Why Must Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Offer Shoppers an Omni-Channel Experience?
Brick-and-mortar retailers have a big advantage over online-only retailers like Amazon.com — they can offer shoppers instant gratification. But to compete, they must offer an omni-channel experience.
When consumers order through an e-commerce retailer, they must wait for the product to be delivered. And it’s usually delivered at a time that’s most convenient for the delivery company, not the customer.
As an article on the Retail Info Systems News website explains, delivery remains a major sticking point for consumers when it comes to e-commerce transactions. About two-thirds of online shoppers abandon their carts due to delivery prices or timing; it’s often easier or more cost-effective to drive to the store and buy the product.
The big drawback of e-commerce always has been that consumers have to wait for what they bought to arrive. That’s why it makes sense for retailers to allow customers to order products online and then pick them up at a store. It’s a great way to drive online sales while ensuring that brick-and-mortar stores play a role in that process.
Brick-and-mortar retailers could serve as “hyper-local warehouses,” the Retail Info Systems News article notes, with customers picking up their online orders the same day. Many retailers use a manual process when it comes to this. In other words, they send an email, make a phone call or fax a document to the store to have employees at the store put the products ordered aside and wait for the customer to pick them up. However, if there are a lot of orders, that manual process would quickly overwhelm the retailer.
Stores should automate the ordering process, which would make their omni-channel operations run much more smoothly. Automation could allow for more sophistication as the retail ERP system could place reservations on the items ordered for pickup at a particular store and proactively inform store employees as to what needs to be gathered for customer pickup. This helps ensure that the item doesn’t disappear from the shelf before the customer comes to the store to pick it up.
The bottom line is that brick-and-mortar retailers must seize the advantages they have over e-commerce retailers like Amazon.com. They key to that is having the proper technology tools to manage the process of providing an omni-channel strategy that offers shoppers convenience and flexibility.
Source: Retail Info Systems News, July 2013