Retail Express CEO and founder Aaron Blackman details five key capabilities retailers need to offer an omnichannel experience.
In the space of less than a year COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the demands on retailers to deliver online-centric shopping experiences and introduce fulfilment processes that are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but are central to meeting customer expectations for safety and convenience.
However, for most retailers there is still a lot of business change required to meet and exceed these expectations.
Survival and success is no longer just about rolling out these new omnichannel practices, it’s about doing it quick enough to keep up with competitors.
Most retailers will need to accept they need to embrace omnichannel transformation that enables them to introduce new practices and processes in a much more agile manner than ever before.
At its core, omnichannel transformation is the realignment of technology and processes to serve customers seamlessly and profitably across all touch points and quickly adapt business models.
A successful omnichannel transformation will also enable you to diversify your business so you can be more resilient.
If one channel changes (like brick and mortar has during lockdown periods), other channels are there to fulfilment demand and drive sales.
The new normal will be agile, integrated omnichannel software systems that will enable retailers to switch different practices on and off based on what is happening in the market.
Omnichannel best practice
The following omnichannel capabilities are now becoming critical for every retailer:
Click & Collect - the quality of your eCommerce store, Click & Collect services and home delivery speed have become key factors in who consumers decide to shop with.
Instant, or at least same day Click & Collect is now the benchmark, and it’s the same for home delivery.
Cross-channel Vouchers - the opportunities from promotional and gift vouchers are wide-ranging and high impact, however many retailers aren’t realising their full potential offering a disconnected experience with vouchers only able to be purchased and redeemed in-store or online - not both.
Ship from Store fulfilment – one of the ways that retailers have leveraged store inventory is with a ship from store fulfilment model.
Those retailers that can enable omnichannel fulfillment options while strategically balancing cost and service will drive additional profitability and meet consumer expectations.
Endless Aisles and Special Orders – the idea of endless aisles and special orders is that you leverage your supplier’s ‘endless’ product range as well as available stock from your other stores, to offer a much wider range of stock than what you hold within your stores.
Automated Stock Replenishment – If you don’t have the right stock in the right store at the right time, you’re in trouble: consumers will find another retailer who can.
An automated replenishment system based on intelligent algorithms ensures that each store is optimally stocked based on actual demand and supply data rather than relying on gut instinct or minimum stock levels.
The outlook for 2021
In 2021, digital transformation will be the number one priority for retailers looking for ways to create agile businesses built to adapt to future disruptions.
Omnichannel will naturally be high on the agenda, with investment in the right technology stack and business processes to enable these capabilities.
Those retailers that have already embraced the latest omni-channel capabilities along with lean, agile operating models should be feeling very optimistic about the year ahead and beyond.
Retail Express is the leading omni-channel POS software for fashion and footwear retailers powering the growth of some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading omni-channel retail success stories. With more powerful tools and deeper data analytics capabilities, retailers can unlock the insights and practices needed to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. For more information and insights visit retailexpress.com.au.