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Data and AI

Implementing the framework: benefits from best practices

Experience reveals that success requires knowledge assets, proven skills and methodologies, process automation and simplification, proper governance combined with data quality management tools and advanced applications with embedded AI, integrated across the end-to-end supply chain.

Developing an omnichannel way of thinking and operating requires transformation, often involving some degree of trial and error. By adopting a set of best practices, organizations can accelerate the learning curve and avoid costly mistakes. A digital twin for the supply chain enables projection of the transformation outcomes, both process and financial-wise, to validate the assumptions and justify the transformation effort.

Best practices apply to all areas of the omnichannel framework.

Align, integrate, and streamline operations across all routes to market
Best practices in integrating processes and streamlining operations across channels target smooth and seamless collaboration, giving companies the ability to employ efficient strategies in challenging situations, gain confidence and speed in processing and high resilience to crises

Sets of assets such as well-described process flows, knowledge gathered across industries and applied-working-instructions aligned across channels enable proper integration and reduction of touches and interaction between functions. These ingredients impact performance – they ensure an excellent customer experience and an increase in revenue by driving repeat business.

Standardize the order intake and return processes
For example, order intake best practices dictate comprehensive automation and limiting order placement options. An obvious step is to eliminate orders placed by phone or e-mail due to their high inaccuracy rate. Similarly, return process best practices should seek automation and simplification.

Setting a clear return process by implementing financial thresholds, approval workflows, robotic process automation (RPA) for system processing, and automated transport booking can tremendously improve customer experience. Such measures will improve predictability and ultimately, stock availability.

Change the mindset and approach to data
Acquiring and streamlining data from every tier of distribution, logistics and supply underpins any effort to optimize customer experience and overall corporate performance. However, data from all supply chain nodes – upstream or across all downstream channels – is often late, low quality, and lacks consistency. Best practices in this area recommend applying centralization, establishing one supply chain data team, and introducing proper governance with measurable KPIs and service-level agreements.

Managing data quality ongoing through cleansing and deduplication – especially when the products are highly customizable and vary across channels – is also an applicable best practice. The related technology best practice is investing in channel data management or demand signal management to handle data quality issues.


Select the software application infrastructure
Selecting the right set of digital accelerators is a complex undertaking, and one area where best practices can immensely help align technology choices and deployment timing with the process and organizational transformation. Applications enabling touchless, super-fast, highly reliable, low-error order processing and inventory allocation, seamlessly connected to transportation capabilities, can ensure the fulfillment reliability and essential pace for an exceptional customer experience. Processes and applications are intrinsically linked.

Technology plays a vital role in omnichannel optimization, facilitating more efficient, effective, streamlined and collaborative processes. Brands must recognize that different channels may have other procedures and use different entry points for orders into the supply ecosystem. The applications supporting these processes across the entire supply chain must be able to accommodate the differences. The equally important point is that the applications should provide automation capabilities and a harmonized and enjoyable user experience across all channels.

In addition, with the expectation of fast response to challenges and the large amounts of data generated and captured both upstream and downstream, brands should seek applications with proven, scalable embedded AI. Brands should examine their existing solutions and decide whether to scale the most efficient ones or invest in new solutions. The final step is to evolve to an omnichannel customer experience platform with an integrated and standardized approach across channels.

Identify the skill sets required to support an omnichannel strategy.
Best practices can offer advice on technology selection. However, having the right technology is not enough. Best practices indicate that companies should also have the right skill set to deploy, operate and manage the technology. Involving the right talent is paramount to be able to both integrate and collaborate. There are a few general skills that companies should look for: understanding dependencies between channels, operating in the broader, cross-channel context, having technology savviness and being entirely focused on the customer.