels that customers expect of this leading retail luxury brand. Room 28 AB, Tuesday, February 25th, 1:30 pm

Speaker(s): Mike Giresi, Chief Information Officer, Tory Burch

Michael Schlink, Director, Operations, Neiman Marcus

Steve Johnson, Principal, Johnson Stephens Consulting

Mike Rader, Partner, Supply Chain Services, enVista

Consumer Point of View on Omni-channel

Sucharita serves eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals as a leading expert on eCommerce, multichannel retail, consumer behavior, and trends in the online shopping space. She is also a noted authority on technology developments that affect the online commerce industry and vendors that facilitate online marketing and merchandising. In her research, Sucharita covers such consumer-oriented topics as eCommerce forecasting and trends, merchandising best practices, conversion optimization, and social computing in the retail world. She has also authored The State Of Retailing Online a leading industry benchmark publication. Ballroom 20, Tuesday, February 25th, 3:00 pm

Speaker(s): Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research


Suffice it to say that it appears there will likely be at least double the content shared at RILA Supply Chain 2014 on omni-channel than at last year’s RILA Logistics. In fact there may be even more as a number of presentations, which didn’t specifically call out omni-channel in the session description, are on topics where I’d be shocked if omni-channel isn’t raised, especially when the presentations relate to retail inventory management and direct to store receiving just to mention a couple.

From the above I’m sure you can guess which sessions I’ll be attending as no other topic than the rapid emergence of omni-channel is set to define the future state of retail and poses the greatest new challenge retail logisticians have faced in decades.

Look out for one more post from me before RILA Supply Chain 2014 when I’ll share some of my initial comparative analysis on a number of the potential Omni-Commerce retail logistics support options to begin to understand how to most effectively meet the omni-channel challenge.

Until then I wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! In the interim feel free to reach out to me through Twitter @JeffAshcroft or Jeff Ashcroft on LinkedIn with any ideas or comments. Look forward to seeing all of you in just over two months at my favorite logistics event RILA Supply Chain!

Jeff Ashcroft

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