3 Ways For Retailers To Support An Omni-Channel Strategy
The omni-channel retail movement has transformed into a fast-moving train, and a seamless retail experience is what customers expect going forward.
If you are a retailer trying to get on board, consider making changes in three key areas to transform your store into an omni-channel, “bricks-and-clicks” structure.
Re-evaluate employee commission structure: When your customers have the option to obtain products from any channel, how will you compensate your commission-based employees? If someone orders a product on your e-commerce website and picks it up in the store, can a sales associate still earn a commission? What should you do for an employee who spends an hour assisting an in-store customer only to have that shopper order online for the free shipping?
With omni-channel retailing, the employer must figure out new ways to compensate and track productivity of commissioned sales staff. This means embracing the fact that customers want the flexibility to buy products through any channel, which also means employees should not steer customers toward a particular medium in order to receive commission.
To avoid the “showrooming” scenario mentioned earlier — where the sales rep provided in-store information but the shopper bought online — it’s important to give the customer an incentive by making the price the same in-store and on the website.
Here’s another suggestion: If a customer orders online but chooses in-store pick up, give the store manager or associate credit if they “upsell” the customer with other products when they arrive to complete their purchase.
Revamp your inventory control: A key omni-channel feature is the flexibility for a customer to order online and pick up at the store. But for this process to work, a retailer must know what inventory is available in the store, and must have a system for securing the item from the store the store inventory to ensure that the item will be there for the customer to pick up.
One consideration is for your e-commerce website to display only a certain percentage of what you actually have in the store. For example, if you have 10 items of a specific product in stock, the website only has access to five.
Another option is to have a process where a customer can reserve a product through the store’s website, but have a sales associate check and take the item off the shelf before confirming that the product is available.
Retailers can use a retail ERP system to help track stock, but there must be a human process in place for securing the item that the customer purchased online.
Investigate fulfillment processes that create silos or barriers: Eliminate barriers that make your customers and employees prefer one channel over another. This requires having a system in place that shows what you have available to sell online and in the store, what products are available to ship to any address or for ship-to-store, and what products can be ordered online and picked up in the store.
To avoid a situation in which a customer “showrooms” a 60-inch TV — viewing it in the store but then buying it online — allow them to order from the store and have it shipped to their home. The most effective omni-channel retail operation includes fulfillment options where shipping costs are the same whether a product ships from a store or from a warehouse.
These are three key components retailers should examine to ensure their operations are ready for omni-channel retailing. Embracing this mindset can require considerable adjustment, including redefining processes and breaking down organizational barriers to create a seamless shopping experience.