The birthday gift – a modern shopping tale

It’s a heart-stopping parenting moment; your child is going to a party this afternoon and you feel that cold stab of realisation – you’ve forgotten to buy a present. Faced with the choice of turning your child into a social pariah, popping some money in a card, or finding the right gift in two hours flat, you do what any doting parent would do, and head for the keyboard.

You start browsing and find the perfect gift – and can see that your local branch has it in stock. You don’t want to risk it being sold while you’re getting there, so you reserve it online and jump in the car. It’s ready and waiting for you – you simply pay and walk out with a smile on your face knowing you’ve saved your child from party purdah.

The party is going great guns – until the birthday boy opens his presents and yours is the third of the same gift. “Never mind, I’ll change it”, you grin through gritted teeth. No time over the weekend, so you take it to a city store close to your work. They happily take back the duplicate item and you buy a replacement gift.

The new normal

I don’t suppose anyone reading this would find that story unusual – it’s just what we, as consumers, expect, what we demand. It’s just one example of the new forms of customer journey – a blend of online and in-store.

It’s true omnichannel at its best. But its apparent simplicity belies a planned, strategic and expertly implemented system.

Omnichannel is a much-used, and just as much mis-used term. It is easily confused with multi-channel.

So let’s start with some definitions: Multi-channel is offering your customer multiple ways to transact – most commonly a store, a web-site, maybe an app. But the channels are separate, not integrated.

Omnichannel means that those channels are linked, so that a customer can hop between channels during a single purchase journey. Just like in our story.

True omnichannel – with inventory at its heart

Delivering true omnichannel requires a well-integrated system, underpinned by a single view of key information, available in real-time to every channel. A single view of inventory system is actually the hero of our story. It is what enabled our parent to see which stores had stock of the chosen gift, it’s what allowed the store to see that the item had been reserved and it’s what made a return of the goods to a different store welcomed.

A single view of inventory is the ‘glue’ that unites the retailer’s different channels, turning multi-channel into omnichannel.

New customer journeys

Our story is just one example of the type of transaction enabled by a single view of inventory system – others include

  • Browse online, buy online, collect in store
  • Click and collect – research and buy online, collect in-store
  • Reserve and collect – Research online, reserve, try in store, buy in store
  • Buy in-store, collect in another store
  • Buy in-store or online, delivery to home
  • Buy online, return in-store

The important thing is that whatever the customer’s path to doing business with you, it is underpinned by the same data, a single version of the truth, powered by a single view of inventory POS system.

Without a single view of inventory system, our story would have looked very different – our stressed parent could still have decided on a gift, but been left ringing around stores to find out who had it, and risked it being gone before they got there. The 2-hour deadline would have come and gone and we would have had a less than happy ending.

Expert help for retailers

iVend helps retailers to implement a single view of inventory POS system, helping them to move from multi-channel to true omnichannel and enabling multiple different customer journeys. And the more transaction options you can offer your customers, the more likely they are to shop with you and stay shopping with you.

To find out more about how iVend can help you build a single view of inventory system, click here.

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