As more brands adapt their operations to meet consumer demand, Columbia Sportswear has hired Emily Rompala to fill the newly created role of senior vice president of omni-planning and execution operations, the company announced last Friday.
In this new role, Rompala will oversee the company’s international omni-planning team across all of its brands and channels. She will also lead the company’s omniplanning process and technology upgrades, the company said.
Rompala will also manage the company’s order fulfillment operations to guide its omnichannel efforts around the world. She will report to Lisa Kulok, Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, as per the announcement.
Throughout the pandemic, brands have struggled to fulfill orders through various channels in order to respond to changes in consumer buying behavior. The hiring of Rompala is part of an industry shift towards transparent omnichannel operations.
Columbia Sportswear, which owns the Columbia, Mountain Hardware, prAna, and Sorel brands, cited Rompala’s “decades of planning and allocation experience within the apparel industry” to engage it. This appointment is part of a larger push to go digital in the company. Columbia said on Thursday that direct-to-consumer e-commerce increased by 35% in the first quarter, and now represents 20% of the company’s total sales.
Digital and direct-to-consumer sales are areas of investment for the retailer and are “Critical” for profitable long-term growthCEO Tim Boyle said on a first quarter earnings conference call for the retailer.
“We are committed to generating sustainable and profitable long-term growth and investing in our strategic priorities: driving global brand awareness and growth through increased targeted investments for demand creation, improving customer experience and digital capabilities across all of our channels and geographies, develop and improve direct-to-consumer global operations with supporting processes and systems, invest in our people and optimize our organization across our brand portfolio, ”said Boyle said, according to a transcript by Motley Fool.
While Columbia Sportswear focuses on its omnichannel operations, other brands are also taking a more direct-to-consumer approach. With a data-driven strategy and building a seamless omnichannel experience, Nike has saw an increase in DTC sales and overall turnover. Its competitor, Adidas, also invested in a DTC strategy, focused on increasing DTC to 50% of net sales by 2025.
However, there are costs associated with switching to the Internet. While consumers were previously responsible for picking up the items they wanted, now retailers are responsible for omnichannel purchasing logistics through a range of channels. However, the profit margins of purchases are considerably reduced for sidewalk and BOPIS that shipping from distribution centers or in-store purchases, says AlixPartners research.