SUPPLY CHAIN CONTROL TOWERS GO BIG TIME

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When we got into SCM Control Towers, there were not too many others (you know, the “experts” who appear in your mailbox every day and draw crowds at those big conferences) who were writing about them or building them.

BUT WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THEM AHEAD OF EVERYBODY ELSE

Now the “big guys” are finally getting into it.

So let’s recreate what we have published and give you some great material.

12 February, 2013

A new term is appearing in the supply chain arena: “Supply Chain Control Tower”. Just as an airport control tower coordinates airplanes landing and taking off, a Supply Chain Control Tower coordinates inbound and outbound distribution flows. Sure sounds more professional than a “dashboard”.
It is all about “knowledge”. Air controllers get information on weather, speed, direction, and altitude of aircraft and use that knowledge to keep their air space safe. Companies must know what is happening with their supply chains so they can prevent disasters too. They need to be able to do “what-if” analysis and work their way around events that will cause disruption and risks to the supply chain

10 May, 2013

Who Sits Where In The SCM Tower

The Global Supply Chain Forum has identified eight key processes that make up the core of supply chain management: (1) Customer Relationship Management (provides the structure for how the relationship with the customer is developed and maintained); (2) Customer Service Management (the company’s face to the customer); (3) Demand Management (coordinates all acts of the business that place demand on manufacturing capacity): (4) Order Fulfillment (integration of the firm’s manufacturing, logistics and marketing silos); (5) Manufacturing Flow Management; (6) Procurement (supplier relationship management); (7) Product Development and Commercialization (integrating customers and suppliers into the product development process in order to reduce time to market; (8) Returns.

In my first take at staffing the SCM Control Tower, I have Logistics, CRM, Demand Planning, Procurement and EDI/Electronic Commerce. I’m not far off the mark. I am covering all the “processes” that the Forum covers. In the Forum’s approach, everybody still reports organizationally in their own “silo” and proper operation of the SCM Control Tower depends on collaboration among the silos

21 June, 2013

SCM Control Tower Team Troubles

You are in the process of staffing your SCM Control Tower. This group will be drawn from different areas of your company (different “silos”) and different skill sets (for example, a “hazmat” expert). Is your SCM Control Tower going to be a team building melting pot or a boiling cauldron of dis-function. You could draw the brightest and most hard working employees in and outside of your company; but if they don’t get along, it could wreck your business.

 

19 August 2013

SCM Control Tower Functions

Our Supply ChainControl Tower is up and running. Yes, the idea makes a lot of sense, but what are the benefits? How do we make full use of our resources? What else do we need to add to it?


If you take a look at an airport control tower, it usually is a boring place. Yes, they work around the clock but all you see is a super smooth operation. Operators viewing screens and talking calmly into headsets. When it is not “boring”, they usually throw visitors out. Our goal with our SCM Control Tower is to make it a “boring” place.

Airport towers handle incidents on the ground like failed landing gear. They handle incidents in the air like a “near miss”. They even reach out to other airports: anybody ever sat in an airport waiting for your destination airport to plow its snow, or whatever?

So all the time our SCM “tower operators” are monitoring for aberrations: in-house; with the suppliers and service providers; and the external World. They are looking for anything that has, will or might interrupt the supply chain. When ever, let’s call it an “incident”, is detected, the tower operator first determines if it has already occurred.

05 September 2013

Transportation Control Towers

We have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower. In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990’s has been the “Load Control Center” (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
Transportation has always been an opportunity to centralize and get some benefits. 3M started the concept of Load Control Centers(LCC) and lots of others followed suit. The LCC is simply centralization of transportation planning and execution. Benefits include:

  • better pricing from centralized transportation sourcing

  • development of standardized operating procedures

  • fewer planners than in several separate operations

  • ability to combine more shipments and loads because of greater visibility

  • electronic integration with carriers

 

4 November 2013

SCM Control Towers and BIG DATA

Control towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a “SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CONTROL TOWER” to monitor and assure supply?

The SCM Control Tower is all about having visibility throughout the supply chain. But if there is total visibility and no ability to make decisions, then it is not a control tower. To be a decision maker, you will need to run “what if” scenarios: forecast and recalculate the entire inventory if “your ship doesn’t come in” (something that literally could happen). To be able to calculate effects of events, it will require a LOT of data. Hence, we need to introduce BIG DATA to our Control Tower.

HEY, I have a GREAT IDEA. If you have more stories or things to add, Send us your story (on the contact form) and WE WILL PUBLISH IT

Utica Comets First Season Ends – Who Knew Success Was Coming (So Fast)?

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Below is a great blog from Don Liable  that appeared in the Utica Observer Dispatch  on April 20th 2014
I’m sure that I’m not alone in thinking, where did the Utica Comets’ inaugural season go?
My gosh, I could remember last June vividly, as the press conference was presented at Aquavino’s making the announcement official.  Who knew that The AUD would/could be transformed from a building hopelessly stuck in the 1970’s to a modern day, AHL ready facility in about 90 days?  As excited as any hockey fan in the area, honestly, my expectations weren’t all that high on what would be coming.  How could it?  A professional hockey team, just a step away from the National Hockey League coming to 400 Oriskany Street,West?  Okay, what’s the catch?

Who knew that the day after the official announcement of the Vancouver Canucks putting their AHL franchise in Utica, a line of would-be season ticket holders would show up in the early hours to select their seats?  This was the precursor to what snowballed, no, make that avalanched , with the incredible acceptance of the club.  Then, the day single game tickets were put on sale, a Saturday morning, hundreds were camped out wanting seats for the specific opponents (Syracuse and Albany were at the top of many’s list) of choice.  Yet another sign that pro hockey was going to be a community-wide success.

Who knew that those deeply devoted to other programs in the area would finally come around and see for themselves that there most certainly is room for another hockey option?  To those who doubted that locals would pay professional prices, something that they hadn’t been used to for more than two decades, for a professional product became believers. If the Comets leadership would have gone on the record and predicted more than 100,000 supporters would come through The AUD turnstiles for 38 home games in year one – they would have been laughed at.  To those who may still want to find a way to be wondering if they (Comets) are going to stay (and there are such doubters) – the record shows 130,518 area hockey fans came to support their team.

Who knew there would ever be video boards inside The AUD, modernized concession areas, and a merchandise store that had as much difficulty keeping items stocked as a big box store prior to some type of weather alert?  Who knew that a staff of barely out of college students, with a few exceptions, would learn, grow, and exceed their own expectations?  The organizing of who is doing what, and how do we get there,(and I hope they are all reflecting on their growth) is flat-out amazing.  These kids probably don’t realize it (yet) but they are veterans already.  Who knew that already, the unofficial slogan for season two of the Comets is – “Is It October Yet” – ?

Who knew that as the horn went off for the last time for the season on Saturday, Utica’s record since January 17 is 24-12-3-2?  Absolutely amazing, and what a testament to the coaching done by Travis Green and his assistants Nolan Baumgartner and Paul Jerrard.

Who knew that THE Utica rivalry with the Syracuse Crunch would bloom as rapid, and as fierce, as it has?  The Comets fans, following to road games in Syracuse, Albany, and Adirondack, particularly, were as loud, and mostly louder than the home team fan base – who out numbered them by the thousands.  One thing I, and everyone, yes, everyone, could predict – Observer-Dispatch reporter John Pitarresi would be the damn best of the best in Utica media to chronicalize the club’s performances.  From a personal note, I learned so much on what to say, how to say it, and to who to say it to, in being around John at post-game press conferences.  What a pro.

Who knew Comets radio broadcasts would be a must when the boys were on the road?  Well, as in the case of John covering the team, Brendan Burke exceeded all predictions of his NHL readiness.  Who knew that Adam Banko would create a team ticket operations department so professional, and sensative to area fans, that his “getting to yes” approach to many distressed fans would find a way into The AUD, and have a seat waiting? Mark Caswell, bar none, champion of people skills and communicating with every and all who had to be kept in the loop on everything Comets, has grown into a full-fledged sports executive.

The team, the organization, and The AUD are in good hands, this day after season one is in the AHL books.  Who knew – I’ll tell you, as if you need a reminder – Robert Esche and Frank DuRoss.  They knew it all the time.  They were the sales staff before there ever was anything to sell – and did it.    They did it.
 

Passenger Trains on NY City’s West Side Freight Line

Image1861. The Abraham Lincoln family pulled into New York City’s 30th Street Station at about 3:00 p.m. on February 19. 1865. Lincoln’s funeral train left on the journey from Washington to Springfield. That was the terminal for the Hudson River RR. When Vanderbilt bought it as well as the NY & Harlem RR, they built the connection between Spuytin Duyvil and Mott Haven and routed most Hudson River RR trains into Grand Central Depot.

The NYC&HR local passenger service was pretty much a connection at Spuyten Duyvil arrangement from the opening of the original Grand Central from the timetables I’ve seen ( See June 26, 1921 Employee Timetable). The opening of the Elevated reduced traffic considerably; the opening of the IRT finished off most ridership; the trolley and El, Trolley/IRT was quite a bit cheaper. A Nickel could get you all the way downtown from 125th St (especially on the IRT) — without the change at 30th, for example.

Somewhere along the line, I had understood that this limited passenger service was eliminated in 1918 during WW1. However, that was a temporary measure as seen by the 1921 timetable. One mystery solved. Tommy Meehan sent me a newspaper article from January 13, 1918 that explains it to be only temporary.

There was a passenger train called the “Dolly Varden”, a local train leaving 30th Street station on the west side going to Spuyten Duyvil. “This train became such a symbol both to railroaders and West Siders that for years it was continued on the time-table after it actually ceased to operate.”

I don’t know for sure why NYC kept those passenger trains on the West Side up to the 1930’s, but there were probably several reasons:
1. To carry employees down to 60th and 30th Streets, at least until the subway was put into service.
2. NY State Public Service Commission would not approve discontinuance.
3. Some U. S. Mail might have been handled locally, and maybe some company mail.
4. After they quit hauling passengers, and even into Penn Central, there were first class trains running between 30th St and Spuyten Duyvil for mail and express. No’s. 3 and 13 went to Chicago, and the 800 series trains ran to and from Harmon with head-end traffic to and from the west.
5. To preserve the franchise for passengers on the West Side. From a story that was in the June 15 1931 edition of the New York Times. The occasion was the final use of steam on the line. The final paragraph mentions the West Side passenger service, though it doesn’t seem very accurate. It sounds like what the reporter actually saw was a milk transfer run with a rider car attached for the crew. I do believe it is accurate insofar as the Tri-power units were probably used to haul the passenger trains. I’d be very surprised if they used MU cars, even to tow them, but of course it’s possible.

From a September 2007 discussion in TRAINS Magazine:
Daily except Sunday in 1934,
lv 30th St (0.00 miles) 0700
pass 60th St (1.66) 0715
depart 130th St (5.24) 0726
depart 152nd St (6.31) 0731
depart Fort Washington (7.48) 0737
depart Inwood (9.08) 0742
arrive Spuyten Duyvil (10.06) 0747 and the other three trains are similar.

Read a whole lot more on the West Side Freight Line.

 

Union Pacific Railroad’s New Cross-Border Facility Will Give Shippers More Options

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Union Pacific Railroad, one of the leading railroad networks in the U.S., announced the completion of its new rail facility in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. The facility involved an investment of more than $400 million and was scheduled to be operational in 2015. However, Union Pacific has managed to complete the facility a year ahead and shall be inaugurating it on May 28 2014. With the opening up of the facility, the traffic entering the area is expected to increase by 500 to 800 trucks per day. This will increase Union Pacific’s cross-border traffic with Mexico leading to growth in revenue.

Union Pacific’s Santa Teresa rail facility will cater to truck to rail conversions, fueling and inspection of locomotives, and crew changing facility. The facility is expected to increase Union Pacific’s employee count by 600 by the year 2025. New Mexico is also expected to see a benefit of over $500 million once the facility is operational.

There’s not much out here other than roads, warehouses and cacti — and now a sprawling Union Pacific Railroad intermodal terminal and fueling station. Secluded as it is, what happens at this $400 million facility in a desert framed by mountains ripples through UP’s 32,000-mile U.S. network and taps into one of the largest trends in transportation rail: domestic rail growth.

Santa Teresa Facility Is Strategically Located to Benefit From Mexico Trade

Union Pacific’s Mexico Shipments Are Expected To Grow Driven By Growth In Automobile Exports

Automotive shipments accounted for 45% of Union Pacific’s overall Mexico shipments in 2012.Additionally, Union Pacific caters to 90% of the automotive shipments in and out of Mexico. Therefore, growth in automotive exports from Mexico to U.S. will help drive growth in volumes and revenues for Union Pacific.

See more about “Union Pacific — the railroad established by Congress and Abraham Lincoln to span the continent

The Fabled Rutland Milk

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Pictured above is a “rider car” going through Troy, New York. Below is a milk car.

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So what was so spectacular about what was called the “Rutland Milk Train”? Well, it started out way up in New York State, ran across the top of the state, ran down the length of Vermont, then back through New York State into New York City! Used to go over Rutland Railroad’s “Corkscrew Division”, but when that track had no more on-line business, they cut through Troy. Besides the truck lobby, what killed the Rutland Milk was inability to sell Vermont milk in New York (Federal “milkshed” regulations). My goodness! Almost 500 miles!

The Rutland milk ran to Chatham as train 88 which held over for 90 minutes for the arrival of the northbound empties from the NYC on the Harlem Division. The trains were swapped over from one railroad to the other as the Rutland crew returned north with the empties. The Rutland milk train dropped one car at Mott Haven for the Bronx Terminal Market, dropped cars at 130th Street yard, and arrived at 60th Street yard at 3:20 a.m. In regards to the Rutland Milk trains, from the Jim Shaughnessy book: Trains #87 (northbound) and #88 (southbound) seem to be the milk trains that operated across the Rutland system to/from the New York Central connection at Chatham, NY. The “Corkscrew” division between Rutland and Chatham had little or no local business online, and was approved for abandonment in 1952. By the time #88 made the last run over the Rutland’s “Corkscrew” division to Chatham in May, 1953, the “milk train” looked more like a manifest local, with about 8 cars between the RS3 and the caboose. After the “corkscrew” was shut down, #88 ran via B&M & NYC trackage rights via Troy and Rensselaer to Chatham. On the last two pages of the book “Trackside in the Albany, NY Gateway”, there are shots of a Rutland train moving thru Rensselaer around 1960. The Rutland milk train had a long circuitous route, as cars came from Burlington and points north near the Canadian border as well. In the early 1950’s as trucks took over the bulk of the milk traffic from the railroads, the NY State legislation banned Vermont milk from being processed in NY state just about ending the Rutland’s milk into NY state, I think the Rutland took their business to Boston. On the Harlem Division, the station at Patterson was demolished after an interesting incident took place. Early one morning in August 1952, one of the cars of the eastbound Rutland milk train derailed as the train was passing by the station, crashing into the southeast corner of the station, and bringing other cars behind it off the rails, tearing up track a creating a big mess.

Rutland Milk running through MO Junction
Rutland Milk running through MO Junction

Here is the Rutland Milk running as a New York Central train from Chatham behind an Erie-built FM locomotive in the 1950’s.

Photo by Victor Zolinsky, courtesy of Wayne Koch.

Much of this information PLUS EVEN MORE is located on “Milk Trains In New York State”, “The New York Central Milk Business”, “Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg: The Rutland Connection” and “Harlem Division: The New York & Harlem Railroad Company”.

Both the D&H, and the Rutland milk trains had very interesting operations, starting out as passenger trains with milk cars cut in and out along the route until they hit a predetermined junction then split the passenger train and milk train for different destinations.

On milk trains in New York State, most railroad-owned cars were of the “milk can” variety while privately owned cars were bulk tank cars (usually two separate 3000 gallon tanks). The milk trains that traversed the New York Central’s Hudson Division at night were solid milk trains with a rider car on to the rear for the crew. An equipment breakdown from the mid to late 1940’s I picked up on the “Web” is as follows: General American Pfaudler (GPEX) 312 cars (1949), NYC 312 cars (1943), Erie 135 cars (1943), D&H 16 cars (1943), Rutland 43 cars (1943). The railroad owned cars above were AAR class: BM, while the GPEX were AAR class: BMT, as most private owned cars were classed.

Finally, here is an outstanding “first person” report on the “Rutland Milk”

The Milk Train

by George Cameron, 12/26/2005

While surfing I found Russ Nelson’s information on bicycling on the Rutland Railroad across Northern New York. I am an 83 year old retired radio station manager who, for a dozen years was a brakeman on the Rutland. In 1944 I was the baggage man on Trains 87-7 8-88 between Rutland, Vermont and Ogdensburg, N.Y. The milk train was numbered 87 and 88 on the main line and 7 and 8 on what was called the O&LC or Ogdenburg and lake Champlain. Our usual consist was a string of milk cars, empty north and westbound and loaded east and southbound, a combo smoker and baggage car, and a coach. We carried passengers but very few. We set the empties out and picked them up loaded on the return.

It is over 200 miles from Rutland to Ogdensburg. There were three crews running two trains. Two were O&LC crews and one, mine, was a main division crew. We changed engine crews at Alburg, Vt. The engine crews were mainline on the mainline and O&LC on the O&LC. Our power was usually 70 class hand fired locomotives. Norwood was a bustling place. Not a big town, but a major rail connection between the Rutland and the New York Central. There was a pretty good sized yard there.

Ogdensburg was a lovely town as I remember. I saw a lot of it because we had a day off every three and it was in Ogdensburg so the job was not the most desireable for a main line guy living in Rutland.

The principal topographical obstacle on the route, as I remember was a major hill at Churubusco, New York. My fellow brakeman was a man named Walter Hack. The conductor was James Alexander. The O&LC conductors were Ellis K. Stone who was called Pee Wee. And Adam Loffler who was called Rummy.

What I remember about that northcountry is how cold it was. Flat country with high wind, drifting snow and below zero temps. It was a tough job setting out those cars in winter and picking them up.

When we came into Rutland with the loads they were immediately directed to New York on an express train. No stops between Rutland and Chatham New York then down the Harlem Division of the New York central to be in New York city in early a.m. The only stop was North Bennington VT to water the locomotive and shovel coal forward for the stoker. Our crews went from Rutland to Chatham with a turn around and return with empty cars.

On our day off we sometimes took the ferry across the St. Lawrence to Prescott Ont to have a cold Canadian beer and do some shopping. It as something to do. I’m sure those towns are all different today. Chateguay, Burke, Norwood, Bombay, Ogdensburg. The railroad is gone the people are gone the cows are gone. Different world today. But you brought back some memories and made me think thoughts I have not though in a half century.

 

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Automotive EDI – Tying The Strings Together

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In our article on “EDI Goes Deep”, we first encounter the concept of “regional” networks. These developed over the years, but now that everybody is going global, how has the auto industry adapted? Like instead of everybody having to join all these regional groups, how have they “gone global” How do we bring these regional centers together?

Everything starts with Industry Associations. The automotive industry has developed a number of industry associations. These associations provide standards for how automotive companies exchange information electronically with each other. With global expansion in recent years, the industry associations around the World now work closely with each other so that automotive companies can set up new plants and onboard new business partners as quickly as possible.

Read more: http://www.ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/industry-updates/10487-automotive-edi-tying-the-strings-together#ixzz2zsZxrtRb

 

SAP Brings Supply Chain Control Towers Out Of The Closet

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As our faithful readers know, we have covered Supply Chain Control Towers for quite a while. Now everybody is getting into the act. SAP just announced SCM Control Towers are a new product offering.

See Scott Koegler’s article on SAP and SCM Control Towers.

SAP’s recent conference – SAPinsider – was held recently in Las Vegas. That isn’t really much news in itself. But one of the key revelations from the conference was its announcement that the company will be releasing something we at ec-bp.com have been talking about for quite a while… a Supply Chain Control Tower.

A quick search on ec-bp.com for Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT) shows more than 20 entries that provide a fairly complete description and explanation of just what SCCTs are, should be, need in order to be successful.

Our own Ken Kinlock has devoted considerable time and expertise to providing this information, and at this point the resources he has compiled may comprise the most comprehensive description of SCCT function and operation available. Whether it is indeed the largest compilation, it is at least a great place to start your exploration.

 

UTICA COMETS: The Surprise Kids

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The season did not start out well. The Utica Comets were winless in their first 10 games in their inaugural season in the American Hockey League, and they struggled mightily through the first couple of months.

I wouldn’t say worried,” said coach Travis Green, who was making his professional debut behind the bench. “I had high expectations of starting the year off right. There were some trying times for our coaching staff. There definitely was a time we wondered if we were doing the right things.”

The 0-8-1-1 start put the Comets in an enormous hole. That, plus a six-game winless streak in early January and an epic collapse against the Syracuse Crunch on April 5 that cost them two crucial points in the standings didn’t help at all.

But despite a dearth of goal-scoring – 2.46 goals per game, 26th in the 30-team league – the Comets eventually figured it out. After an 8-3 home loss to the Albany Devils on Jan. 17, they went 24-12-3-1 to finish 35-32-5-4, two points out of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The desperate run over the last three months, and a season-long penchant for playing dramatic, one-goal games (24-22 in 46 of them) provided a lot of drama, and seemed to win over the majority of fans, thousands of whom saluted the team wildly after Saturday’s finale, a 2-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

 

Guys had a better understanding of how Travis wanted us to play, and when Cal (O’Reilly) came in,” he said. “(O’Reilly) provided a lot of things, and not just points – leadership and skills, on and off the ice.”

Green felt the team played better than its record early.

We had young guys in goal, we had young guys on defense,” he said. “Our team had never played together. It seems simple, but it isn’t. Even how your voice sounds matters. … When we added Husky (Kent Huskins) and O’Reilly, it made a difference. Both goalies (Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata) began developing after 15 or 20 games. That might be the biggest thing.”

Green plans to pound home the lessons learned this season next season.

Pat Conacher, the Stanley Cup winner and former Utica Devils captain who is the team’s director of operations, said he doesn’t know if all or any of the players who fall under the AHL’s veteran rule – Pelletier, O’Reilly, Huskins, Colin Stuart, Benn Ferriero, Alex Biega – will be back, or short-term vets like Brandon DeFazio, the only Comet to play every game this season, who had his best year in three AHL seasons at 17-17 -34 and plus-6.

He does know he is looking for better results as the Comets try to win and develop talent for the parent Vancouver Canucks.

It is not satisfactory,” he said. “The goal is to not only make the playoffs, but to win championships, every year. … They all want to be in the NHL. They have to do their work down here. Every game is important, first to last. If they play 12 minutes or 15 minutes, they have to make themselves the very best they can be in those minutes. The kids have to learn that down here.”

Read more about the surprise kids

 

Omnichannel Nirvana

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This is a guest post by Scott Koegler

It seems we’ve been talking about omnichannel selling for a long time now. Maybe it’s only been the last 5 years or so that the topic has risen to the level of certified buzzword, but for the majority of consumers who shop online, it’s been a very long 5 years… and even at that, has yet to deliver on their expectations.

Forrester’s study for Accenture and hybris looks at the gap between what retail customers want or expect from their shopping experiences, and what retailers are currently delivering. To say that they’ve identified a gap would be an understatement – and neither the customers nor the retailers can really be blamed.

Consumers don’t see the disjointed technology behind the retailer, and they don’t care that it exists. The retail consumer expects to find the same products in the store, in a printed catalog, and online. They see no line between the different delivery channels. A common expectation is that they can place an order online and pick the item up at the store. In fact, the report says that a full 50% of consumers expect this kind of capability from their retailers. And that follows from their other expectation held by a full 71% that they should be able to view all in-store inventory online. With these kinds of expectations it’s no wonder customers are disappointed by their multichannel shopping expectations – even though the word ‘multichannel’ is nowhere to be found in their vocabulary.

What do retail shoppers want? Aside from price, they want FAST delivery. Our desire for instant gratification is well documented. And when all shopping was the in-store kind, retailers played on that by packing the checkout lines with impulse buys. So that we consumers were able to go to the store, pick up what we wanted and walk out with it – plus a few more goodies.

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