Omnichannel is taking over, this is how you keep up.
Whether you’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a physical store, one thing is on the front mind of retailers: giving you the most seamless shopping experience possible. “Omnichannel” has become the retail hot-button word, and retailers are hyper-focused on giving consumers what they want, when they want it, via any channel they prefer.
Nowadays the retail world is full of options, all intended to provide savvy shoppers with the best price, service, product and convenience. Think of it this way: a senior citizen wants to buy a new television. He may ask his grandchild for recommendations, then go to the store and purchase the television. That same grandchild might spend a long time searching online, reading up on websites, adding – then abandoning items in carts on mobile and desktop, before finally purchasing because he got an email with an exciting offer. This is why omnichannel selling is so important.
However once companies have a vision of this, many jump right into functional requirements, skipping the important step of defining the actual customer experience. Creating a memorable experience in the customer lifecycle is critical and will map the needs of your customer segment, aligning to your brand values.
To begin, it is important to determine your target customer; consider who your most profitable customers are. Once you have identified this target segment, you must determine the customer’s critical needs. Finally, once you have determined what market needs you are going to address, it is time to align the critical customer needs with your brand value.
Currently 55% of traditional retailers’ customers are omnichannel shoppers. Among these companies, $45 million is lost due to lack of cross-channel integration for every billion dollars in revenue. Additionally, 40% say they face challenges in automating order capture and processing, integrating inventory, and standardizing order management from different order types across channels.
As you begin to baseline the current customer journey for each segment, you need to identify the high points and the low points along the way. Define the journey from the emotional perspective of the customer. It is key to remember that you may have different journeys for each customer segment, so include the emotional element and go through what it is like to be the customer by putting yourself in their place. Step back and look at the journey to see if anything is unacceptable or consistently causing customer churn or cart abandonment. Be sure to note what the experience is, and what emotion you are leaving the customer with at the end of their journey. If you are looking to create a memorable experience, it is not effective unless it is remembered – if you don’t remember the experience, you won’t be loyal to the brand.
As you map out journeys, consider which communication options you are giving your target customers and how that aligns with what really matters to them. For interactions within the journeys, identify relevant customer channels. Whether your goal is to improve customer experience, reduce customer effort, improve brand reputation or deliver an omnichannel experience, it all starts with standing out.
An effective, cost efficient omnichannel supply chain requires a singular view of order and inventory and the ability to fill different order types through a single distribution network. The solution must be able to seamlessly process orders regardless of whether they are bulk shipments to stores, a few items destined for a consumer’s home, in-store pickup, or one of the new pickup options such as Packcity Parcel Lockers.
A distributed order management system (DOM), can process orders from multiple channels and provide a single view of inventory across channels and reduce out-of-stocks. If something is out of stock in the store, employees can check the inventory elsewhere and ship it directly to a shopper’s home. A DOM makes sure that orders are processed faster, more accurately and less expensively. Currently apparel and footwear retailers (26%) are the most avid users of DOM technology, followed by grocery/food beverage (18%) and 16% more in the process of adding one. Companies like Gap have been working towards converting distribution centers to ship both direct and retail fulfillment out of one inventory. By upgrading this technology Gap has maximized its existing space without adding any new buildings.
Obviously, a retailer’s goal is to move their inventory; no one wants merchandise sitting still for long. However, when a retailer uses several suppliers, different freight services, and serves multiple channels, tracking inventory becomes quite a challenge. Having an inventory management system helps to monitor the flow of merchandise from the manufacturer, to the warehouse, to the point of sale. This makes it easier for a retailer to keep a centralized record of items and provides a single source of truth for each product location and number in stock. Returns are seamlessly tracked as well, and errors are minimized.
Next, retailers must have an omnichannel shipping strategy in-place. In order to easily ship from all your inventory sources such as warehouses, stores, 3PLs and manufacturers, you need to make sure you have drop shipping capabilities, routing rules, the appropriate integrations and much more. Shipping software allows you to do all of this while increasing the chances of meeting a 2-day delivery commitment. Ship-from-store is an omnichannel fulfillment strategy that today’s top retailers are leveraging in order to cut shipping costs while delivering orders to their customers in record time. For instance, in a recent Forrester Report, Kohl’s noted that they increased their speed to customers by ½ day overall by leveraging their stores as part of their omnichannel strategy.
Looking ahead, many leading omnichannel retailers are going to be implementing and testing various consumer fulfillment options and e-commerce strategies. Currently 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase at some point in their lives, and four in five (80%) have done so in the last month alone. The obvious intention of providing omnichannel service is the same as a brick and mortar always has been: make the supply chain more flexible and acquiescent to consumers’ many needs. Retailers like American Girl, Trek and Backcountry.com have all made the decision to serve their customers smarter, faster and better. They have implemented ProShip’s flexible and scalable shipping software, and have been delivering a seamless delivery experience leading to repeat customers, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Download our Multi-Carrier Shipping Software eBook.