Retailers are being offered advice from all angles about how to shape their businesses for the omnichannel era – but a key starting point is ensuring they have eCommerce integration within their stores
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While the term “omnichannel” means different things to different retailers, I think everyone agrees the crux of it involves connecting channels and building a single view of stock and/or customers across channels – that entails various systems integration.
From working closely with the retail industry for several years now, I feel I’ve built a comprehensive picture of the main ways eCommerce integration supports retail success. Here’s my top five list:
1) Fulfil More Orders
A retail system with eCommerce integration allows organisations to offer the kind of endless aisle service associated with online trading, in their stores.At an industry event a few years ago, ASOS founder Nick Robertson said there will come a day when retailers are never out of stock because, with the right systems in place, they’ll only show available products online. The same can be said for stores with eCommerce integration because they can fulfil customer orders from alternative locations if they don’t hold the stock themselves.
Buy online, pick up in store, or click & collect as it’s known in some countries, is growing in popularity.Consumers keen to fit shopping into their busy lives are increasingly collecting online orders from shops – and eCommerce integration with store systems is crucial in support of this important service. Such platforms will help ensure the seamless experience customers received online is reflected in the store environment.
3) Deliver A Personal Service
Today’s shopper will typically have done their research and be up to date with products, prices, and special features.Where retailers stand out today is through providing a service tailored to individual consumers. One-to-one marketing based on previous purchasing behaviour is prevalent online – it is also a reality in store thanks to integrated omnichannel systems that staff can access when talking to their customers.
4) Be More Profitable
An integrated eCommerce suite allows retailers to fulfil customer orders as economically as possible. If it’s more cost effective to ship products from store than a warehouse, it makes sense to do that.Retailers are operating in challenging times. Having the single view of stock that eCommerce integration provides means key everyday decisions can be made with the bottom line in mind.
5) Customer Experience
The ways eCommerce integration supports retail success can all be neatly wrapped up under one umbrella term: improving customer experience.Gartner’s Augie Ray recently blogged that customer experience management is “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy”.I completely agree with this statement, and I believe it is a succinct way of summing up what all retailers are trying to achieve today.Shoppers assume what they see online – whether it’s a product or a service – will be available in a store, and retailers must meet those expectations. So, by ensuring store systems are rolled out with eCommerce integration, retailers are naturally shaping their operations in keeping with how customers now interact with their brands.If they achieve this, they will be well on their way to increasing the customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy they are all striving for.