There are several ways to think about omnichannel, but the first thing that needs to be addressed is defining precisely what omnichannel means. How a customer uses and receives a brand – whether it’s online, in-store, or through a catalog – is the basic understanding of omnichannel. To achieve an accurate 360-degree view of what your customer looks like and how they use your brand, you should have a better experience of what different channels are and be quite acquainted about how they interact.
But the ground-breaking fact is omnichannel strategies always come with different challenges. However, these challenges highlight the fact that there is surging potential – you cloud get additional revenue by integrating your other retail channels as you may reach those customers who are currently out of your radar.
Due to a lack of omnichannel readiness, retailers currently lose an estimated 6.5% of their revenue – customers are looking to use different channels to purchase. Maximum retailers are struggling to become an integrated omnichannel company. To take advantage of ever-evolving consumer preferences, all retailers must now have omnichannel strategies in place, or they risk being left behind.
There are numerous challenges you should be aware of, if you want to optimize your omnichannel operations. Consumers become frustrated with a disjointed shopping experience and take their business elsewhere if you develop a poorly executed omnichannel approach. So, let’s get down to know those nuts and bolts to attract consumers and increase sales across the board.
Being a current buzzword in eCommerce, there is still a lack of consistency in implementing Omnichannel strategies. Before we discuss the challenges and Solutions of different omnichannel modes, let us know key pitfalls along the way to omnichannel success irrespective of mode.
Challenge #1: Inventory Management
To make the most of inventory visibility across channels, retailers need to prioritize inventory management. As there is a chance to lose customers due to poor service so order handling should also be streamlined.
Challenge #2: Warehouse Locations
Store locations, distribution, warehouse location, and shipping channels should be optimal to maintain proper order handling and provide an optimized shopping experience.
Challenge #3: Overstocking/Duplication of stock
Overstocking and duplication of stock can both end up blocking your capital. You won’t have to worry about understocking or overstocking issues if you can use an inventory management system.
Challenge #4: In-store stock allocation
Proper allocation of in-stock items can avoid cannibalizing your online sales. Accomplishing pickups and delivery on time can help you to maintain a continuous moving inventory system.
Challenge #5: Uninformed employees
Uninformed store associates can turn down potential buyers due to a lack of info. Adequately train your staff to ensure that no one ever leaves without a product.
The essence of omni-channel is unifying all channels to provide a seamless customer experience, but there are challenges that retailer are facing. Let’s discuss what are solutions for those challenges.
1. Buy Online, Pick up in Store (BOPIS)
This particular way of commerce is the blend of the online and in-store experience. The demand for the practice of offering BOPIS has grown following Covid -19 as we are supposed to maintain social distancing. BOPIS offers more comfortable buying online. While providing a more convenient way to shop, BOPIS allows retailers to engage with customers.
How Does BOPIS Work?
BOPIS delivers convenience to the shoppers. They will enjoy the flexibility of how they want their orders fulfilled, and they want to be able to complete their purchases or make returns quickly and efficiently. Here are the steps
- Through the website or mobile app, customers buy online.
- The store fulfills the online order. There are two scenarios of ordering –
- First Scenario: The item chosen by the customer is available at the store – When ready, the associate can send a notification to the customer and letting them know that pickup is ready.
- Second Scenario: The chosen item is not available at the store – the associate will receive the item from the warehouse facility. Then notify the customer once it arrives.
The customer picks up the order.
Challenges faced by the retailers while implementing BOPIS
- Unable to keep track of inventory at the store level.
- Discrepancies of information about in-stock and out of stock items.
- Some e-commerce platforms don’t integrate with their point-of-sale (POS) systems.
Critical solutions that help retailers to make the best out of BOPIS
- Full access to in-store apps for Store associates.
- Run pilot program flagship centres in the initial stage before scaling up for all the branches.
- To provide real-time product inventory to online shoppers, establish a flawless connection between POS and warehouse management system.
2. Stores as Fulfillment Centers
Instant delivery or delivery within a day is what people desire. Customer behavior has led retailers to rethink their physical footprints, and retailers are willingly using their stores to serve as fulfillment centers to accelerate the delivery time. Survey shows that customers are ready to pay more or opting for membership for prioritized delivery. As the rise of e-commerce continues, Retailers are transforming under-performing retail properties into fulfilment centers to meet the demand for fast shipping.
Challenges faced by retailers
- Less motivated store associates if they are not compensated as in-store sales.
- Full access of inventory to the employees to avoid over-promising.
- Lack of modern technology to smartly enroute online orders with cost minimization.
- Maintaining a balance between the availability of products for in-person shopping and online shopping.
Key Solutions for implementing Stores as Fulfillment Centers successfully
- Maintaining a safety stock and ensure that you will stop fulfilling order until it is restocked
- Proper incentives to the store associates
- Training to store associates to deal with a mobile app to enhance the online shopping experience
- Route orders to the nearest store using any order-routing engine
3. In-Store Mobile Checkout & Endless Aisle
To offer a more streamlined shopping experience, Retailers are implementing a POS model. Here store associates collect information about visitors, provide support and help customers for a smooth check out using the mobile app. In this scenario, customers can virtually browse in-store items and order them regardless of whether the item is in-stock or sold out. And the associates can fulfill the demand by shipping the product from the nearby warehouse.
- The model is quite challenging for the fashion industry as retailers are unable to fulfill the demand easily
- More time is consumed during checkout as store associates don’t have access to previous shipping details.
- Lack of visibility of real-time inventory leads to the delayed shipping process.
- Regular access of store associates to product catalogs to provide genuine support to the customers
- Eliminate waiting time shipping by providing real-time inventory status of nearby stores to the customers
- Make customer profiles available to the associates, so customers don’t have to fill in details every time they buy something
4. Buy Online, Return in Store
This model offers the freedom to the customer – they can get an instant refund or exchange of the product if they are not satisfied with the delivered product. On the other hand, adopting this model retails can maintain both physical and online commerce.
- KPI’s of the store associate may get hurt with the continuous processing of returns
- Prolonged returned process due to restricted access of employees to order orders
- Lack of integration of e-commerce platform and a POS system, leading to frustrated shoppers as waiting time to get confirmed information surged
- Difficulty of reselling the returned products
- Make sure associates can find online orders and process returns efficiently, so integrate online and POS system
- The items which were returned to a store from an online order, prioritize those
- Restructure your KPIs to avoid hurting in-store metrics with returned items
5. Mobile Commerce
Mobile commerce enables you to buy and sell goods or services by simply using a mobile phone from almost anywhere. It an advancement of ecommerce. It offers the authentic omnichannel experience. Consumers are already spending their time listing your products, which makes the whole process of reaching the targeted audience relatively easy. Compare to another form of multi-channel marketing and selling, implementing mobile commerce is simpler.
Challenges faced while introducing Mobile commerce
- Higher loading time, use inappropriate mobile commerce tools
- Inexperienced sales associates
- Lack of demo videos on how to use your mobile devices to perform self-checkouts
- Smooth payment gateway
Essential Solutions to overcome Mobile commerce challenges:
- Use latest technologies like advanced web applications (PWAs) and API-first headless commerce platform.
- Train sales rep with your mobile app to help the customer and expedite the purchase process.
- Make sure to add a proper demo about your app and, more likely, develop a user-friendly app
- Integrate all your sites using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution
About ETG Digital
ETG is a Salesforce Strategic partner. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, ETG is ISO 9001:2015 certified company with a global delivery center in Hyderabad, India. We have a dedicated team serving the business worldwide from multiple locations in the US, Canada, UAE, UK, Australia, and India. Over the last two decades, we have been dedicated to customer success through leveraging emerging technologies. We provide customized and tailor-made solutions for retailers starting their eCommerce journey.
Drop us a note firstname.lastname@example.org to start your digital transformation journey.