As we head into the last months of 2014 – and more importantly, the holiday season — I'm ready to make my nomination for the "word of the year." And no, it’s not “salmon cannon,” “bromance,” or others proposed by John Oliver or Stephen Colbert. The word supply chain and sustainability leaders should take away from 2014 is omnichannel.
At its core, omnichannel is an approach to retail that aims to deliver a holistic shopping experience that integrates in-store and online platforms, combining the supply chain of brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce. It recognizes the staying power of each, the expectation of the customer for consistent prices across platforms and the ability to choose how, when and where to receive his/her purchases.
Folks that make a living thinking about how to allocate and where to place inventory have been using the word for a few years. In 2014, though, omnichannel crossed the chasm from being wonky, industry-speak to being a mainstream business concept – covered recently in USA Today – and a core aspect of competing in the digital age.
Which brings us to an important question: what are the environmental implications of omnichannel retailing?