If there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear in this decade it’s that both retail and technology are intertwined. Changes in our technology adoption and usage have, and will continue to, change the face of modern retail. ‘Omnichannel’ has become, an often overused, buzzword to describe consumer interaction between the two. Yet the truth is – omnichannel is the new retail.
While “Click & Collect” has long been the initial omnichannel launch for many multichannel retailers and brands, results across our clients shows the omnichannel tool “Ship from Store” actually drives the single biggest business benefit. How big? Our clients see on average a 20 percent increase in incremental eCommerce revenue and an increase on markdown items of over 30 percent.
So why haven’t businesses universally accepted omnichannel? Perhaps they feel they don’t understand the benefits. (To understand the business benefits in more detail, read the article here.)
Either that, or they believe the myths that still surround Ship from Store …and that’s all they are, myths. Below you’ll find seven of the most common omnichannel myths dispelled.
1) My store inventory is not accurate enough
The goal may be 100% real-time stock accuracy, but the reality for the majority of retailers is much less. Even with technologies such as RFID tags, few are able to know at any given time the exact stock holdings across warehouses, stores, and suppliers. Through a combination of nightly or intra-day stock snapshots, safety stock levels, morning picking routines before the majority of customers hit stores, and reallocation routing for out-of-stock situations, Ship from Store can help our customers fulfil an average of 30-40 percent of their online orders through their stores.
In addition, many omnichannel adopters find that by implementing Ship from Store fulfilment, they have improved store inventory accuracy to the point that they have been able to launch additional initiatives – such as reserve online and collect in-store – that rely on greater levels of stock accuracy.
2) I don’t want to strip my stores of stock
Opening up your stores as mini fulfilment centres immediately increases stock availability online, reduces out-of-stock situations, and allows retailers to sell more. Within the first 12 months of launch, video game retail giant GameStop increased its online in-stock catalogue from 6,800 to 18,000 items. This is great news; however, retailers need to ensure that Ship from Store does not strip their brick-and-mortar establishments of stock for high-street customers. This is relatively easy to combat by using a combination of safety stock levels and order brokering rules to optimise store availability across all product ranges.
3) We do not have the personnel or space available in-stores
While larger footprint stores often have the luxury of large stock rooms and back-office space to handle the pick, pack, and storage of parcels; the same cannot be said for small format stores. In these cases, retailers should limit daily manageable volumes for these locations compared to their big-box siblings. Picking orders during quiet periods – such as prior to store opening or quieter morning hours – allows these stores to pick orders successfully without dragging away sales staff from the shop floor.
View Ship from Store in action here:
Many retailers today still run highly complex and sometimes antiquated store technologies. Meanwhile, those that have invested in new POS or store systems are reluctant to modify such systems for fear of lengthy, costly IT projects. But this does not have to be the case. Fulfilment tools from some omnichannel solution providers, like Radial, can be implemented independent of existing store systems; the only requirements in stores are Wi-Fi connections and printers. Store personnel then use either an iOS or Android mobile app, or paper picking lists to prepare online orders.
5) Our store staff will not be receptive to losing stock to online sales
Feedback from our clients has shown that the increase in online stock availability driven through Ship from Store fulfilment actually drives additional footfall in stores. In my experience, if customers do not see the product they want available online, shoppers also assume the product is not available in stores.
We recommend that retailers compensate commission-earning store staff for the time it takes to pick and pack Ship from Store orders. By training store and regional managers, and incorporating performance-related incentives for top-performing stores, each store should clearly understand how Ship from Store fulfilment directly benefits them.
6) Our stores cannot provide the same experience as our DCs
The beauty of Ship from Store fulfilment is that it is invisible to customers. With simple training on packing parcels and a supply of branded packaging materials, customers will see no difference from a centrally shipped order. With both packaging and carrier labels built into the Ship from Store tool, it is easy for store staff to provide the same, consistent brand experience as is delivered from centrally shipped items.
7) Other investment priorities
Retailers cannot stand still, the market is evolving at an extraordinary rate, and those that stand still, die. Dramatic, yes, but true. This is why retailers are constantly balancing investments and improvements in new technologies across all areas of the business. But, which other investment opportunity available today results in a 20% increase in online revenue and a 30% increase in margins by selling merchandise prior to end-of-season discounts. With results like those– and a 90 day launch window – how can any retailer not implement a Ship from Store solution?
With 21,000 stores enabled, and more than $2 billion in store-fulfilled sales passing through our platform each year, we at Radial are well suited to help. Our experience working with leading retailers and brands – such as Toys”R”Us and Urban Outfitters – has given us detailed insights into overcoming the obstacles many fear will get in their way of success.