We all know ways omnichannel retail strategies can fail. It’s easy to think of real-life examples, because even though we’re retailers and retail IT specialists, we’re also shoppers. You probably can recall a time when a retailer didn’t meet your expectations, and you were disappointed. And you probably want to make sure that situation doesn’t occur with your own customers.
Often, the culprit behind omnichannel misses is a non-integrated retail system. When this is the case, the solution is a digital platform that delivers integrated business systems and applications.
For example, consider these three problems and solutions:
- You Don’t Have the Right Items In Stock. As shoppers, we’ve probably all experienced the disappointment of rushing to a store or website to buy a hot item only to find it was out of stock. A digital store platform can help you minimize the chances of that happening. When your business systems and applications communicate with each other, you can gather the business intelligence you need for better replenishment planning. The data you collect on demand in each of your locations during different times of the year allow you to more accurately forecast your inventory needs and order inventory so you have the right stock, in the right quantities, at the right stores. Not only will you lower the chances you will disappoint customers by not having what they want — but you will also lower chances that you wind up with costly overages and profit-killing markdowns.
Retailers enjoy ROI from digital platforms when they use them for replenishment planning. We’ve found iVend Retail customers achieve a gross margin improvement over 2% on a five-year term, a savings of 4% of sales inventory carrying costs, and an increase of almost half of an inventory turn (equivalent to savings of almost 40% of sales).
- Online Shoppers Don’t Get What They Order. As an online shopper, have you ever placed an order only to get a “substituted’ item or to receive only three of the five items you wanted with a promise of store credit? Your omnichannel retail business can’t settle for hit-and-miss fulfillment. You have to deliver because, let’s face it, there are plenty of other websites where your customers can shop.
As I will share in my upcoming RSPA RetailNOW 2016 education session, a digital store platform enables your eCommerce site to update inventory changes and communicate with in-store systems to reflect real-time item availability. Your digital store platform can also help you create a single view of inventory across all of your locations and warehouses so you can fulfill from stores when necessary.
The dollars-and-cents impact here is easy to understand: fewer returns. Also consider, however, the return your business would have from delighting customers and building loyalty, instead of driving customers away.
- Your BOPIS Strategy Isn’t Working. Want to anger your customers? Let them believe an order is ready for pick up in your store when it’s not. Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) offers are a great way to give your customers the best of both worlds with online browsing and in-store pickup, but you have to have a strategy that provides them with positive experiences. Research summarized in our Great Omnichannel Expectations report revealed more than half of North American shoppers have ordered an item online for pick up in store — but 25% said the in-store pickup process needs to be improved.
A digital store platform gives you the tools to build your BOPIS strategy — updating eCommerce, inventory management, shipping, and in-store systems and making sure the right people are notified that there is an order that needs to be fulfilled and when and where it needs to happen. You can also arrange to notify the customer by text or email when the item is ready.
With the growing popularity of BOPIS, it’s important to make sure you can deliver what you promise to stay competitive and to maintain this revenue stream.
The Good News
You can correct all of these problems.
If you’ve cobbled together an omnichannel retail strategy based on disjointed systems, leaving your team uninformed and keeping your data in silos, it’s time to consider a better way of doing things.
Our e-book “The Digital Store Platform: Better data for survival in a customer-centric world” provides more information on how a digital store platform can support a successful omnichannel retail strategy.
Paula will present “The Digital Store Platform” at Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) RetailNOW 2016 next month to share with channel partners how selling a digital store platform can help their businesses by enabling their merchant clients to provide great customer experiences. Register to meet with our team at the event and be entered to win a free iPad mini.