One of the greatest infrastructural challenges facing retailers with multichannel delivery demands is ensuring estimates of store inventory are accurate.

Craig Sears-Black, UK managing director at supply chain commerce solutions provider Manhattan Associates, says: “The growth of multichannel has brought retailers and customers closer together, but it can be a logistical nightmare.

“Retailers have been required to evolve the processes by which they organise, store and transport goods in a short space of time. The opportunity exists for most retailers with stores to fulfil online orders from store stock, especially where the online order is for customer collection.”

To take advantage of that, stores also need to act as scaled-down distribution centres. That includes having stock control disciplines to drive stock accuracy.

There are various ways that retailers can achieve that in-store, such as by cross-referencing incoming stock against advanced shipping notices and frequent cycle counting to monitor shrinkage.

Retailers should also ensure there are accurate recording and management of return stock and real-time reconciliation of electronic PoS data.

Nevertheless, these measures alone are not sufficient for retailers to reap the benefits of supply chain accuracy.

“Shoppers are filling their baskets or trying on garments every minute of the day so there are other supply chain disciplines to be introduced to gain sufficient confidence to sell store stock online. Assumptions about safety stock levels by product need to be made and then managed and maintained in the order management system,” says Sears-Black.