Discussing the omni-channel approach with the John Lewis partnership
Colin Turner, Senior Programme Manager of Supply Chain Development at the John Lewis Partnership, took part in a Q&A with Stephanie Aslan to share his thoughts ahead of the E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 event
Hi Colin. In your opinion, what is key to simplifying the supply chain process?
You can’t get away from the fact that an omni-channel supply chain, particularly for a large or diverse business, is a complicated thing. It’s made more complicated because few of us have the luxury of designing a supply chain on a ‘green field site’.
More often we have to knit together a collection of existing supply chains, perhaps built to serve different business units or the result of acquisitions, with the aim of making something cohesive. The key to making the supply chain process as simple as possible is to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve in developing your supply chain, taking into account the desire for simplicity of process and always remembering the needs of your customers.
If you get that vision clear and make sure it is understood throughout the organisation, then the rest will follow, albeit with a lot of hard work.
The challenge is joining it all up so that we get a really clear end-to-end picture that allows us to keep everything running smoothly as well as exposing trends or emerging issues. This congress coming up in London presents a rare opportunity to discuss the very real challenges of omni-channel retailing with peers from across the retail industry.
How important is it to understand customer delivery expectations, in order to create a responsive fulfilment service and retain a customer base
It is vital to have a good understanding of the customers’ expectations, both for the service that they want and also what they are prepared to pay for it. Getting the balance of these right means you can build a proposition that offers real value to the customer, and also contributes to a healthy profit level for the business.
Tell us one thing about you, which you would like Supply Chain Digital readers to know.
I am a John Lewis ‘lifer’, starting my career many years ago in IT and taking a rather sprawling route towards my current role in supply chain strategy.
How critical is visibility across the supply chain process?
Visibility is incredibly important. The old adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure remains true. Taking that a step further you can’t measure what you can’t see, which means we need visibility.
The good news on this is that modern supply chain systems, and even the embedded technology in our equipment, are a data-rich environment so there is no shortage of information about what’s going on in the supply chain.
The challenge is joining it all up so that we get a really clear end-to-end picture that allows us to keep everything running smoothly as well as exposing trends or emerging issues that we might need to get ahead of.
What aspects of E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to hearing what other retailers are doing in this space, and where they see the threats and opportunities coming from in the years ahead.
The industry has moved forward an enormous extent where e-commerce and omni-channel is concerned. How disruptive has this shift been to established retail processes?
Any big change is disruptive, and the seamless merging of shopping and fulfilment channels is certainly a big one. As well as re-engineering elements of the supply chain process, there is a big cultural shift for everyone from head office through to the frontline staff who directly serve the customer. The key to making the supply chain process as simple as possible is to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve in developing your supply chain.
People are keen to hear your presentation at E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015; can you give a brief introduction of the main aspects of your talk?
In my session I will talk about John Lewis’s journey from single to multi and then omni-channel retailing, highlighting some of the key challenges we have met along the way and how we have been able to take a strategic approach to building a sustainable omni-channel business.
For more information on the E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 event, please visit: http://www.ecommerce-supply-chain.com/