As more brands adapt their operations to meet consumer demand, Columbia Sportswear has hired Emily Rompala to serve in the newly created position of senior vice president of omni-planning and fulfillment operations, the company announced last Friday.
As part of the new role, Rompala will oversee the company's international omni-planning team across all of its brands and channels. She will also take the lead on the company's omni-planning process and technology upgrades, the company said.
Rompala will also manage the company's fulfillment operations to guide its omnichannel efforts worldwide. She will report to Lisa Kulok, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer, per the announcement.
Throughout the pandemic, brands have been working to fulfill orders in various channels in an attempt to meet the changes in consumer shopping behavior. Hiring Rompala is part of an industry shift toward seamless omnichannel operations.
Columbia Sportswear, which owns the Columbia, Mountain Hardware, prAna and Sorel brands, cited Rompala's "decades of experience in planning and allocation within the apparel industry" in bringing her on. The appointment is part of a larger push toward digital at the company. Columbia on Thursday said that the direct-to-consumer e-commerce business grew 35% in Q1, and now accounts for 20% of the company's total sales.
Digital and direct-to-consumer are investment focuses for the retailer, and are "critical" to long-term profitable growth, CEO Tim Boyle said in an earnings call on the retailer's Q1 results.
"We're committed to driving sustainable and profitable long-term growth and investing in our strategic priorities: drive global brand awareness and growth through increased focused demand creation investments, enhance consumer experience and digital capabilities in all of our channels and geographies, expand and improve global direct-to-consumer operations with supporting processes and systems and invest in our people and optimize our organization across our portfolio of brands," Boyle said, according to a Motley Fool transcript.
As Columbia Sportswear focuses on its omnichannel operations, other brands are also adopting a more direct-to-consumer approach. With a strategy built on data and building out a seamless omnichannel experience, Nike has seen an uptick in DTC sales and overall revenue. Its competitor, Adidas, has also invested in a DTC strategy, focused on increasing DTC to 50% of net sales by 2025.
With the shift to online comes costs, though. While consumers used to be responsible for picking up their desired items, retailers are now responsible for omnichannel shopping logistics across a range of channels. However, profit margins from purchases are significantly reduced for curbside and BOPIS than shipping from distribution centers or in-store purchases, research from AlixPartners indicates.