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Benefits of Deploying an Endless Aisle Omnichannel Strategy For Your Stores

Posted by Marcus LaRobardiere on Jun 7, 2018

Last updated on April 29th, 2020 at 05:10 pm

The name of the game in retail today is omnichannel. Create an incredible and unified shopping experience for your customers regardless of whether they’re online or offline. Every retail brand on the planet is either trying to optimize their current systems, or they’re actively taking strides toward purchasing / rolling out a complete – and associate friendly – omnichannel offering.

A key piece to any omnichannel offering is endless aisle — retailers can increase sales and customer satisfaction by enabling store associates to purchase of out-of-stock or unavailable items from anywhere within the organization – other store locations or distribution centers.

Given the convenience and business benefits, you’d think that this would be more prevalent amongst retail brands. However, in NewStore’s annual research report we found that only 19% of retail brands were able to offer endless aisle by purchasing inventory from a distribution center / warehouse, and only 13% could purchase inventory from another store. Let’s take a deeper dive into why it’s important that omnichannel-aspiring retail brands look to rollout endless aisle capabilities.

Save the Sale & Maximize Margins

With endless aisle, you never have to worry about a customer leaving your store empty handed and disappointed – every product, color, and size is accessible and ready for purchase. Saving the sale helps retail brands deliver a better shopping experience for their customers, one that, according to Forrester, can help elevate in-store sales by 10% or more. Further, brands can leverage endless aisle to increase their profit margins by maintaining the markup for products by selling the available inventory, regardless of location.

Increased Inventory Visibility for Both Your Staff and Customers

Endless aisle ensures that store associates can acquire any out-of-stock items, regardless of location. How? Real-time inventory visibility into the organization’s entire product catalogue. One beneficial side effect of endless aisle is that store associates must have access to accurate – and real-time – inventory visibility to coordinate convenient and speedy delivery for purchases made on the store floor. While inventory lookup can happen at a traditional POS or digital kiosk, store associates armed with mobile devices are able to see inventory levels instantly without leaving the customer’s side, which provides for a more personalized shopping experience.

Omnichannel Shopping Cart

One of the biggest advantages retail brands have when they’re a fully functioning omnichannel retail business is the elimination of technological and informational silos. An omnichannel shopping cart eliminates the barriers between in-store and online transactions and provides a single view of the customer, order, and product. It also provides customers with the ability to begin their shopping journey from anywhere, online or in-store. Operationally, this is a massive advantage because it doesn’t matter if it’s the customer or store associate who adds products to the shopping cart, the transaction will include additional products purchased in-store as well as from other fulfillment locations in the event of an endless aisle transaction.

Increased Sales 

The quality of the shopping experience (read: multichannel) today is the ultimate measuring stick for consumer dictating where and, more importantly, how often they spend their money; retailers must find ways to win customers and keep them coming back to stay profitable. Endless aisle helps associates prevent lost sales and, coupled with the ability to access a customer’s profile / omnichannel shopping cart, opens the door for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. With the ability to combine in-store and endless aisle purchases into a single transaction, store associates are able to increase sales totals instantly.

Data Doesn’t Lie 

Some numbers surrounding endless aisles focus on increased sales and revenue; others point toward a reduction in lost sales and better customer service. In either case, the stats consistently say endless aisles are a growing necessity for retailers. Forrester Research, Inc. put out a report indicating that for retailers who have put endless aisle strategies to work, the endless aisle accounts for up to 10% of retailer revenue. This is a mix of increased sales along with customers who continue shopping with the company due to their integrated online presence. Additionally, 17% of customers say they will immediately purchase an item from an online competitor if they find the local store is out of stock. ‘Immediately’, in this case, is quite literal—those customers are placing the order while still inside the store. 37% will place the order with an online retailer once they get home, while 35% will visit a competing store. That’s for all customers, and younger ones are even more likely to order online (30% while still in the store, 47% when they get home). In short, your store is out of stock, the customer must know immediately that they can still acquire it through your company, or that sale is almost always lost.

Despite online retailers being so troublesome for brick-and-mortar chains, there will always be a desire for physical locations where customers can make immediate purchases. The difference is that those in-person sales are no longer enough for anyone. Streamlining your customer service strategy with an endless aisle offers your company the best chance to maintain its customer base and thrive in the decades to come.


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