Growth in omni-channel risks diluting consumer products and retail sector profit

London, 3 February 2015

  • Share
EY - View the online version
 
EY - Download the PDF
  • Omni-channel will be the key driver of growth, but only 38% of senior executives say omni initiatives have a positive impact on profit margins
  • 81% believe the supply chain is no longer fit for purpose as new channels emerge
  • Companies must build a more responsive, integrated supply chain and improve consumer visibility

Omni-channel is fast becoming the key driver for consumer products and retail sector growth, but few can make it profitable using the traditional supply chain. That is according to Re-engineering the supply chain for the omni-channel of tomorrow - a joint survey conducted by EY and The Consumer Goods Forum drawing on the views of 42 senior executives from the world’s largest consumer products and retail companies.

Omni-channel provides consumers with a seamless shopping experience across multiple platforms, including online and in-store. Amidst record online sales over the 2014 holiday season, consumers now have higher expectations than ever about how they purchase and return goods across these channels.

Yet, while effective omni strategies yield clear competitive advantages for companies, only 38% of respondents say their initiatives have a positive impact on profit margins.

The supply chain is not fit for purpose

Eighty-one percent of respondents state that the current supply chain is not fit for purpose for omni-channel.

Annual global online growth is set to soar to 15% between 2014 and 2019, while bricks and mortar will account for just 5% of growth. In a drive to meet this new demand, many companies have simply annexed e-commerce systems, rather than developing integrated processes. To succeed, firms will need to redesign the supply chain to address increasing complexities.

Andrew Caveney, EY’s Global Supply Chain and Operations Leader, says: “Reengineering the omni-channel supply chain must be a priority for consumer goods companies and retailers if they are going to remain relevant to both the consumer and their shareholders.”

A consumer-centric approach

The report recommends placing omni-channel at the center of operations to understand how to meet consumers’ ever-changing needs and expectations. This will require achieving end-to-end visibility across the supply chain by adopting new technologies and analyzing where companies can add value.

The US accounted for the largest number of downstream transactions — approximately 56% — while Asia (including Australia) and Europe accounted for about 16% and 18% of total share respectively. While European activity fell 30% in the wake of continued economic uncertainty and supply/demand imbalances in 2014, the downstream segment shows no signs of slowing.

Firms need to tread a delicate balance between efficiency and agility; embedding flexible systems that respond to customers’ priorities is essential. Notably, only 24% of respondents believe they have a strategy to achieve this.

David Jones, Co-Chair of The Consumer Goods Forum Supply Chain Committee, says: “Getting to know your consumer and striking the right balance between agility and efficiency is at the heart of omni-channel. This is not an overnight process and could require an overhaul of everything from corporate structures to IT systems.”

Bold and committed leadership

To manage the transition, leadership must commit to change by rebuilding organizational structures from the ground up and resolving conflict among the workforce. Indeed, 37% of respondents identified lack of leadership support as a key barrier to success.

Caveney says: “It rests with leadership to create the impetus for change and cultural shifts. We advise companies to create teams that mix people with more ‘disruptive’ capabilities and those who are more aligned with the existing model.”

-ends-

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

How EY’s Global Consumer Products team can help your business
Strategic trends are driving the next wave of supply chain evolution, creating different challenges and opportunities in industry sectors and services. With more than 2,400 supply chain and operations professionals across 150 countries, EY has a truly globally integrated supply chain organization addressing clients’ most complex supply chain transformational problems and delivering innovative, superior and sustainable results.

Consumer products companies are operating in a brand new order, a challenging environment of spiraling complexity and unprecedented change. Demand is shifting to rapid-growth markets, costs are rising, consumer behavior and expectations are evolving, and stakeholders are becoming more demanding.

To succeed, companies now need to be leaner and more agile, with a relentless focus on execution. Our Global Consumer Products Center enables our worldwide network of more than 17,500 sector-focused assurance, tax, transaction and advisory professionals to share powerful insights and deep sector knowledge with businesses like yours. This intelligence, combined with our technical experience, can assist you in making more informed strategic choices and help you execute better and faster.

Visit EY’s Consumer Products homepage here: ey.com/UK/en/Industries/Consumer-Products.

Methodology
EY worked with the Consumer Goods Forum to survey 42 senior executives of large organizations in the consumer products and retail sectors. The interactive report was supplemented by in-depth interviews with select companies that had completed the survey. The respondent distribution is shown below:

  • 40% - More than US$25b
  • 24% - Between US$10b and US$25b
  • 24% - Between US$1b and US$10b
  • 10% - Less than US$1b

About The Consumer Goods Forum
The Consumer Goods Forum is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 2.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises 50 manufacturer and retailer CEOs.

The Forum’s mission is, “Bringing together consumer goods manufacturers and retailers in pursuit of business practices for efficiency and positive change across our industry benefiting shoppers, consumers and the world without impeding competition.” It provides a unique global platform for the development of global industry processes and standards as well as sharing best practices. Its activities are organized around the following strategic priorities: Sustainability, Product Safety, Health & Wellness and End-to-End Value Chain & Standards, each of which is central to better serving consumers.

The Consumer Goods Forum’s success is driven by the active participation of its members who together develop and lead the implementation of best practices along the value chain. With its headquarters in Paris and its regional offices in Washington, DC and Tokyo, The Consumer Goods Forum serves its members throughout the world.

For more information, please visit: theconsumergoodsforum.com.