Developing a Supply Chain Framework for Omni-channel Presence

Open Access
Fischer, Jenna Nicole
Area of Honors:
Supply Chain and Information Systems
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Dr. Robert Alexander Novack, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. John C. Spychalski, Honors Advisor
  • supply chain
  • omni-channel
  • jewelry manufacturing
The issue this thesis focuses on is how to develop an omni-channel presence for Company X, a high-end jewelry company, which means that each channel of distribution the company operates will act as one single channel. Many companies have investigated omni-channel supply chains to become more efficient and to better satisfy their customers’ needs. Companies like Amazon have increased customer expectations with their fast delivery capabilities and the emergence of e-commerce has made the supply chains for more channels of distribution complex, so omni-channel has become an influential method to improve the customer experience. While there is not extensive research on how to specifically address the supply chains of omni-channel companies due to companies often having very different supply chains to deliver their product or services, this thesis develops a framework for Company X to utilize. The research first began with a site tour of Company X’s distribution center. The tour provided details on the company’s practices and an opportunity to hear from numerous employees about Company X’s history, challenges, and supply chain. With that foundation, secondary research was gathered from many different resources to help understand the history of omni-channel, find examples of companies successfully implementing omni-channel and best practices, and analyze which changes Company X should make in order to develop it. Sears is the company used as a model for Company X’s changes. Based off the analysis of Company X’s current supply chain, numerous recommendations for supply chain changes were provided, some small and some more significant. The first main change recommend starts with inventory planning, because it is a step early on in the supply chain process and since omni-channel cannot be successful without one inventory plan. The supply chain cannot operate as if it is one channel if each channel is independently planned. The next recommendation is to change the inventory picking method to one pool of inventory and deviate from its method of reserving inventory. Company X should instead incorporate rules of intelligent sharing to allow for picks amongst different channels in the case of under or over forecasting. In addition, although Company X already has a date for implementing new technologies, it is recommended that their technology support a transparent view of inventory across all channels so that online orders constantly check product from the optimal location, even if that is not at the distribution center. Finally, the last main recommendation is that Company X makes their distribution center store-facing to provide customers with the ability to choose whether they want an item shipped or if they would like to pick up an item at a store or distribution center.