Omnichannel Solutions for Apparel Retailers: Find the Right Fit for Your Business

Finding the Right Omnichannel Strategy for Apparel Retailers

Apparel retailers and suppliers are being pressured on all sides, and the need to get omnichannel fulfillment right is top of mind. An omnichannel approach without an omnichannel fulfillment strategy can quickly expose weaknesses in your operations and allow profit margin to trickle away.

Many are asking the question “what is the right answer?” With so many options, they want a simple answer, a golden scenario that ticks all the boxes.

Why is an omnichannel approach important for apparel retailers?

While an omnichannel approach may seem complex and difficult to achieve, it is still often the best way to ensure you are optimizing your efforts efficiently — and truly placing consumers at the heart of the process.

An omnichannel shopping experience may be more complex for retailers, but it’s a fundamentally more positive and responsive one for consumers, making shopping options seamless, whether from a browser, mobile app, or in store. Consumers are generally focused on your brand and your products — they only become conscious of gaps in your channels when they have a bad experience.

The more integrated your channels become, the better the shopping experience. And the more efficient, profitable, and sustainable your processes will be. 

Is there a single correct omnichannel solution?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to implementing an omnichannel solution for your apparel business. Too much depends on individual operational models for a single solution to work for everyone. There are just too many variables. An apparel manufacturer with stores across a city that relies heavily on imports will require a very different solution than a manufacturer on the outskirts of a city without any stores.

Your responsiveness and flexibility, the way you use real estate in what are increasingly expensive urban locations, and the way you deploy labor across your operations are all highly personal pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

If you aspire to have your operations work effectively as a single ecosystem to gain maximum efficiencies, it’s essential to consider your operations as a whole.

What does successful omnichannel integration look like?

Your ultimate goal with an omnichannel approach is connectedness. Simply operating with multiple channels, without a clear plan to coordinate them, can lead to increasing complexity and separateness. You need to tie it all together with digital connections. The more connected your supply chain is, the more you are operating with a single system, instead of juggling several in parallel.

Automation can be many things, but successful modern automation typically includes three key elements: robotics, AI, and data. Integrating all three makes possible the digital structure necessary to understand your operations more clearly and manage them more effectively.

Once that digital thread is available, you can tailor solutions to your specific operational setup and business objectives.

Accurate inventory handling, in and out

Inventory management is a priority for any business. You can’t expect to be at your best if you are not working with a single clear view of what you have in stock. And given the waste that most returns systems can accrue, you need to prioritize that items are picked accurately, handled carefully, and (if returned) reintegrated quickly and seamlessly.

Automated picking solutions such as Dematic’s Cross Belt Sorter  and Pouch Sorter will help to do exactly this. The integration of Autonomous Mobile Robots increases that potential for flexibility even further. Answering the question “Which of these fit your needs best?” can be tricky. You need the right insights and expertise to decide the best solution for your particular mix of stores, warehouses, and fulfillment centers.

Optimize your footprint

No matter where you are, you need to know you’re making the very best use of your operating space. Solutions like Goods-to-Person Picking Stations and AutoStore™ Storage and Retrieval Systems are tailor made to minimize the required footprint, whether that’s in large warehouses or compact urban hubs.

How do the systems know how to do this? With your data.

Data-led software

Your software is what stitches it all together and makes sure you know exactly where everything is. Getting returns back on shelf for sale quickly is vital — up to 80% of returned goods are likely to be reordered within 72 hours. It’s software that tracks those returns and makes sure new reorders are processed in a timely fashion.

Dematic Software is designed to give you exactly that visibility and control within your individual operations to make it possible to build a strong, reliable supply chain execution system that stretches across multiple sites.

A powerful combination

Robotics, AI, and data are powerful in their own right, but the compound benefits of bringing them all together are huge. For instance, integrating your physical stores as distribution and delivery nodes can cut fulfillment costs by up to 90%. 

Achieving successful, efficient omnichannel operations is something that requires automation. It cannot be worked out manually. And no off-the-shelf system can provide an instant solution. But mapping out a tailored strategy that is an ideal fit for your ecosystem can give you that truly integrated omnichannel operation — maximizing your profits, increasing your flexibility and efficiency, and helping you operate more sustainably.

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