Seven Signs Your Retail Business Needs an Omni-channel Makeover

Makeover
Are your retail customers finding you less attractive lately? Consider your position on the seven signs shared below and you may decide your retail business needs an omni-channel makeover!

This is not just an idle suggestion we’re making as the omni-channel retail buzz is quickly becoming a roar and with good reason.

Not since the advent of price tags, cash registers and the ubiquitous apparel hanger has there been a retail industry innovation poised to create such major change. Continue reading…

Entering Era of the Endless Store

EndlessStore

Those in the know in online retail have been leveraging dropship vendors to create expanded ‘endless aisle’ assortments for a number of years now.

Through the ongoing development of the Matrix Retail approach it’s now become apparent a new reality is emerging best described simply as the ‘Endless Store.’

Just as an ‘endless aisle’ expands assortments well beyond the current store and retailer stocked web assortments, creating the ‘Endless Store’ connects and extends the bricks & mortar and virtual environments within which retailers operate. The potential for dramatically improved customer service and functional development of a unified retail customer experience is now within reach of every retailer. Continue reading…

Exploring the Eight Layers of Matrix Retail

The age of Matrix Retail is already upon us and the only question to ask is will you acknowledge, understand, embrace, engage and tune all of the components of your company’s presence in the retail eco-system?

Or, will you choose to simply ignore them, continue in discrete multi-channel / abomni-channel mode and watch your competitors employ Matrix Retail methods to delight your customers, then dominate, devastate and ultimately destroy your business?

On a more positive note, we hope you opt for the former as the concept of Matrix Retail aims to help you bring about a state of zen awesomeness and retail customer joy as your business prepares to accelerate and break the e-commerce sound barrier.

Depicting something as pervasive and all encompassing as today’s real world digitally enabled retail environment is a tall order (especially for a graphically challenged logistics dude) but the above is my best representation to date of the eight layers of Matrix Retail which need to be enabled, interconnected and then tuned to fully deliver what I call ‘the logistics of customer experience‘. Continue reading…

Matrix Retail: The Logistics of Customer Experience

matrix

At a previous NRF Shop.org Summit I saw a keynote address by Jamie Nordstrom on trends he saw coming in the online retail business. During his talk Jamie said there was a new dynamic emerging, people were describing using words like multi-channel and omni-channel. However in his view these words were not fully capturing the changes he saw coming in retail and a new word was needed, ‘maybe polychannel or something like that’.

After the presentation I had a quick meet and greet with Jamie in which I told him how much his presentation had resonated with me based on my past senior department store retail experience at Hudson’s Bay Company. I then said to him that I think I know the word he was looking for to describe the new dynamic and that was Matrix Commerce. His reaction was immediate and visceral ‘Yes, that’s it! Have you trademarked it?’ Continue reading…

Breaking the E-Commerce Sound Barrier with Matrix Retail!

BOOM!

What was that noise?

Someone just broke the e-commerce sound barrier!

In the third quarter of 2014 Williams-Sonoma’s e-commerce sales represented 51.5% ($587 million) of total company sales overtaking their store sales ($566 million) for the first time!

Even more importantly this increase is not due to offsetting reductions in store sales with the $566 million in store sales representing an increase of 4.8% year over year for the quarter. Continue reading…

Could a New Pallet Be the Starting Point for More Sustainable Supply Chains?

A bold statement perhaps, but one borne out of long standing frustration with the slow if not stagnant forward movement towards implementing more sustainable supply chains.

In 1985 I established my first retail store cardboard recycling initiative which not only was good for the environment, but was also a financially lucrative initiative saving the Hudson’s Bay Company $100’s of thousands of dollars annually at that time.

However as more companies came on board such programs, the savings component disappearred; as in the case of cardboard, widespread recycling drove the amount recyclers would pay into the ground due to the resulting oversupply of cardboard.

Fortunately when it comes to the potential for new sustainability initiatives such as lighter composite pallets versus wood pallets and the associated carbon credits, we are only in the early days of such programs and the ability to both monetize both potential savings opportunities while at the same time reducing your company’s carbon footprint is now. Continue reading…

Expect MORE from Your Third Party Logistics Provider!

Contrary to what many procurement professionals may think, all third party logistics providers are not created equal.

And as retailers are pulled further and faster into the omni-channel future the need for advanced third party logistics providers will only continue to increase.

The very nature of omni-channel means getting closer to the customer and when it comes to logistics this couldn’t be more true.

Products will actually need to be deployed closer to the end consumer in order to deliver rapidly and meet customer needs whether to the home, store, office, lockerbox or pick up centre.

Individual retailers and e-tailers will find themselves challenged to put such a network in place, and even those who attempt to do so will find they don’t have enough volume in regional centres to justify the automated fulfillment systems required to most rapidly and cost effectively pick, pack and ship both customer and store orders. Continue reading…

Sharing Kevin O’Leary’s Omni-Channel Epiphany!

Recently I attended the Retail Council of Canada’s STORE Conference and to be honest when I heard Kevin O’Leary was speaking, all I expected to hear from him was a funny and entertaining talk.

This advance expectation was rapidly confirmed when he started by saying that his CBC co-host Amanda Lang was definitely the best looking communist on television! But little did I know that the balance of his talk would represent one of the most interesting dissertations on omni-channel I’ve heard to date!

So insightful were his comments that I made the extra effort to track down the transcript of his session to share with you all what I’m calling, ‘Kevin O’Leary’s Omni-Channel Epiphany‘. Continue reading…

Is it Time for the Widespread Adoption of Composite Pallets in Canada?

Millions of pallets are built and used in the supply chains of Canada every year and so any innovation around these pallets can have a significantly positive and far reaching impact on overall logistics and supply chain performance.

The introduction of composite pallets is just such an innovation and in my humble opinion they are poised to be a major catalyst for supply chain improvements in logistics cost, service and supply chain sustainability.

As I began to research the use of composite pallets getting specific information on them, such as current levels of use and other details, was actually difficult. This was due to the fact that in all studies I’ve found to date, they are lumped into the category of plastic pallets even though they are different in some very important ways.

Let’s start by more specifically defining both Plastic and Composite pallets, followed by a quick comparison on some key characteristics.

Plastic pallets refer to pallets made of a thermoplastic polymer, the method of manufacture varies depending on the style and loading requirements, typical processes used include thermoforming, injection molding, and blow molding. The type of the material used is dependent on the manufacturing process and the majority of plastic pallets for the transportation and warehousing of goods are made of non-renewably sourced polyethylene or polypropylene resins.

Composite pallets are made of a reinforced thermosetting polymer (also known as FRP) and are a combination of various elements formed to create a single material. Composites can range in makeup and complexity, from high cost carbon fibre to lower cost bulk molded compound use in electrical applications. The oil or wetting percentage of these composites is very low compared with fossil fuel derived feed stocks for plastic pallets which are 100% tied to the price for a barrel of oil. With pallet materials in general, its about the cost to weight ratio, and this is where composites win hands down over wood, metals, and plastics. The preferred method to manufacture FRP is compression molding. The resins used for a composite pallet can be sourced from either non-renewable petroleum or renewable bio-derived feed-stocks.

PlasticCompositePalletsDefinitionsChart Continue reading…

Emerging Options for Omni-Commerce Logistics Strategy

At SCI Logistics in addition to fulfilling millions of e-commerce orders on an annual basis, we also spend a significant amount of time studying the optimal methods of helping our customers serve consumers in Canada. And by the way, if you’re not already serving online consumers in Canada, you might want to read ‘Looking For Growth in Lean Times? Look North to Canada!‘ to see the opportunity you may be missing!

Every week I’m interacting with more and more e-commerce professionals whose day to day job is coming up with the best methods of delivering Omni-Commerce solutions for their customers.

One thing I can say is there seems to be a lot of angst, confusion, and misinformation out there, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of the best practice options, opinions and trends that seem to be emerging.

MatrixCommerceThose of you who know me are aware of my work in coining and developing the ‘Matrix Commerce‘ concept, however I’m sure you’ll have noted today that I’m using term Omni-Commerce. This is simply a reflection of blunt reality, before any firm can even think of accomplishing a full Matrix Commerce implementation, they and their organizations will have to master and implement the basics of Omni-Commerce logistics. Think of how mountain climbers get to the summit of Mount Everest, the first step in that trek is to get to Base Camp and when it comes to implementing Matrix Commerce in your organization, the first step or Base Camp is to effectively implement Omni-Commerce logistics. Continue reading…

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