Keeping up with the latest fashion trends for consumers today is all about snagging that right item, at the right price, when and where they need it. To stay on trend, consumers have become accustomed to engaging with merchants through the channel of their choice and at a time that’s convenient to them. One moment they’re scrolling through Instagram, the next browsing your eCommcere site or on the road to your brick-and-mortar outlet to snag that unique find!
As a fashion retailer, this evolution in customer behaviors can present a number of unique challenges to you. There are, however, technology solutions that can help. Omnichannel solutions that are designed specifically with apparel and fashion retailers in mind can help you overcome challenges to reap the benefits of building long-term relationships with loyal customers and to engage new customers in memorable ways.
Here are three areas in which omnichannel solutions can help fashion retailers provide an exceptional customer experience across all channels:
- Inventory Visibility
In survey after survey, customers confirm that what they want is to find the products they need, when they need them, and to choose a convenient delivery method. Without technology that improves inventory visibility, this can be a tall order for fashion retailers. It’s not possible to stock every item in every size in each store and your legacy system may not give you the ability to view inventory across all channels — which can mean disappointed customers and lost sales. With an omnichannel solution, however, you gain visibility over your entire inventory. Your team will gain the ability to search inventory from the point of sale (POS), enabling your associates to locate out-of-stock items in a warehouse or in other stores. Similarly online shoppers will be able to find the items they are looking for on demand, with facilitated delivery or shipping to a local store for customer pickup.
- Order Fulfillment
An omnichannel solution for fashion retailers also should support options for order fulfillment including:
- Reserve online, pick up in store. This system enables a customer who locates an item online to reserve it until they arrive at the store that same day or the next day, making no payment in advance. This can be especially helpful to your customers engaged in the growing trend of “webrooming,” the practice of researching items online and then going to a physical store to see, touch – and, in the case of fashion – try on the item. By indicating the availability of the item in the store and enabling the customer to hold it until they arrive demonstrates your commitment to providing exceptional customer service.
- Buy online, pick up in store. Some of your customers may prefer to pick up an item after they purchase it online rather than have it delivered, concerned with damage or wrinkling during the shipping process. They may also be concerned with a package dropped on their doorstep where it could sit throughout the workday, exposed to the elements. Your omnichannel solution transmits the order to the customer’s preferred location, helps your staff prepare pick orders and invoices, and alerts the customer when the item is ready for pickup.
- Free home delivery. If your customer does prefer home delivery, to be competitive, you should offer it for free. If you choose not to offer delivery at no charge on all orders, provide a way for customers to have or free delivery, such as with a loyalty club membership or reaching a minimum purchase amount, managed with your software solution.
- Credit Sales Associates and Stores Fairly. Make sure that the processes and sales incentives you have in place are fair when it comes to crediting stores and sales associates. If eCommerce and a physical store are involved in fulfilling an order, consider ways to credit both. The alternative could be customers who are not treated equitably because their sale won’t be credited to the associate or to the location. Likewise, consider your return policy. Regardless of the channel through which the customer purchased the item, customers want to handle returns in a way that is convenient to them. This can place retailers in a difficult position of not having a way to enter the item into stock at a particular store — other than to put it on a sale rack. Omnichannel solutions for fashion retailers can help support your restocking, crediting, and return policies so you can handle these situations is an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Omnichannel solutions can help fashion retailers manage these issues efficiently, but also in a way that let’s your customers know you are committed to providing the best shopping experience to them – regardless of how they choose to engage with you.