The Exponential Growth of Omni-Channel


In many fields, technological advances bring focus and simplification. The exponential growth of e-commerce and omni-channel retail, however, has done quite the opposite when it comes to distribution centers and material handling. Conversations have become increasingly complex, solutions more varied—and the timeline faster than ever.

“Before, there certainly was more predictability,” said Kris Bjorson, international director, retail e-commerce and distribution, Jones Lang LaSalle. “Now, with inventory strategies, people are really pushing the envelope in how they get the product out to customers. E-commerce and omni-channel are now trying to evolve into a same-day business versus a next-day or two-day or, years ago, a three-day business. That changes everything…. But we still say if you have 10 retailers in the room, you can find three who are really committed to where they’re going and seven that will keep on studying it…. Everybody is finding new ways to get products to consumers every day. ”

If any consistency is to be found at all, it could be in the way supply chain and logistics professionals are responding to such retail trends. In order to stay in front of the curve— rather than caught in the midst of the bend— industry representatives are demonstrating some common behaviors.

1. Working to understand new demands.

Omni-channel retail ideally means a seamless experience for the customer, whether shopping online, in a brick-and-mortar store or via a mobile device. There’s a growing expectation of being able to buy anything anywhere—and to have it shipped right away.

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– By Fiona Soltes