NewStore is the only mobile POS with integrated cloud order management. Retailers like UNTUCKit and Decathlon use our platform and store associate apps to deliver end-to-end omnichannel capabilities with simplicity and ease.
Like a fish without water or a bird without feathers, it’s hard to imagine a retail brand succeeding today without an omnichannel fulfillment strategy.
Put simply, omnichannel fulfillment means facilitating orders according to the customer’s wishes. They can go to the store and shop. Buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). Have it shipped to their home or anywhere else they’d like. The supply chain becomes completely transparent. There are no business siloes, and data about customers, merchandise, and even issues are used to improve fulfillment practices.
Your customers want what they want, when they want it. In fact, 66% say multiple fulfillment options influence their decision to convert. As an example, Home Depot and Lowe’s have changed the fulfillment game in home improvement by unifying digital and physical. Customers have the ability to quickly find where a particular item is in a large store by checking the website, which also lets them know how many are in stock. They can pick up in-store as well as use pick-up lockers, curbside delivery, and home shipments — whichever is most convenient.
Thanks to advances in cloud technology, smaller retail brands have also been able to offer a range of fulfillment options. For instance in Q4 of 2020, NewStore customer and premium hat brand Goorin Brothers saw 60% of web orders shipped from stores. Due to the “Amazon Effect,” consumers have high fulfillment expectations and those brands that aren’t paying attention are likely losing out to the competition.
Order and Inventory Management Lead the Way
At the core of omnichannel fulfillment is an effective order management system (OMS). It orchestrates order routing, directing the fastest, most cost-efficient path to move merchandise from a store, factory, or distribution center to the customer’s fulfillment preference. Ideally, it also paints a picture of an order’s lifecycle with a real-time status update that is visible on any device.
An omnichannel OMS also makes it easier to manage inventory. Rather than a giant central distribution center transporting products to stores in a region, stock is held in smaller warehouses and stores and shipped to homes nearby or picked up. This approach also allows retail brands to nimbly adjust to sudden changes in demand, quickly shifting inventory between warehouses and stores to reduce out-of-stock problems and sell at full price.
Giving Consumers Choices
When a shopper is looking for something to buy, they often start the process on their computer or mobile device. Even in the discovery phase, they’re considering how to get the product in their hands. The fulfillment options besides the traditional “look through the aisles for it” include:
BOPIS (Click-and-Collect): In-store staff receive a notice that an order has been placed for a pickup. They retrieve it, set it aside in the pickup area, and notify the system it’s ready. On the customer’s end, once the order has been fulfilled they receive an email or text with pick-up details. This fulfilment method became popular a few holiday seasons ago but became more of a necessity during the pandemic. Its cousin BORIS (buy online return in-store) is also popular. Both help brick-and-mortar outlets benefit from extra foot traffic and reduced shipping costs.
Ship To Store: Similar to BOPIS, the merchandise is ordered online and shipped from a warehouse to the store. The OMS and/or inventory management system notifies the store that their next shipment will include products X and Y that need to be ready for pickup by the customer. The customer is then notified that the order is ready, at which point the order is treated like any other BOPIS transaction.
Curbside Pickup: Curbside took off in retail in 2020 and looks to be a fulfillment choice that will continue to be a favorite — 81% of consumers saying they’re interested in trying it. The customer buys online, receives a notification that the merchandise is ready, and shows up at the designated pick-up spot. They typically call or send a text when they’ve arrived so an associate can deliver the order right to them. Some retailers make a locker system part of their curbside service, where the customer scans a QR code and takes their purchase from an assigned locker. This allows for pickups after hours, which can add to customer convenience.
Ship-from-Store: Consumers don’t generally make the choice to ship-from-store, but it enables them to get their purchases faster. The customer buys a product online and wants it shipped to their home. The OMS sees the product is available at both a distribution center 50 miles away and a store 5 miles from the customer. Depending on inventory projections, it might direct the fulfillment order to the store. There, an employee picks and packs the order, readying it for delivery. This also opens up the possibility of same-day and 1-hour delivery options.
Customer Benefits of Omnichannel Fulfillment
For shoppers, omnichannel fulfillment gives them freedom of choice. They can go to the store and shop the aisle the “old school” way. Buy online and pick up in-store. Have it shipped to their home or business, or perhaps pay a premium and have it shipped same-day.
The heart of the omnichannel philosophy is the data it generates about the customer and the merchandise they’re buying. This is critical to the customer experience. Even more, it ensures the brand is aware of their preferences and presents them with products they’re likely to be interested in and that have fulfillment options that suit their needs.
Keys to Easy Omnichannel Fulfillment
A Powerful OMS: Omnichannel will only be as good as your OMS. Is it easy to use? Can it help you make strategic business decisions? A good system is collecting orders from various channels and determining item-level routing for each one based on location, inventory availability, fulfillment capacity, and more.
Efficient Pick, Pack & Ship: In-store employees in an omnichannel operation must know that they’re serving not only customers in-store but those online as well. Like warehouse staff, they need to know how to quickly fill a ship-from-store or BOPIS order. Making sure these tasks are prioritized as much as helping the in-store shopper will go a long way toward boosting customer satisfaction scores.
Making Pickup Easy: People like BOPIS but they don’t like to wait. Having trained staff with easy-to-use solutions for pickups, plus clear signage directing customers to the pickup location, is the ideal. If that’s not feasible, this is where the convenience of pickup lockers can help.
Challenges and Opportunities
Omnichannel fulfillment is both a challenge and an opportunity. Expanding your fulfillment channels requires your organization to stretch and go beyond its boundaries. You need to push the envelope to get products to consumers quickly and economically. The opportunities, however, are that doing so will increase customer loyalty and lifetime value. It’s worth the more dollars-per-sale and the healthier bottom line if you get it right.
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