By Rohan Suri
If you needed a reminder as to why omnichannel is critical for retail – you only need to look at a couple of key data points from the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend. Online sales grew by a staggering 14.5 percent since last year, and the online shopper, on average, spent 43.7 percent of their weekend budget online, up from 40.7 percent last year. So it should come as no surprise that retailers are making significant investments in executing their omnichannel strategy. In fact, a recent retail M&A report by PWC stated that deal activity in Q3 of this year was driven by the need to build omnichannel capabilities.
But just having an online presence or creating an e-commerce site is not enough to attract shoppers. Shoppers want to be serviced by a true omnichannel retailer that understands that a shopping trip can start in one channel and finish in another. For example, shoppers want the convenience of shopping on the retailer’s e-commerce site to be combined with the speed of getting a refund or an exchange by returning the item at the nearest store. Refer to Figure 1 to understand the main factors related to omnichannel that drive a shopper’s likelihood to shop with a retailer.
Figure 1: Factors Driving Likelihood to Shop with a Retailer (Courtesy of ComScore)
Given the cross-channel use cases, what are some of the mobility solutions retailers can deploy to maximize returns on their omnichannel investments?
- Clienteling Solution: Let’s take the example of the cross-channel use case called “Click & Collect” or “Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS)”. Here, you have a shopper who makes a purchase online and selects a store where they will pick up the order based on stock availability and proximity to shopper’s location. Is there an opportunity to increase the basket size when the shopper visits the store? According to Francis Blake, CEO of Home Depot– there is.
“We also see that a significant percentage of BOPIS orders result in an additional purchase on the day of pickup.” Francis Blake, CEO, Home Depot
The beauty of the “Click and Collect” use case is that a retailer knows when the shopper will walk into the store. If the store associates can be armed with the right set of Clienteling tools on their mobile devices, they can deliver a superior customer experience. From greeting the shopper when the shopper walks into the store to providing a personalized set of up-sell, cross-sell recommendations, Clienteling can increase customer satisfaction. Inventory Checker, Price Checker, Shopper Profile and Personalized Recommendations are examples of mobile apps that can be integrated together to create this Clienteling solution. Use the Application Finder here to check into some relevant options.
- An Intelligent Mobile Task Management Solution: The general business case for a task management solution in retail is fairly well understood. It’s an important tool for headquarters to execute its strategy across all stores. Traditional task management solutions ensure compliance, reduce rework and free up resources from unproductive work to spend time on the shop floor. But there are two main challenges with these solutions. First, they are not designed with associate mobility in mind. Second, they integrate with few of the retailers systems. In most cases, a task management solution can only integrate with labor scheduling and/or time management solution of the same vendor.
Let’s consider the “Click & Collect” use case again. Once the order is placed online, an automated notification can be sent to a task management solution that has the flexibility to integrate with other systems. Separate tasks can be created for the associate responsible for packaging and the associate who will engage with the customers. In case a product is out of stock, a task can be assigned to the associate working in the distribution center to ship the product to the store.
This entire process is automated and does not require an administrator to sit at a desktop to manage task assignments. For this to work, however, the task management solution should be able to take inputs from different systems like eCommerce, inventory management, order management, labor scheduling, etc., and then create and assign tasks to the right associate instantly.
Executing on an omnichannel strategy requires a significant investment in time and money. And both these mobility use cases can increase the ROI from this investment.
Rohan Suri leads the next generation retail solution practice in the Asia Pacific region for Motorola Solutions and has more than 10 years of experience in product development and product management.
Read additional blogs by Rohan Suri here, and click here to learn more about how retailers are providing shoppers with the information they want, when and where they want it, to make shopping an engaging experience.
- Following is a matrix to lay out the different permutations/combinations that exist for the omnichannel retailer looking to execute cross-channel sales with all the possible outcomes. A couple of permutations are laid out below. The first path is the usual path followed for the ‘Click & Collect’ (or BOPIS) use case.
2. Confused by omnichannel, multichannel and cross-channel? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one. In fact, Gartner does not even recognize the term omnichannel, preferring the term multichannel. Personally, though, I do believe that there is a distinction to be made between a retailer having a multichannel, cross-channel or an omnichannel strategy. I will get into it further in another blog post, coming soon to Next Generation Enterprise Mobility.