Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Navigating Omnichannel Commerce With Kylie Schafer From Summit Advisory Team - Ep. 17

December 20, 2023 | 44:00

In This Episode

Whether you’re a small, medium-sized, or enterprise business, your customers probably expect an omnichannel shopping experience. Kylie Schafer, practice lead at Summit Advisory Team, talks with Lori about the benefits of omnichannel commerce and gives some advice for getting started.

Omnichannel in a nutshell

Kylie explains that omnichannel is all about “cross-pollination” between sales channels. For example, customers might be able to buy something online and return it to the store, or view their online purchase history and in-store purchase history side-by-side. 

In a broader sense, though, omnichannel is “just good retail.” The best brands “meet the customer where they are [and] help them shop the way they want to shop.”

Why invest in omnichannel strategies?

Why use an omnichannel fulfillment approach? The answer is simple: “Your customers expect it. … They expect things to be fast. They expect things to be easy. They expect minimal friction.” Through every stage of the customer journey, from purchase to returns, buyers value a seamless shopping experience—and omnichannel is the best way to provide one.

Getting started with omnichannel 

What should you do if you’ve never used an omnichannel strategy before or want to level up your current processes? Kylie offers the same advice for every business, regardless of size. She says, “The first thing I always encourage … is starting with a proper strategy. Why do you think you need to do this? What are your customers telling you? What are your main competitors doing? Where do you want to be?” 



Lori Boyer 00:00 

Welcome, our logistics community. So glad to have you back for another episode of Unboxing Logistics. You know, we're the podcast from EasyPost where we just jump into every topic under the sun that would apply to you, to your roles and to just what's going on in the industry. I love this show because I love the guests that I've been able to meet.

I am constantly talking to my family, my husband, my coworkers about the amazing things that I have learned. And today is going to be no exception. Today on our show, I have Kylie Schafer, the one and only. And, uh, Kylie, take a minute and tell everybody who you are and what your role is. 

Kylie Schafer 00:47 

Yeah. So, um, Kylie Schafer, nice to meet everybody.

I am a practice lead at Summit Advisory Team, uh, EasyPost's consulting, um, and I look after our omnichannel practice, which is basically our retail and, uh, well, basically our retail practice.

Lori Boyer 01:03 

I love it. And I am super excited to talk all things omnichannel today. And what is your cat's name? 

Kylie Schafer 01:10 

My cat's name is Casper, and he has apparently decided he wants to be part of this today.

Lori Boyer 01:15 

Even, even the feline industry is really excited about having Kylie here today. So, that is super awesome. Um, so, our topic today is exactly that. Omnichannel. We're gonna, for those of you who are newer to the industry, we're gonna talk a little bit about what omnichannel is, for those of you who have been around a while, how can you optimize, you know, what are the trends when it comes to omnichannel, and Kylie is a consultant on this very topic. She works with companies like you every day, helping you optimize and make sure that you've got everything buttoned down when it comes to omnichannel. So I'm super excited to learn all about this cool and, and interesting topic. Okay, Kylie, before we get started though, one of my, uh, our community's favorite parts is to kind of learn a little bit more about you on the fun side. 

So, we are gonna do the game This or That, and I'm just gonna ask you a few questions, and you're gonna tell me which you prefer, and we can get to know the real Kylie. Before we start though, before I even ask you this or that, Tell us where you're from, because there's obviously, you and I, we have slightly different accents, so I'm sure people are wondering about that.

Kylie Schafer 02:28 

Yeah, so I'm originally Australian, uh, Australian born and bred. I was there until about seven years ago, um, moved to Denmark for a year, and then moved to the U. S. My accent has been a little bit messy for quite a while now, working for international companies, and companies where their, English was a second language. So you definitely drop a lot of the Australian slang, but I still have the twang there. 

Lori Boyer 02:55 

I love it. Did you work in the logistics industry in Denmark or Australia? 

Kylie Schafer 03:01 

Yeah, I'm a retailer through and through. So I've kind of worked in every aspect of retail, except maybe marketing. 

Lori Boyer 03:10 

Come join me, join me.

Kylie Schafer 03:13 

Basically everywhere from store ops, ecommerce, merchandising, data, product, technical development, or kind of across the gamut. And from retailers that started with consumer electronics, department stores, and most recently, uh, jewelry. And now working with clients that span everywhere from medical to clothing, so.

Lori Boyer 03:33 

Okay, Kylie. You're like my, living my dream life. I want to live all over. And what are some of the biggest differences you've seen, um, in kind of the retail space in some of the different countries? Just out of curiosity. 

Kylie Schafer 03:48 

Ooh, that's an interesting question. So if I start with Australia versus the U.S., one of the things that was the first difference that that became apparent was how quickly you get products here.

Lori Boyer 03:59 

Really? So it's much slower. 

Kylie Schafer 04:01 

It's definitely, Australia is big and doesn't have a lot in the middle. The expectations tend to be a little bit different there. They're closing now. You know, Amazon's expansion everywhere has definitely changed that, but there's some differences there. Generally, customers' expectations around that do differ a little bit. Um. If I can say it, the American customer tends to be a little bit more demanding and have higher expectations. 

Lori Boyer 04:27 

How dare you, Kylie. We are the most patient, loving people. No, I, I know what you mean. Shout out to our patient Aussies out there. Um, and and for those of you who are maybe in the U.S. or elsewhere shipping to Australia, that's a great insight that, you know, maybe they're not going to demand it in 32 seconds after they order it, that it be delivered. What, so I'm curious about Denmark, then. So when you're there and the countries are so close together, um, how are the expectations there in Europe?

Kylie Schafer 04:58 

It's closer to the U.S. In general, um, But a little more patient, um, and it does vary country to country within Europe as well. So a lot of the Western European countries and the UK are much, much closer in terms of shipping expectations compared to, you know, some of the more Eastern European countries um, that are used to some of that, but that, you know, we're all getting a lot closer with that payment types are different as well. So there's, there's a bunch of different payment type differences, differences with return expectations. So. 

Lori Boyer 05:33 

I may have to have you back for an episode. I'm going to do some, I've had some requests on international shipping and challenges. And one of the things that I've heard from people is just understanding those differences, understanding cultural differences, understanding things like payment or time difference. You know, all of those kind of elements really come into play. So everybody keep an eye out. We'll have to do something totally on international and learning about it, but you did not get out of the hot seat.

I'm still doing my this or that. You didn't distract me with your interesting stories. Um, Kylie, are you a listen to music or listen to podcasts person? 

Kylie Schafer 06:12 

If I'm walking or exercising, I'll do podcasts. If I am relaxing or otherwise trying to unwind, I will do music. 

Lori Boyer 06:21 

Shoes or slippers or nothing? You are wearing shoes right now, Kylie?

Kylie Schafer 06:28 

Oh, right now, Uhhuh wearing socks on. 

Lori Boyer 06:32 

Yes. See, I wondered being there at home. So if you're at home, you're got, you get no shoes, but otherwise you're your shoes gal. Okay. Are you a veggie or a meat person? 

Kylie Schafer 06:44 


Lori Boyer 06:45 

Meat. Do you have a fave? 

Kylie Schafer 06:48 

Ooh, if I'm ordering out, steak. If I'm making it from probably more fish or chicken.

Lori Boyer 06:55 

Ah, I love a good steak. Love a good steak. Do you have a favorite place you go for it? 

Kylie Schafer 07:01 

There is a steakhouse not too far from my house, which is also directly opposite my gym, which has been visited many times. 

Lori Boyer 07:09 

Oh man, we need to, we need to get them as a, uh, a sponsor. Yeah. You want to come sponsor the show, we'll get paid in steak. Um, are you, would you get a new phone or new clothes? 

Kylie Schafer 07:23 

I would probably rather travel somewhere if I had some. 

Lori Boyer 07:27 

Me too. Okay, we gotta get something. I know, I would totally travel too. I'm not a things person, I'm an experience person. I love that. Love that. Okay. Are you the driver or the passenger?

Kylie Schafer 07:43 

Passenger. I'm also, I'm also going to tell you this may have something to do with driving on the, learning to drive on the other side of the road. 

Lori Boyer 07:52 

Okay. So when we travel together, you can drive everywhere where people drive on the left and I'll drive everywhere that we drive on the right. 

Kylie Schafer 08:00 

That is my deal with my partner. He's in charge of most of the world and I'm in charge of like the UK, Japan, Jamaica. 

Lori Boyer 08:08 

You're like, I'll take a handful. Okay, I love it. Okay, and this one's perfect for you. Um, would you rather visit Asia or Europe? 

Kylie Schafer 08:18 

If I was traveling from here, I would probably do Europe. If I was traveling from Australia, I would probably do Asia.

Lori Boyer 08:25 

So you're just picking the closest. You're like everywhere's fun. 

Kylie Schafer 08:30 

There's amazing places everywhere. Yes. 

Lori Boyer 08:31 

I know. That is totally true. I went for the first time to Asia just this last summer. Went to Japan. Amazing, beautiful experience. So, you know, I've never been to Europe, so that's got to be next then.

I've been all over this area, but, okay, now we're going to dive into our topic of choice, omnichannel. I have to admit, when I first got into the logistics, um, retail world, omnichannel, I didn't even know what that meant. So let's go all the way back to the people who were beginners. What is omnichannel? You know, is it the same as multichannel? Is it different than multichannel? What, what is omnichannel? 

Kylie Schafer 09:11 

I think I'm going to answer you that omnichannel these days is really just good retail. This will probably give you an indication as to my age. But when I started, you basically had stores, right? So you had a single channel that you were selling through.

Then maybe you have a website and you're kind of in multi-channel land, right? You will run those channels reasonably independently. They'd be separate teams. They'd be separate stock pots. You wouldn't really have crossing over processes. You wouldn't really have any of that. Whereas now, most organizations have some level of cross pollination between those two.

Maybe you can buy online and return in a store. That's an omnichannel capability. Maybe when you go to your website, you can log in and you can see your store history as, of purchases, as well as your online purchase history. Maybe you're being recognized automatically and they, you know, it knows that you like experiences and not purchases. So your experience is tailored on that website that you visit. So there's some fundamentals and prerequisites to being omnichannel, but that's really what it is. It's just good retail. Meet the customer where they are. Help them shop the way they want to shop get things to them in the way that they want to receive it. 

Lori Boyer 10:31 

So basically having multiple channels in which people can purchase from you, whether that's a physical store an online store. Does that expand then Kylie to like, so let's say that you're selling on a marketplace or you're on Shopify and you've got your website and and how does that tie into the omnichannel experience? 

Kylie Schafer 10:50 

Yeah, really what makes it omnichannel as opposed to multichannel is crossing over between the channels. So, for example, if you can buy online and pick up in store. If you can or return it in store, or if you are recognized across multiple channels, um, be that a marketplace and your online store. It's basically being able to fulfill for the customer, regardless of where they started interacting with you. So, you know. Maybe that customer comes to your website, but the stock is in the store around the corner from them.

They can pick it up, you can ship it to them from the store, whatever that looks like. It's really that cross pollination, um, across those different selling channels that moves you from being multi-channel to being omnichannel. 

Lori Boyer 11:42 

Okay. So multi-channel is more of the kind of siloed approach where, you know, if you're on this site, it's all done through that site and it doesn't cross over to your physical store, your website, something like that.

What if you're looking at the experience? Like I was talking to someone recently and they said, I'm trying to create the same sort of brand experience across all these channels. Is that considered still multi-channel, omnichannel? How does that play in? 

Kylie Schafer 12:07 

I would consider that a step towards being omnichannel, right? Your customer recognizes that you're the same business across those different channels. You're interacting with them in the same way. You're helping support them in the same way, you're knowing what they need regardless of where they're interacting with you based on prior interactions or anything along those lines.

Lori Boyer 12:31 

Okay. So the customer experience then could start moving into that omnichannel approach. Okay. So you've said it's crucial. Why is it crucial in today's environment? Why is that so important? And maybe we're talking about us picky Americans too. 

Kylie Schafer 12:47 

No, it's everywhere. It's definitely everywhere. It's your customers expect it is really what it comes down to. Um, your customers are going to be frustrated if they expect to be able to do something a certain way and they don't get it, right? If all of your competitors Um, allow a certain thing, if all of your competitors, um, recognize that customer that purchased online and now they, and now they're in the store and, you know, you know that they also bought this and would they also like this because that goes really well with it. Anything along those lines, your customers expect it these days. 

Lori Boyer 13:28 

Yeah, it's such a good point. I recently was talking with my friend Kevin, and he shared a story with me about how he'd gotten this gift for his mom, and it was from a, a big store, big name, I'm not gonna tell you who. I won't say who, because it could be anybody, um, but she, um, it didn't fit.

And so he decided, okay, I'm going to take it back to the nearest outlet of this store, which was about an hour away. And so he drove to the store and they said, Oh, we don't ship it back. You have to like go online and do that because he'd bought it online. And he was so concerned about it. He told me all about it and and and this store then for him was kind of had a black mark on it. And and I guess it is true.

I hadn't even really thought about it But that's exactly where we're like, man you couldn't you drove all the way there and you couldn't even they couldn't take it and return it for you? 

Kylie Schafer 14:22 

Yep. They expect things to be fast. They expect things to be easy. They expect minimal friction. And this is, you know, from the original selection and purchase through fulfillment and any post purchase journeys like returns.

Returns are one of the biggest ones that is, you know, like, even from the customer perspective, if I was in his shoes, like isn't it gonna cost you more for me to ship it back rather than you shipping back in bulk from the store? It doesn't make sense. 

Lori Boyer 14:50 

Yes, exactly. And he just expected. Yeah, he just totally expected that that's how it could work because other big stores do that. And so he didn't even think to stop and call them before he drove an hour, but come on, Kevin, that's a little on you. But even still, you know, that's, it does create kind of a bad experience. So, um, what is it that keeps businesses from adopting this approach? You know, why, why maybe were they not doing that?

Kylie Schafer 15:18 

There's a bunch of reasons that it could be. Um, two of the most common, and I'll give you these two in particular because they're kind of opposite ends of the spectrum. One may be they just don't have the technology to support it. They can't see this transaction. They can't see that he bought it. They can't validate anything relating to that.

For all they're concerned, he's a customer that walked in off the street with a product that they also sell. Um, so that might be one reason. The other reason and the one that we see probably slightly more frequently these days, is the incentives aren't right. So you haven't done the change management processes.

So the stores are not rewarded for taking that back. In fact, maybe it comes out of their budget as a return. So there, you're actually incentivizing the wrong behavior by managing it in a way. So you haven't done, you know, People, process, technology. It's one of those three. Your technology example, you can't see it, you can't do it, it doesn't allow you to.

Your process example, maybe you don't have a way, a place to store the stock at the back. Maybe you don't have a way of sending it back because you don't have a way of shipping labels. Maybe you don't have a place in the store where you can store this stuff. Your people. Your incentives are wrong. They're not rewarded or they don't know how.

Lori Boyer 16:42 

Exactly. Um, training. That's super interesting. So I, I'm curious, we have kind of a couple of different audiences here. We may have smaller businesses who haven't even attempted an omnichannel approach. And I also want to talk about these larger businesses who obviously haven't implemented it. As you know, my friend went to that store.

It was a larger store. So let's start with a small business. Let's say that we've got someone, they're growing. Um, how can they, what are the kind of the first steps to starting that sort of omnichannel approach? 

Kylie Schafer 17:14 

Yeah, the first thing I would always encourage businesses to do, and this is kind of true regardless of where they are on their journey, regardless of their size, is starting with a proper strategy.

You know, why, why do you think you need to do this? What are your customers telling you? What are your main competitors doing? Um, and where do you want to be? Right? So, actually understanding what that looks like will help you prioritize. Because there are 50 different things you could do. 10 of which are probably big bang for everybody.

Two of which are going to be really significant for you. And you don't want to spend your time on the other eight. Or the other 48. 

Lori Boyer 17:59 

So what would you say are the biggest ones? So if they're going to pick a few things to start, what would those be? 

Kylie Schafer 18:04 

Even if you can't necessarily process a transaction across channels, or fulfill a transaction, being able to actually validate for the customer, yes, you see their transaction. Being able to support the customer, yes, you see them.

You see the record of that. Being able to, you know, when a customer is online beforehand, and maybe your friend. He had that item and he wanted to make sure that they had a size up and a size down so that went, or maybe a size up and two sizes up. So when he went in, he could double check, you know, they're going to have something for me to exchange when I get there.

Lori Boyer 18:57 

The visibility piece. Yeah, I've had times when I've gone like to pick up a prescription even. So shout out to our pharmacy viewers. Um, and they didn't have it in stock and I said, oh, well I know that you have another location. And they weren't able to check for me. They said, we can call them and see. And I was like, you can't just look in your computer and see if they have it? So visibility. 

Kylie Schafer 19:21 

Visibility is probably the place where you would want to start. And it's also going to be the place where you're going to start to highlight issues with your data. One of the biggest barriers as you get into a lot of this is, is data, can be data, accuracy, visibility, all of that sort of stuff, and, and being able to kind of expose some of that early, um, is going to really help a lot of people.

Lori Boyer 19:45 

So you're going to need some good technology early on, right, to make sure that you can see across channels what's going on. Um, okay. So if we're talking a bigger organization, maybe they've got the visibility, they're wanting to scale. They're wanting to improve and take the next step with their omnichannel. What, what kind of are those sort of middle to to end type steps? How can they scale? 

Kylie Schafer 20:09 

Yeah. So what I would probably do would be work out, what are you currently doing? So I'm answering the same question again, but working out what are you currently doing? What are your current pain points? You know, is the problem that your customers can buy online, but then when, when they get to the store to pick it up, it's not there, it's not ready. Um, are they having issues with um, their returns process, and that's not going smoothly? Are their customers not receiving their stock on time? And there's, you know, an ability to be able to ship from store because you have so many stores and outlets that are near them. So it's really about what is the main gap that you're trying to close and doing that.

Now, if I assume that, let's say you have all of these capabilities, then the first thing I would be doing would be digging into your data and working out what's going well, what's not going well. Do we have some stores that, or some DCs that are doing amazingly and some stores and some DCs that are doing terribly?

Can we benchmark this? Can we work out what the differences are? And can we solve those pain points either through process, through technology, whatever that happens to be? 

Lori Boyer 21:26 

I love how you mentioned that, the, the process. Well, you said the process because you're very, very, uh, hip. The process, the technology, and people, right?

Those are the three things that we need to look at. So it could be that they think they have everything in place, but maybe the process or the people are kind of letting them down. Maybe they have the right technology. Maybe the technology's off, not communicating. I would love to talk about those three aspects.

Um, and, and maybe let's start with technology because that seems like you gotta have the technology to be able to speak between channels. Um, what are kind of crucial elements of technology that you recommend people have?

Kylie Schafer 22:04 

Yeah, I mean, for any of your omni fulfillment capabilities and advanced, more, at least an order management system that enables you to have shared inventory channels and enables you to have orders fulfilled across those channels, um, and stock visibility, obviously, as a starting point across those channels, um, is going to be one of the key, one of the key enablers.

Um, your solid data, right? Who is your customer? What's your product, and how much do you have? Where? Those, those are going to be really key. And they sound simple. But they're not. Even your store data, right, like the number of times we've run into problems because you think you've got it all down and then your store hours are wrong.

And then you send your customer to the store and they think that it's open and it's not even open yet or it's closed for that day or it's undergoing renovations, even worse, right? So having good, solid data and processes around that, having a good, solid order management system and processes around that.

Understanding and mapping your data flow across these key systems as well is one of the other areas that we see challenges. Okay. Um, and a simple example of that is you might think that you've got everything there. All of your palming's in place. Yep. Sweet. No worries. What's happening is that you're sending an inventory feed to your website and it's happening at the wrong sequence.

Right. So maybe you're sending it and then you're receiving your stock. So all of that stock that you just received for the day is not reflected on your website. And it's another 24 hours before you sent it or it's enough, you know, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever it happens to be. You have delays in these processes.

Um, maybe it is that you don't have processes to control when you're shipping things out of the DC. So you look like you've shipped it on the right day. But it's happening at 7 p.m. And the carrier pickup was at 4 p.m. You've essentially shipped it the next day. And it's going to be an extra day before you get there.

But you probably will be looking at your data and seeing, you know, your DC shipped it on the right day, your carrier delivered it within the right window, but your customers are complaining that it's not getting there on time. So being able to kind of make sure that you have that flow properly mapped and managed, um, is important.

And outside of that, you know, having good customer data. I don't think anyone does this amazingly, if I can be frank. So don't feel bad. Nobody has this entirely down. Um, but having solid customer data is going to be more and more important as you move through this. 

Lori Boyer 25:08 

So it's, so tech systems. I'm going to recap just what I've heard. So a great OMS, we've got to start with that. We needed to have, um, something to look at the data across the different channels. We need to make sure we got that. What did you call it? The solid data that? 

Kylie Schafer 25:26 

I said, I said solid customer data. So like CRM, CDP kind of solution. Actually seeing this is my customer and data into your customers.

Lori Boyer 25:37 

And obviously, we've all faced tech challenges, like, like you said, where the data is not accurate. Um, it seems like that's where people are coming into play a lot in the, you know, technology people processes approach. Um, you know, in talking, I talked with James Sutton, and one of his approaches is technology, um, advocates in different, um, in different departments who all work together on this.

Is that an approach that you find that you also agree with? Do you feel like you should have one person? What should people be looking for when they're trying to get people to oversee, um, the technology? 

Kylie Schafer 26:19 

First of all, James is amazing, so I'm never going to disagree with him on a lot of these things. 

Lori Boyer 26:22 

I know, I know. James is awesome. 

Kylie Schafer 26:25 

Yes, but outside of that, I think, there's two parts to this, right? Having, if you were to have one central person, they're never going to be able to understand all of the data, and whether all of the data looks right, feels right. All of that sort of thing. Sometimes there's a gap to this right. Having ownership in the different business areas and the areas that are actually responsible for the numbers that you're reporting on will get you better results.

Is it needed? No, not strictly. You could have central people managing it. Um, but you will find that if you have individual business areas who are driving, this is what I need to see out of the data and this is the data that I'm looking at. And this is the way that I want to see it. Um, and then really owning the inputs into that you will get better results.

So it doesn't need to be their full time role in all of these different spaces. That's another thing to consider. But there should be ownership of data elements in different business areas. 

Lori Boyer 27:32 

What kind of challenges do you see, especially when it's not their full time role? You know, is there the danger that it gets put on the back burner? Is that, you know, what kind of challenges do we see with people?

Kylie Schafer 27:44 

Yes and yes. Definitely, what you will often see is that this comes in as an on top of, right? An initiative comes in and it is, and now you also do this. Instead of putting it in the context of, right, so here are, here are these things that you already currently do and here is how what you're doing in this space is going to enhance those things, right?

So, maybe you already have a person who is responsible for your store operations, um, and that part of it. If they just think that checking a bunch of numbers and a bunch of data flows is on top of their job, they're not going to go and do it. But if they see this as an enabler for them being able to reach out to the right district manager, area manager, whatever you want to call it, even the right store.

Right. If they see it as an enabler to make the rest of their job faster and easier, and if we actually build the solution so that it is not just changing it, but actually so that it is an enabler for that, you will get a lot more buy in, and you'll get a better result. So I think making sure that as you're designing this solution, you're designing the solution so that it actually supports the processes that they're doing.

Lori Boyer 29:05 

So it seems like what you're saying is that, you know, I totally see that amazing benefit of people who already are passionate about, you know, different areas and and them then owning that technology and being able to see how by having that technology, they can make their lives easier. However, how do you get that buy in?

First of all, it kind of seems like maybe when you're setting up your tech or when you're, you know, upgrading or even, even if you already have it. You know, it's not too late. To bring people in and try to get their buy in and hear what is effective, what isn't effective. Um, what though, I guess, would you recommend in terms of how to get people to feel like this does matter to them? How to, how to make them see it, it's not just an on top of everything else I have to do. I'm supposed to kind of keep an eye on this, but I won't really. 

Kylie Schafer 29:53 

The first off, it does need to truly be that. So actually having them come in and working through the what's in it for them. On what, what are we doing? How is it going to support them and actually putting that into real perspective, right? So how would they use this in a day to day? How would this support them? And if you need to change something because of some feedback, change it. It's probably not a significant deal, and you will get so much buy in from that compared to forcing it in the slight way that that it was designed originally.

I think being able to be adaptive and responsive to what people are trying to say and the underlying point behind what they're trying to say as well. Right. So they might be talking about, uh, needing to see something in particular, and I'm blanking on an example as I'm talking, but they might, they might say that I need to see this piece of data.

But when you actually dig in, it's because they're worried about the store not doing something correctly. So making sure that you have something that addresses the why the store is not doing something correctly, um, and and monitoring and managing and being able to do that will really help. Um, and what you might also find is that through this process, you're able to say, actually, there's these five scenarios that we've identified that either require a technical change, or we can throw up some alerting, right?

So. These five scenarios, when this criteria is hit, we've got a problem and someone needs to do something. So, you might actually find that you're fixing other problems that you didn't even know as you were digging into that. I think I went a little tangent there, but did I actually answer your question?

Lori Boyer 31:43 

No, I love what I heard from you, and it really resonated with me so much maybe as a team member themselves. But to meet people where they're at, and I can totally imagine times where maybe I would be the one who would find this amazing new system and this technology, and I'm trying to convince somebody else to use it, and I can see all the benefits, but they will not use 98 percent of what it is.

And while you wish they would, meeting them where they're at and giving them tools they'll actually use is better than the biggest, fanciest thing that they're not even going to look at. And then, as they, as they increase, in their and get me if I'm going way off on this. Yeah, that's what I'm hearing from you is that then you can continue to build on that and improve. But yeah, just, you know, kind of shoving it down our throats. Sometimes we'll just be like, yeah, okay, thanks. That's great. But it doesn't help me. So okay, so yeah. Processes then. So we've talked people. We've talked technology. Again, I think we could do a full episode on each one, but I want to make sure we hit all three. So processes. How do you recommend the approach in terms of optimizing processes um, for omnichannel? 

Kylie Schafer 33:02 

Yeah, one of the things that we've seen a tremendous amount of value in is actually doing a process audit of your top three time consuming processes or whatever it happens to be right.

Okay. So if, for example, um, you have click and collect or buy online, pick up in store, depending on where you are in the world, we call it different things. Um, if you have that, and that's something that your store teams are complaining about, what you will probably find is that there's some choke points in that process or some frustrating points in that process, um, that you can fix and suddenly the noise goes away or the noise drops down.

So things like we had an example in a customer where as you got into certain screens, the Wi Fi, if the Wi Fi dropped out at that point in time, the entire thing froze and you had to go right on back to the start. 

Lori Boyer 34:08 

How frustrating. 

Kylie Schafer 34:10 

Some of the stores and some of the shopping centers don't always have great Wi Fi in their back room. So, even just fixing little choke points like that where you're buffering these sorts of things, or, um, maybe what's happening is that the sequence of events is very frustrating for, for, um, your store associates. So let's say they're picking order by order. And they're walking over to this area of the store, and then this area of the store, and then they press done, and then they walk right back to the first area of the store, and then the next area, then back to the same, you know, simple things like that. Um, actually doing a time study and go, what's taking the time, talking to them about, you know, what are you seeing, what are you hearing, actually looking at that, and taking that feedback, there will be, and then I guarantee you there will be things that you will find that you can do.

I, I spend a lot of time working with dev teams and the things that happen on the screen through the flows are not necessarily the things that happen in real, in the real world. So actually going out and observing it in real life will, will be different. 

Lori Boyer 35:17 

I love that. Jill Barron always recommends getting some feet on the ground, being there and seeing what's actually going on.

Um, I love that advice. That is fantastic. I also have to say, you know, like the picking and packing and some of the, you know, sometimes it's great for our step trackers, but maybe not great for our efficiency. And so there are a lot of opportunities. So it sounds like we need to be keeping an eye on the problems, which obviously means talking to people, actually looking at it.

Do you have like a Sequence you would recommend in terms of best practices for how often you should be reviewing these processes. Um, you know, how you go about that. Do you get a team that kind of oversees these process? How do you, how do you monitor it? 

Kylie Schafer 36:03 

I think that probably is going to depend on the organization and, and the setup. Um, having at least a place that your team members could go to, to report these kinds of things that they're seeing, um. 

Lori Boyer 36:22 

And then actually reading it and listening to it. 

Kylie Schafer 36:27 

Having an owner who is responsible for this and, and, you know, on who, and they're literally held accountable for other people's improvements is going to be key, right?

Because what you'll probably find. Even if you do these studies, even if you do this mapping, even if you do this data analysis, there'll be other people in your organization that's like, I knew that. And they did, and they've been screaming about it, but it hasn't gotten to the right people. They didn't know where to go to it.

So actually having a place where this stuff can go is always going to be important. Um, whenever you are looking at your overall strategy and your goals, like having at least a light touch view on where could we have pain points, where could we have these sorts of problems so that you're addressing them first, because the last thing you want to do is go and upgrade to a tier one auto management system, spend nine months going down this process, do all of this stuff.

And realistically, the problem was that your inventory wasn't accurate enough, or you thought you had safety stocks, you know, like. Whenever you're embarking on something like that, um, Summit has what they call a phase zero approach, which is, you know, let's come in and actually do a starting point. Do we have the objectives down?

Do we understand the context of what we're going into? Have we actually got the baseline criteria for success measured out? Do we know what will likely be our pain points as we go through this process? You know, what could stop us? What are the risks? All of those sorts of things doing that right at the start is going to save you so much pain.

Um, so yeah, I think I'm giving you two answers. One is always make sure that there's a place where this stuff can go so it can get dealt with regardless of the size of your team, regardless if you have an entire organization that can be built around business process optimization, or if you're a really lean team. Making sure that someone is responsible for that, I would say, is going to be key regardless.

And then whenever you're doing any of these big initiatives, make sure that you're looking at this kind of stuff. What could hold us up? What could, what could trip us up? 

Lori Boyer 38:44 

Yes. So, information gathering seems to be super critical and looking and being open to it and and not just only looking maybe at your exec team, but you know getting down to the people on the floor and figuring out where you may be having challenges. We're just about out of time, but I am curious before we go, what do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or roadblocks that are keeping people from making their omnichannel successful? And then I just would love to hear a couple of tips for you. Final takeaways of things people can do to kind of push past those challenges and make sure they're making this a focus. 

Kylie Schafer 39:24 

I think one of the things that will trip you up is, you know, we've talked about it throughout, but it's data accuracy overall, right? And inventory acts, accuracy is going to be the key part of that for anything omnichannel. There is very little point in showing your stock online, your availability of your stock in store online if it's not accurate, or if it's a day out of date, or if it's, you know, you're going to need to add a safety stock of two units to anything that's there or anything along those lines, right?

So imagery accuracy is going to be a key, a key thing that'll trip you up. The second one is look at your incentives of the people that are doing the things. So making sure that you are set up so that they are rewarded or at least not punished for doing the things that you want them to do and prioritizing the things that you want them to prioritize.

Um, if you don't have that in place, you will have problems. You might have some people that'll do it anyway because they're the good little soldiers and they'll do it regardless, right? But, not, that's, that's not the majority of what you're gonna have. 

Lori Boyer 40:41 

Yeah. Oh, absolutely. That's fantastic. So technology wise, um, do you recommend in, if they're wanting to find out how accurate their inventory numbers are, their data is, um, set up an initiative and, and check it, right?

Regularly check it and, and be following up on that. And, and then if you have problems from there, you can try to figure out if it's processes or people or if it's the technology itself. Um, yeah. Any final comments? I would love, we can, we can totally chat more. Oh and I totally want to say um, Kylie is amazing.

She actually works as a consultant doing omnichannel everything. If you want to just reach out to her, I mean, that's a fantastic first step. You absolutely can. She can come in and be the brains behind looking for all the problems you might be having. That may be the easiest way to do it. Um, I will for sure include information. Kylie, how can they get a, um, connect with you? 

Kylie Schafer 41:37 

Uh, yeah. So, um, I think you can put our website in the show notes probably, so jump on, jump on there, reach out to us, tell us what you're looking for, happy to help with whatever, we can jump on the phone, do an exploratory call, see if it's a good fit. 

Lori Boyer 41:52 

Yeah, and if they just want to follow you, are you on LinkedIn or anything where they can kind of keep up with you? 

Kylie Schafer 41:57 

I am. I am. 

Lori Boyer 42:00 

Kylie's looking guilty. 

Kylie Schafer 42:01 

Kylie is looking guilty. She is not great with social media. Um, I will tell you that, um, our Summit Advisory Team LinkedIn, is generally, um, the place to go. And I will contribute to things in there. I am not that great with my personal LinkedIn. You are more welcome to follow me on there, but I am not that great at making sure that it's there.

Lori Boyer 42:24 

I'm sure if somebody, uh, writes a comment and says, Kylie, I had a question for you that, that she'll get reached out to and, and she could respond. So thank you so much for being here. Everyone, I just want to reiterate what we've heard today. Omnichannel is good retail today. Is that how you said it or it's the best retail?

It's what we have to have. We've seen how picky people are and this is something that's just going to get more and more and more important in our customer expectations. So start small. If you're feeling overwhelmed with it, find one or two things that you can start doing, but don't just. Ignore it and hide it because it scares you.

Um, start focusing on it. So, Kylie, any final words of wisdom? 

Kylie Schafer 43:10 

No, I just wanted to say thank you. This was a great conversation. I feel like I've actually just randomly been chatting rather than. 

Lori Boyer 43:16 

I know I love chatting with you and I've learned so much so community out there. Thank you for being here and listening to Kylie today. If you have other topics that you want to hear from me, please let me know. I'm always happy to get on all the experts who can help us. When we don't know what we're talking about, there are lots of smart people like Kylie who do. So thank you again for being here Kylie and We'll see everyone next time!