Issue 2

Retailers Must Meet Millennial Shoppers'

Need for Fulfillment Speed with Stealth Inventory Management 


To meet the digitally-native expectations of trillion-dollar Millennial shoppers, retailers must expand inventory management beyond allocating and replenishing store shelves. Today's customer wants their products quickly and conveniently. Achieving precise, product-specific availability requires the ability to forecast not just demand, but where and how that demand will materialize based on behaviors.

Gartner Research Director Tom Enright joins OneView Commerce Chief Operating Officer Linda Palanza to discuss how a powerful new perspective on inventory and movements is essential to evolve from simply reacting to store demand to truly mastering product demand. Distributed order management (DOM) creates a customer-driven system that continuously reconfigures and allocates inventory based on real-time customer behavior (detailed POS transactions, including quantities purchased and returned by channel, location, and method) rather than historical allocation trends. Learn about the importance that the future of DOM plays in determining unified commerce success.

Retail Industry Outlook 2017: Supply Chain Capabilities Needed to Transition From Multichannel to Unified Retail Commerce

  • Thomas O'Connor | Mike Griswold | Tom Enright | Simon Bailey
  • 6 February 2012

Retailers are moving from an ad hoc approach to cross-channel shopping toward a unified experience that strategically links any consumer across any channel at any time. This research identifies what this trend means for retail operations and recommends the key steps supply chain leaders must take.

Key Challenges

  • Consumers are merging their shopping behavior across mobile, web and stores, placing pressure on supply chain leaders in retail that have underinvested in foundational operations.
  • Digital business is changing the role of the store, requiring supply chain and operations leaders to rethink how physical selling space is utilized.
  • Margins are pressured by growing competition from online-only merchants and the success of discounters across the retail spectrum from specialty fashion to grocery.
  • Supply chain roles are becoming more strategic to retailers, requiring a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining top supply chain talent.


Supply chain leaders looking to keep pace with current operations trends and innovation in retail should:

  • Align your organization's structure with how consumers shop, by establishing channel-agnostic teams to replace existing channel-based operations silos.
  • Set up an integrated, cross-functional working group spanning supply chain, planning, store operations and merchandising, to identify opportunities for the optimization of supply-chain-related store tasks, including order fulfilment from store.
  • Invest in partnerships with key suppliers, identified through segmentation analysis, to help counter margin pressures through collaborative joint value creation activities.
  • Define and build demand-planning capabilities that extend beyond the store through assessment of current state maturity, identification of competency gaps and implementation of an improvement roadmap.


Historically, retailers have operated in channels. They set up their supply chain to support a network of stores. They built new, separate operations as they began to service the online consumer. Today, little has changed. Many retailers still operate their digital and physical retail teams in a siloed manner with little incentive to provide active support across channels. But, consumers take a different perspective.

Inventory Management a Game-Changer for Omnichannel Success

Every day is a juggling act for multichannel retailers who need to quickly fulfill customer orders for items purchased online, in-store, via supplier warehouses and through other channels. Today's shoppers expect exact information on availability for the item they want, and the answer better be "in stock and ready to ship".

Unfortunately, most retailers are struggling to get it right, with their outdated inventory management systems that were not purpose-built to provide the continuous, cross-channel real-time inventory data necessary to make a real omnichannel organization tick. Lack of cross-channel integration prevents retailers from reacting quickly in answer to fluid sales data and fast-changing trends. Nothing erodes the online shopper's experience more than being allowed to place an item in their shopping cart only to learn during checkout that it's not available.

Real-time inventory information and the ability to make allocation and replenishment "smart" has become critical to enable retailers to react to not just what your customer wants to buy, but where they want to buy it. An open, distributed supply chain model that includes all stores, distribution centers, warehouses, and vendor inventories provides a single, global view of brand inventory that can then react to customer behaviors and expectations. Learn how an effective inventory management system optimizes opportunities and avoids missteps.

The Digital Natives are Restless

The digital natives are restless. Millennials (1976-2004) cut their teeth on digital technology, shaping their strong preference for speed and convenience. Their sheer numbers and purchasing power make them a force for retailers to reckon with. This largest living generation numbers 1.8 billion globally, and they will outpace Baby Boomer earnings by 2018. So the time is now for retailers to prepare to meet Millennials' demand for a seamless shopping experience and offer them options that fit their lifestyle (caveat: 7 out of 10 Millennials think it's their responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience.)

The option to buy online and pick up in the store speaks to Millennial shoppers, offering them convenience, speed, choice and clarity about what they want to buy and where it is most convenient to buy it. It also offers the retailer the ideal opportunity to engage with Millennials in the store. Learn how a weak inventory management system can sabotage buy online/pick up in store and erode a strong service brand.

The Omnichannel Inventory Dilemma

According to a recent global study, out of 82 percent of in-store shoppers who experienced stock-outs in the past year, 65 percent of them took their business elsewhere or did not buy at all. In order to meet today's rigorous demands for order fulfillment, and protect margins by optimizing inventory availability, retailers (and store associates) must have access to real-time inventory status across the entire omnichannel enterprise. Learn how transforming stores into "warehouses" speeds efficient order fulfillment and replenishment, even in a mixed ecosystem of corporate and franchised stores.