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‘Take a better informed view of the multichannel landscape’

Alek Adamski, Associate partner at retail consultancy Kurt Salmon.

With the top grocers such as Tesco and Asda taking their clothing sales outside their stores network even more seriously and online sales from the likes of Asos and John Lewis continuing to storm ahead, the pressure is intensifying for fashion retailers and brands to up their multichannel game.

As such, there is a real need to take a better informed, end-to-end view of the multichannel landscape, which is clearly here to stay.

While there has been a lot written and much investment made into the front end in terms of the functionality and content of selling online, the key to managing a profitable multichannel operation lies in how to scale for future growth from a supply chain perspective, so orders can be fulfilled to the exact requirement of customers.

Currently, many retailers try to fulfil single-pick multichannel sales from a supply chain designed to supply stores with multiple units shipped at a time. This model will be impractical when sales increase and expand internationally; the volumes will demand a different execution.

The challenge for many, therefore, is not how to make a profit in multichannel but, at least for now, how to minimise the losses that multichannel fulfilment engenders.

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