Erik Caldwell, senior vice president of logistics and supply chain for Hudson’s Bay Company, was featured in Multichannel Merchant’s April 2016 cover story talking about his role there, industry trends and the company’s acquisition of Gilt.
In this excerpt from the Q&A, Caldwell gives his thoughts on omnichannel, or as Hudson’s Bay Co. calls it, “all-channel.”
MCM: Do you feel like omnichannel as an industry concept is here to stay? Or will the term fade away as it becomes standard practice known simply as just “retail” or “commerce”?
Caldwell: We refer to this as our all-channel. Our all-channel model focuses on the customer – however, whenever or wherever he or she likes to shop.
MCM: On paper, omnichannel or all-channel delivers the perfect customer experience. Where is the chink in the armor, and what can be done to fix it?
Caldwell: Visibility is the toughest part of all-channel. Having retail and online gives you great flexibility; however, the challenge becomes when to flow goods into the different channels (ecommerce vs. multiple banners). Most companies have a lot of data but limited visibility to what is actually happening in real time. This becomes even more difficult as companies achieve scale which limits the ability to call “audibles” as effectively as they could when they were smaller.
MCM: Talk about the impacts of all-channel on the retail supply chain. How are they being addressed to improve efficiency, inventory visibility and availability?
Caldwell: The first big one that comes to mind is returns. Customers like to go in store to do their returns in store. And we saw this with the Gilt acquisition – the number one challenge for Gilt customers was the returns process. Which, as I said, we are addressing with Saks Off Fifth stores now taking their returns.
To find out what Caldwell had to say about topics like cross-border ecommerce, same-day delivery and the pursuit of his goals at HBC, check out the full April 2016 issue of Multichannel Merchant here.