The growth of omnichannel commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way that businesses think about supply chains.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw broad changes in consumer behaviours. People switched to online ordering in the face of lockdown conditions which meant businesses had to adapt to a new operating environment. Research by Nielsen found only 9% of the global population were regularly shopping online prior to the pandemic but this figure jumped to 44% by May 2020.
One of the developments since the pandemic began has been the growth of omnichannel commerce. With fewer visits to physical stores, retailers have been seeking to offer the same products to consumers making their purchases online, in one order.
Unlike multi-channel commerce – where there are multiple supply chains for different shopping experiences – omnichannel operates just one, and the online catalogue is the same as that used in physical stores. The importance of omnichannel commerce had already been growing before the pandemic, though. In 2019, a study by consultancy McKinsey concluded that omnichannel shoppers represent one-in-three shopping journeys, when both researching a purchase or the actual transaction are taken into consideration.
Since the pandemic started, however, omnichannel commerce has grown in importance, particularly as stores have been forced to close by government restrictions.
Nevertheless, the growth of omnichannel commerce presents businesses with new challenges, particularly when it comes to thinking about supply chains.
Building omnichannel supply chains
Omnichannel commerce requires businesses to think about the speed, complexity and efficiency of their supply chain, particularly as customers expect their orders to be delivered at anytime and anywhere.
An omnichannel supply chain platform should help businesses gain full visibility of processes and should include forecasting capabilities that help with inventory planning and order management. Put simply, businesses operating an omnichannel strategy, need to have a robust supply chain partner that understands the individual needs of your organisation.
For some years now, DP World has been busy investing in technology that can help. Blockchain solutions as outlined in a recent partnership with TradeLens enable companies to cope with the challenges of omnichannel commerce.
The partnership – a blockchain-based digital container logistics platform developed by AP Moller-Maersk and IBM – will accelerate the digitisation of supply chains as DP World aims to connect marine and inland container terminals with feeder companies and logistics divisions. This will help improve operational efficiency with earlier visibility of container traffic, helping retailer partners keep track of their inventory and facilitating their omnichannel strategies.
Through P&O Ferrymasters, DP World has been offering European clients technology that allows for the tracking and tracing of shipments every step of the way, which has proved crucial for omnichannel retailers given changing consumer behaviour during the pandemic. This programme of work also extends well beyond supply chain management.
The launch of Manasah.com – an online marketplace to support local artisans and small businesses launched in partnership with the Dubai Department of Economic Development and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment – during Ramadan to protect people from Covid-19 showed how DP World is helping businesses with e-commerce amid changing consumer patterns.
If the pandemic has fuelled omnichannel adoption, there’s little sign that it will disappear once the coronavirus has run its course. According to Bank of America, 44% of Gen Z-ers and 45% of Millennials are omnichannel shoppers combining in-store and online to shop.
As such, it’s vital that companies continue learning and adapting, according to McKinsey, readjusting their supply chain network as conditions change.
Finding the right partner to help your omnichannel supply chain evolve will be crucial in helping you to meet changing consumer behaviour, particularly as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis. Make sure that you choose a partner that fully understands the challenges facing your business.