The lure of omnichannel has been around for years. What business wouldn’t want a seamless and consistent experience across every channel, from in-store kiosks to mobile apps to call centres to social media channels?

The problem is, creating a seamless omnichannel experience isn’t easy. At the very least, it needs to be powered by a high-performing order fulfilment strategy – and here’s where data integration and analytics come into the picture. They’re essential to the running of order fulfilment; they’re the petrol that fuels the engine. But what does that look like on a more granular level? Here are five reasons why data integration and analytics are essential in omnichannel fulfilment.

Female looking at the inventory in a warehouse

1. Improved visibility and transparency

Let’s be clear. Without integrated data and analytics, delivering an omnichannel experience isn’t feasible. Why? Because to provide customers with consistent experiences, you need accurate and up-to-date inventory data connected across all your different channels. If you don’t, you’re operating in the dark, leaving your inventory management strategy to chance.

Visibility of inventory data is what enables you to optimise your omnichannel offering. It’s what gives you the insight to make your stock agile, meaning you can keep products moving and serve your customers in a more dynamic and responsive way.

In its simplest form, when all your inventory data is integrated, you can identify which channels need stock and then take action to move it to where it needs to be – and you can do it all in real time. Otherwise, you risk stockouts, delays, lost orders and other forms of inefficiency.

Workers unloading boxes from a container

2. Enhanced decision making

This links back to the first point about integration. Data isn’t useful if it’s siloed; it’s only valuable if it’s connected. And when it’s connected, you can interpret it and act on it. It’s about using analytics to uncover patterns and insights to inform decision making.

Take autonomous vehicles. They’re considered a vital part of the future of last-mile delivery. To function correctly, they rely on huge swathes of data from different sources, such as image recognition data, location data, sensor data and weather data.

The technology within the vehicle analyses all this simultaneously and uses it to make decisions that enable the car to choose the best routes before setting off, to signal and make turns at the right time and, ultimately, to drive more safely.

To deliver an optimised omnichannel experience, this level of decision making is required throughout the entire backend system.

Female delivery executive standing next to a delivery van

3. Streamlined order fulfilment

Without visibility of your inventory data, it’s going to be a tough ask to streamline your order fulfilment. But, at the same time, that’s the main priority: getting orders to customers in the most efficient way possible.

Analytics holds the keys to make this happen. It can be used to predict the fastest routes available, where different types of SKUs should be stored within your distribution network, how many vehicles you need for last mile, and so on.

Then there’s the impact of analytics on warehouse operations. How can you reduce order throughput times? How can you increase picking accuracy? These are the questions that analytics helps answer. And the rewards are significant. According to the EU’s report on EU business competitiveness in the global economy, the productivity of companies investing in data-driven innovation and analytics grows approximately 5-10% faster than that of companies not investing.

Female smiling

4. Enhanced customer experience

At its core, omnichannel is about customer experience – and all it takes is a single bad experience to turn customers away. In fact, PwC reports that one in three consumers globally walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

In terms of order fulfilment, a bad customer experience is when there are discrepancies between your different channels. Imagine you’re selling the latest designer shoes. If they’re available to buy on TikTok but not on your website, that’s a poor customer experience. 

There’s stock available, but the customer who chooses to shop via the website, their preferred channel, loses out. They miss the trend, you miss their business and potentially their loyalty.

But when you have all your inventory data integrated and plugged into your order fulfilment systems, you can feed the right information into all your channels. That means no customer loses out, helping you to build brand loyalty.

A customer making payment in a shop

5. Cost efficiency

Finally, there’s the impact on cost. Omnichannel retail isn’t cheap. According to McKinsey, the costs of omnichannel order fulfilment are both “high” and “rising”. The consultancy estimates these at roughly 10-20% of sales.

So, every effort has to be made to reduce these costs and safeguard the bottom line. And the only way to do that is through data. The insight from a connected picture can show you where the cost inefficiencies lie so you can take action. But what does this look like in practice?

Well, a real-time view of inventory can help you see how to increase space utilisation in your warehousing network, or when to offset labour costs during low seasonality. It gives you the insight to see where a change in your operating model can deliver savings.

Data integration and analytics in omnichannel: A necessity, not a luxury

A man working on his laptop inside a warehouse

The message couldn’t be clearer. If you’re looking to build an omnichannel offering, you need integrated data and analytics. An effective order fulfilment system just isn’t feasible without it.

At Maersk, with our integrated logistics capabilities, we can help you make this transition. With a focus on Supply Chain Management, Last Mile Delivery and Warehousing and Distribution, our data integration solutions gives you the connectivity to build the optimised order fulfilment offering that omnichannel demands.

To find out more on data integration and analytics, as well as the other biggest trends in omnichannel logistics, read our eBook: 7 trends that will drive change in omnichannel. And, if you want to see Maersk's approach to omnichannel logistics, visit our landing page.









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