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mHealth & H-Cloud: Article

Harnessing the Power of Online Shopping

The arrival of H&M online comes soon after Zara and GAP opened virtual retail to the UK

The reality is that online sales are becoming too popular for retailers now to treat as a separate entity from other retail channels. The key for retailers, and a major talking point at NG Retail EU Summit currently in process, is trying to achieve truly seamless cross-channel alignment.

This is especially relevant in the week that H&M has launched and made public their online store. The arrival of H&M online comes soon after Zara and GAP opened virtual retail to the UK.

Previously cross-channeling has presented numerous challenges, such as difficulties adapting older systems designed for store-based retailing to online sales as well as issues around managing order information, inventory levels and customer data across multiple channels.

The recession and current economic dip has meant that retailers have moved to lower inventory levels, which has made cross-channeling even more difficult, but has also allowed executives in the industry to rally around topics that can see upward movement industry wide. Executives attending NG Retail EU Summit like IKEA - Paolo Cinelli, CIO, Puma - Markus Birkel, Head of IT, Tesco - Harm Van Weezel, IT Director are all working for developing the increase in the retail sector prior to the Christmas shopping season.

Just because cross-channeling has been more difficult, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It has meant that new IT solutions have been created that can link order management and inventory systems, and provide enterprise-wide, real-time information to those that need it.  In addition, supply chain fulfillment systems are optimizing key processes such as shipping. These increasingly aligned cross-channel supply chains can help retailers improve margins while maximizing their inventory investment and continuing to meet customer service requirements.

When done right, then cross-channeling and can provide a wealth of advantages for businesses. These include increased revenues by using multiple cross-channel capabilities to effectively capture lost sales opportunities, or cross-sell and up-sell opportunities during customer in-store pickup. This could also include improved overall customer satisfaction by offering more services in-store and online, which leads to better customer contact, communications and marketing through improved service options, enhanced personalization and business intelligence.

In short, with lower order and fulfillment costs, companies can improve merchandising and inventory management; streamline fulfillment processes through distributed fulfillment capabilities, implement intelligent order routing and lower costly store-to-store transfers.

More Stories By John Funnell

John Funnell has worked in online media for over ten years, after achieving his First Class BSC Hons Degree (BBC Sponsored), John won Bos 18-21 Princess Trust Entrepeneur of the year at 21, setting up Clean Living Records Ltd (including www.BeatReview.com) with great success having many acts that charted in Europe and Canada. After selling the business John looked for a new challenge and joined GDS International, having a successful career in sales and Delegate acquisition, he worked up to Event Director EMEA, forging contacts with some of the biggest technology names in the world, this lead to John having a lead role in the creation of MeettheBoss.com and MeettheBoss.tv – the worlds largest business IPTV channel. John then took over as Marketing and Communications Director and ran a multifaceted global Marketing team for GDS International in New York, Sydney, Kuala Lumper and the UK.. John joined Global in 2011 with the challenge of supporting its growth by developing a solid Marketing foundation through various Digital, PR and brand initiatives.