At the heart of everything omnichannel is inventory. The customer needs to be able to get the merchandise they want, when they want it, and through their channel of choice. There has to be inventory visibility across channels, so stores, warehouses and distribution centers can see real-time inventory levels as part of the order fulfillment process. And finally, in order to actually fulfill orders in a timely and efficient manner, inventory needs to be shared across channels.
The robots are coming. Lowe's is testing whether new "bots on wheels" can improve its customer service, like helping a shopper find a match for something as simple as a nail. Four robots are being tested an Orchard Supply Hardware store owned by Lowe's Companies Inc. in San Jose, Calif.
Gaining deep visibility into sales channels and a timely understanding of every detail about product shipments is essential to modern businesses. Granular knowledge – about what items were sold, who sold them, who bought them, where they are now, and whether they’re being returned – gives manufacturers an edge in optimizing the final mile of the supply chain. That information is known as channel data, and the tools used to gather and manage that data are known as channel data management systems, or CDM.