“It’s Hard” Sums Up the Role of Operations

Apr 14, 2014 2:15 PM  By

“It’s Hard” was a song by “The Who,” and many of us are singing that tune when it comes to the complexities of operations in our present day omnichannel global ecommerce industry.

While business is growing, meeting the growing customer demands and dealing with the explosion of new operations technology is challenging even the most experienced and best senior operations executives.

Multichannel Merchant’s upcoming Operations Summit, taking place in Indianapolis on April 22-24, has sessions filled with operations managers that are talking about the solutions to the growing complexities.

As we planned one of our upcoming Operations Summit sessions with top ecommerce operations executives, it became clear that every important element of DTC operations is getting more complex.  Our workforces, processes and technology are all improving, but becoming more complex to manage.

Questions that we asked each other ran the gamut:  How do we make sure that Holiday 2014 packages get where they are going on time? How should we approach global ecommerce?  How can we keep up with the “Amazon effect”? How do we recruit and train entry level people when you need so many technology adept people now?  How many technologies can we “bolt-on” before you over-tax your systems?  How are we doing in delivering a great omnichannel customer experience to our customers?  Do we need another distribution center, or should we outsource and do more drop-shipping?  Is same day delivery going to be a reality?  Are costs going to continue to go up?   How do we deliver a great customer experience while managing email, live chat, calls and social media in our contact centers?

These are just a sampling of the questions that we’ll be trying to answer at the keynote power panel, moderated by industry veteran Bill Kuipers of Spaide, Kuipers & Company, and includes senior operations executives from NewEgg, OSP Group (formerly Redcats), Commando,  Guitar Center, and Finish Line.

The Operations Summit tours will let attendees get an actual peek into how others handle the complexities of DTC courtesy of direct-to-customer operations like FedEx Express, OSP Group, OHL, Ingram Micro Logistics, IDS, and LaCrosse Footwear/Danner.  Tour attendees will be hosted by some of the best DTC operations executives around including Chip Edgington, Executive Vice President, Operations, OSP Group and Nick DiFlora, Director of Distribution at LaCrosse Footwear.

The always-popular moderated roundtables with specific topics give attendees a way to meet others with similar opportunities and challenges.  This year, there are over 60 roundtable sessions available to attendees spanning systems, people, and processes.

Most speakers we talked with believe that technology will become better and more easily integrated, and people will become more technology adept.  But no one we spoke with thought that customers would become less demanding.  The good news is that those demanding ecommerce customers are projected to continue to buy more and grow domestically and globally.  So I guess it will continue to be “hard”, but good.