The term “omnichannel” has undoubtedly reached buzzword status in the world of retail, with some experts even urging people to stop using the term altogether.
But regardless of how you feel about it, the concept sticks; and for many, the term omnichannel adequately describes a tightly integrated retail system that enables companies to be present on multiple channels (e.g., in-person, online, mobile, etc.) while letting customers move and transact seamlessly from one channel or platform to another.
Being omnichannel used to be a useful feature or best practice to have. Today, though, omnichannel capabilities are table stakes.
Industry data shows that 73% of consumers use multiple channels in their shopping journeys. This is even more pronounced among millennials (i.e., the largest consumer group today). Research shows that 60% of millennials “expect a consistent experience from brands whether they interact online, in-store or via phone.”
If you’re looking to beef up your omnichannel game, below are a handful of examples to inspire and inform your efforts.
Next up, we have Smack Bang, a New Zealand-based retailer that sells pet accessories and treats.
Like many retailers, Smack Bang has a multi-channel presence and sells both online and offline. What we love about this retailer though is its loyalty program which functions seamlessly across all channels.
This means that Smack Bang’s loyalty program members can earn and redeem rewards no matter where or how they’re shopping. Smack Bang has a beautiful loyalty widget that incorporates its store and website’s themes and colours, giving customers an amazing brand experience.
Grow your business with the complete retention marketing toolbox. Marsello combines data-driven automation, email, SMS, and loyalty programs to deliver smart, targeted marketing, designed to increase customer retention and sales. Marsello retailers see an average of 44X ROI.
Sephora has been an omnichannel retail for a while now, letting customers shop on physical and digital channels. One of the many impressive things that Sephora is doing is it gives customers more visibility on their purchase history.
Sephora has an extensive catalogue, so to make it easy for customers to reorder products, the retailer has a Purchase History page, which lists all the items that the shopper bought previously, along with the date of purchase, and where the transaction took place (i.e. online or in a specific store).
There’s even an “Add to Basket” beside each item, so customers can quickly add it to their shopping cart.
A tremendous omnichannel experience isn’t just about letting people buy across different channels. A big part of cultivating a great customer experience lies in how well you handle returns. Nothing disappoints customers more than letting jump through too many hoops to return an item.
While it’s essential to verify the purchase details before accepting a return, you should also find a way to make the experience more pleasant. And in the age of omnichannel retailing, one of the best ways to do this is letting them return their items through the platform or channel that is most convenient for them.
Nordstrom does this really well. The department store has a smooth process that lets customers return products in any store (in some cases, even curbside). And if shoppers prefer to mail the items back, they can do so as well, by merely starting a returns process online.
Consider implementing something similar in your business. Ensure that your online and offline platforms are connected and enable you to accept returns from any store — even if the purchase was made online or at a different shop.
Search by the customer name or the receipt number, find the associated sale and process the return on the spot. Rest assured that the stock will be reflected accurately in each outlet and will be shown correctly in your reporting too!
Grain & Vine, a New York-based wine and spirits shop, is doing an amazing job with omnichannel sales and fulfilment.
In addition to letting shoppers buy online and in-store, Grain & Vine, offers several fulfilment options, including in-store pickup and same-day delivery.
It’s a marvellous initiative particular at a time when consumers are mandated to stay home. Grain & Vine’s convenient fulfilment options certainly set it apart from other retailers.
Hopefully, these examples of omnichannel retailing have inspired you to uplevel your retail platforms and experiences. Remember going omnichannel isn’t optional these days — it’s a must.
So, get your retail ducks (channels) in a row, and start delighting your customers.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: One of the keys to achieving retail success is to be more data-centric.
Relying on retail analytics and hard data rather than guesswork enables you to make smarter decisions toward higher profits, better customer satisfaction, and having a more awesome store overall.
The good news is that it looks as though many players in the retail industry have already recognised the importance of data. A survey by Alteryx and RetailWire of nearly 350 retailers and brand manufacturers found that 81% of respondents say they gather shopper insights and 76% consider insights to be critical to their performance.The bad news is that while many merchants are collecting data, most aren’t using it effectively. According to the study, only 16% consider themselves experts regarding data harnessing, while 24% and 60%, respectively, describe themselves as “newbies” and “getting there.”
Of course, we know being data-centric is easier said than done. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help you collect and harness data in your retail business. Read about them below, then see if you can put them into action in your operation:
You might have difficulties with your data-centric efforts because you lack the right tools to collect and harness information. Or perhaps you have the tools, but you don’t know how to use them to their full potential.
Consider the following:
If your point of sale system is only being used to ring up sales, you’re definitely missing out. These days, most modern POS solutions come with reporting features that can shed light on essential metrics such as profit margins, basket sizes, customer counts, sales trends, and more.
For example, looking at your sales reports will tell you exactly which products or suppliers are driving revenue so you can plan your stock orders accordingly.
Your POS records can help you streamline your staffing and operations.
Retailers can learn a lot about their business and customers by merely looking at their POS data. So if you haven’t done so yet, explore your POS system’s reporting features and learn about the metrics you can track (and how to track them).
If you’re keeping in touch with customers via email, be sure to track open rates, clicks, and engagement times. Your email marketing software should provide this information, so always dig into that data whenever you send out messages to your list.
Open rate data can give you a better idea of which subject lines are working well, allowing you to optimise them going forward. Meanwhile, paying attention to when people are reading your messages could help you time your campaigns more effectively.
If you haven’t done so yet, consider implementing foot traffic analytics solutions in your store. Tools like people counters and beacons can provide data such as customer counts and dwell times.
With that data, you can glean more information on how much traffic you’re getting, the parts of your store getting the most and least visitors, and more.
There are many life adages and quotes about learning from your past, and the same thing can be said about retail. Looking at your previous sales and inventory data can surface valuable insights and action steps that you can implement today and in the future.
What were your bestsellers last season? Who are the customers that spent the most? Which suppliers or designers were popular with your shoppers? The answers to these questions will help you develop ordering decisions and promotions to run in your store.
Analysing just one metric is like focusing on only one corner or aspect of a painting — you don’t see the big picture, and you can’t fully appreciate the value of what you’re looking at.
To get the most out of the data you’re collecting, you need to look at how different metrics relate to each other. Rather than looking at each report on its own, see if you can mix and match different ones for deeper insights.
For instance, while your transaction counts and foot traffic data are useful on their own, looking at both metrics together (i.e. transaction count ÷ gross traffic) will give you your conversion rate. This is a powerful metric that tells you the ratio of store visits to the number of people who actually bought something.
And suppose you analyse your transaction count and revenue together (total revenue ÷ transaction count). In that case, you’ll get your average order value, which can give you a macro view of how much customers are spending in your store.
These are just a few examples of how you can mix and match different metrics to develop more powerful findings. Dig into your own data and look for other reports or data points you can combine.
Timing is…well, not necessarily “everything,” as the cliché goes, but it does matter a lot when you’re analysing data.
The question of when a customer looked at a product or bought something can provide insights into what they might buy next and when.
Let’s say you sell baby clothing and merchandise, and a customer just bought some clothes for her three-month-old son. Using that data, you might be able to predict what she’ll need in six months or a year, and you can make relevant product recommendations.
One company that does this well is Enfagrow. When moms and moms-to-be sign up for the brand’s mailing list, Enfagrow collects information about their due date or their baby’s age. The company then uses that information to send highly relevant emails depending on how old the child is.
Gathering data on sales and shopper behaviour is essential, but you don’t want to be the retailer who only collects information in the background. (That’s a great way to gain a reputation for being creepy.)
To get the most out of your data collection efforts, make your customers part of the process. Encourage them to share their data with you through conversations, surveys, and other research methods. Doing so not only help you get to know them better, but it also builds trust.
They are actively collecting data with your customers (rather than just silently doing it behind the scenes) shows shoppers that you value their input. And when they see that you’re putting their information to good use, they’ll be more inclined to share!
What’s the best way to collect shopper data? That all depends on your store and customers. In some cases, merely chatting with shoppers and recording their preferences in your CRM will do the trick.
Other retailers are using a more high-tech and interactive approach to learn more about their shoppers. Check out this example from Sephora’s branch at the South Coast Plaza Mall. In this instance, Sephora uses in-store tablets to deliver quizzes that shoppers can take to find the best product.
Analysing online and offline data together will give you a complete picture of your customers’ shopping journeys. Remember, modern consumers go through multiple channels on their path to purchase, so if you’re storing and analysing their information in silos, you’re going to get fragmented profiles of your shoppers, and you could miss out on key insights and opportunities.
Barneys is a great example of a retailer that understands the power of unified data. Matthew Woolsey, Barneys’ executive vice president for digital, told the Washington Post that looking at both online and offline customer behaviours told them that many women who purchase fine jewellery in their brick-and-mortar locations have previously browsed for it online.
You can see that if Barneys had looked just at their shoppers’ online data, they wouldn’t have figured out that their web-browsing customers eventually purchased offline, and they wouldn’t have gotten a full understanding of their customers’ path to purchase.
While computers and algorithms are certainly powerful enough to give you a solid understanding of your business, it’s still important to recognise human insights’ value.
Let your retail analytics and reporting programs give you the numbers, but be sure to factor in your team’s feedback and experience.
Check out what Stitch Fix is doing. The online personal styling service makes use of both algorithms and human stylists to determine a person’s style and make recommendations.
Stitch Fix members to fill out a survey when they join the service, and their answers are fed into a data system that delivers recommendations. However, it’s Stitch Fix’s human stylists who make the final clothing decisions.
Marrying data with human insights could also be helpful when you’re making staffing or operational decisions.
Say your foot traffic tools indicate people are spending more time at the front of the store than at the back. Why not drill down on this insight by talking to the people on the sales floor to figure out the reason behind this behaviour?
Perhaps you need to freshen up your product assortments or your associates need to do a better job of enticing people to check out the entire store. Whatever the case, you may want to talk it over with your staff and consult them when making changes.
Retailers who want to thrive in the coming months and years can’t afford not to incorporate data into their decisions. Yes, setting up the right systems and learning how to gather intel could take some work; but when you’ve mastered it, the knowledge and insights you gain will make it all worthwhile.
How are you using retail analytics in your business? Let us know in the comments.
Automation is widely touted for how much it saves time. But automation does so much more than help you accomplish tasks more quickly. In fact, its benefits go so deep that it touches virtually every part of your retail business.
And retail automation is growing. In fact, the global retail automation market is expected to be worth more than $19.5 billion by 2024.
Make no mistake: retail automation is the future of commerce.
Below, let’s take a look at what retail automation is and tactics you can consider now and in the future for your own retail business.
Automation is the concept and practice of using computers and technology to set up systems, processes, and workflows to work independently and without or with minimal human involvement. Automation uses technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to execute tasks and predict future scenarios. Retail automation can mean a number of things, depending on who you ask. It could pertain to:
Though retail automation requires time and budget, especially upfront, it pays off like an investment. After you’ve invested in your retail automation, your business and employees will reap the benefits — much like your bottom line.
According to one survey, more than half of manufacturers still rely on pen and paper to track processes and workflows. This makes businesses vulnerable to unintended human error, leading to costly business decisions made based on bad data. In fact, one test found that computers could read lips 95% accurately compared to humans’ 52% accuracy.
When you automate specific retail tasks, computers bring an extra layer of accuracy that humans simply can’t match. These benefits significantly impact inventory management, analytics reporting, accounting and bookkeeping, and payroll
Labor productivity in retail is on a gradual rise, and many retailers have automation and technology to thank. As time-consuming tasks are reallocated to computers, this means you need fewer staff hours to accomplish the same results. Symbolic is one example of a company that develops retail robots, effectively lowering labor costs by 80%.
It’s important to note, though, that automation isn’t the decline of jobs. Per Fair Workweek, 62% of workers think IoT and retail automation will actually create new job opportunities.
While you lower labour costs, you’re also freeing up time. Per McKinsey & Company, about half of current tasks could be automated. Another assessment determined that if a typical grocery store leveraged all the automation options available, they could operate with up to 55%–65% fewer hours.
In 2017, Target made a $7 billion investment dedicated to renovating and levelling up its retail stores. Part of that investment went into automating monotonous tasks.
Automated cash counters allowed associates to spend more time on the floor, assisting customers and building relationships. And in cases where automation isn’t necessarily replacing human intervention, it helps accomplish those manual tasks with more efficiency.
Greater efficiency creates a more seamless backend experience, which translates into the customer experience as well. There are a number of ways where this comes into play, including:
Fraud is a real threat for every retailer. In fact, it’s the top concern for most retailers. To protect your business, you can use technology and automation as an extra layer of security. You’d be joining the 70% of merchants who have machine-learning analytics high on their priorities for fraud mitigation.
Computers can flag what appears to be risky or fraudulent activity. This might happen in a credit card transaction, for example.
Businesses are expected to increase technology spend by more than 50% between 2015 and 2030, and automation is undoubtedly a large part of that.
Retail automation has been around for a little while now, so that means there are much pretty much infinite options to consider for your business. It all comes down to determining your unique goals and mapping your needs back to those goals.
Self-checkout is one of the most straightforward and expected uses of retail automation. And consumers love it. According to one survey, two-thirds of shoppers want self-serve options, with most believing it will improve the customer experience.
Amazon Go is a commonly cited example, one of the first retail stores that went “cashierless.” Shoppers can essentially walk in and out, while retail automation handles scanning, pricing, and payment processing. They’ve also placed self-serve Amazon Hub Lockers in more than 900 cities worldwide.
Even the car-buying experience has gone self-serve, with Carvana’s vending machines. And self-checkout kiosks are finding their way to stores that aren’t necessarily grocers as fashion apparel brands like Zara and Rebecca Minkoff test out the technology.
Robots are also finding a place in stores, stocking shelves, assisting customers, and monitoring theft. One analysis anticipates more than 150,000 in-store robots by 2025.
Walmart has as many as 1,000 stores using robots to scan shelves and alert staff of low stock, as well as packing orders to speed up the fulfillment process for online orders.
Especially important in a COVID-19 economy, automated robots are also handling cleaning and sanitisation as well as curbside pickup. Broad Branch Market in Washington D.C. has employed robots as delivery “drivers,” getting purchases to local customers during social distancing and lockdowns. Save Mart has done the same for curbside pickups at its flagship store in Modesto, CA.
Automated inventory management is another important umbrella term, as it can mean a number of things:
According to one analysis, 61% of warehouses are expected to combine manual labour and automation in warehousing by 2024. And more than a quarter are expected to go fully automated. Many believe an appropriate balance between manual and automated retail systems results in an equally balanced team and workload.
And while you can use robots a la Walmart to help fulfil orders, you can automate many other areas. Some robots can help you optimise warehouse space and ensure no inch is wasted, freeing up space for new inventory or reducing holding costs along the way.
You don’t need robots, either. Automated Put Walls, for example, makes it easier to pick, pack, and sort. Two to three workers can fulfil 2,400 items per hour when using the technology, while traditional put walls might need ten times the amount of labour—and space.
You can also automate backroom unloading, barcode scanning and data collection, equipment maintenance and upkeep, and employee management, among others.
Retail marketing and automation come together in many ways, but it all boils down to saving time and improving your campaigns’ effectiveness. You can automate a number of things in marketing:
Many marketing automation platforms like Marsello make it easy to tailor and automate communications based on customer behaviour and preferences. It’ll ping customers after they haven’t purchased so long to keep you top of mind, as well as offer personalised promotions and perks for regular shoppers.
Fashion retailer OnceWas automates email sequences to engage different customer segments. Marsello automatically groups customers and sends communications and promotions based on their behaviours.
Hiring and recruiting in retail are equally important and challenging. It’s important to find top talent, but retailers face many challenges — time being a big one. It takes a lot of time to find the perfect candidate, and busy professionals don’t always have that time.
Here’s a mini case study about retail automation in hiring and recruiting:
“One retailer we know, for example, designed an app-based hiring tool to streamline the recruitment of store associates. At the start of the project, the recruiting process was difficult. Each candidate would provide almost 50 documents and visit the company’s offices up to five times; end-to-end, the whole thing took an average of 45 days. To make matters worse, about 40% of the associates hired left within six months. To solve these problems, the company established an agile, cross-functional working team, which created minimum viable products in just ten weeks: for candidates, a mobile-app tool to help browse jobs and apply for them; for HR managers, a web-based tool to screen and identify potential hires. Now implemented in more than 1,000 stores, the solution has not only reduced hiring time by more than 80% and store administrative hours by 20% but also improved the quality of new hires through the application of advanced analytics to applications.”
These perks come in especially handy during a busy period like the holidays when you need to hire seasonal staff who can help you weather the spike in demand.
While you might not be ready to invest in a fleet of robots, there are accessible ways to leverage retail automation now — as well as set yourself up for more significant and more advanced opportunities in the future. In every business decision, it’s essential to consider not only what’s happening and what you need right now, but also to lay the groundwork for where you want to be in the future.
There are lots of retail automation products available to retailers, and it can feel overwhelming to narrow down your choices. When it comes to choosing the best tools for your business, look for options that can grow with you. Advanced features and third-party integrations, even if not on your radar now, should be essential considerations in your search.
Retail automation is here now, and it’s shaping the future of commerce. It’s empowering small businesses with the technology they need to build amazing customer experiences and compete on a larger scale. Set yourself up with the right tools and strategies now to help you take advantage of business growth and technology advancements in the future.
Forecasting retail technology trends is a difficult task. There’s no shortage of buzzwords in the industry, plus there are numerous tech providers out there claiming that their solution is the next big thing in retail.
So, which technology trends in retail are worth the hype? And how can you determine the right things to pursue in your business?
Answer: rely on data. Pay close attention to your market changes, particularly when it comes to buying behaviour and preferences. Every market is different, and the technologies to adopt will vary depending on your business and your customers.
We took a look at some of the retail technology trends that have been making waves as of late, and put together a list of the top tech trends to keep an eye on — and how to make them work in your business.
Move over FOMO (fear of missing out). Thanks to COVID-19, consumers are now experiencing FOGO (fear of going out).
People are becoming more cautious, especially when it comes to offline shopping, and many are shifting their purchasing habits to limit their shopping trips. Consumers are increasingly doing “pre-store research” where they look up store and product info online before heading to the shop.
Pre-pandemic, 90% of shoppers said they do a web search for a product before heading in-store. That number has almost certainly gone up in recent months.
What does this mean for you?
For starters, if your store or products aren’t visible on online platforms like Google, you’re missing out foot traffic and sales opportunities. It’s critical that you adopt solutions that put your business in front of shoppers during their “pre-store” research stage.
This means when they’re looking up your products online, you want your store to show up in their radar.
You can do this by integrating your POS or inventory management system with Google Search and Maps.
Solutions like Pointy (acquired by Google in 2020) make this simple. Simply connect Pointy to your point of sale solution, and it will automatically display your real-time inventory online, so your customers can easily see what’s in-store.
We can see this trend in action in the pet store Dingo’s. Their Business Profile on Google lists the products they have in-store, so shoppers can verify their availability before heading out.
Running a retail business requires several tools. You have your POS system, eCommerce shopping cart, payment processor, accounting software, ERP, CRM… the list goes on.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single solution that does all of the above really well, which is why retail ecosystems are so important. By seamlessly connecting your apps, you can keep your retail business running like a well-oiled machine.
The last thing you want is to cobble up different solutions together or do manual entry — such methods lead to inefficient operations and a poor customer experience.
So, do your business a favour and implement retail integrations that keeps data flowing smoothly across your systems.
Make no mistake: as shoppers’ expectations increase and retail journeys become more complex, the need for an open ecosystem will continue to grow. See to it that your retail business is prepared by adopting technologies that are easily integrate-able.
Automated commerce (aka “a-commerce”) is essentially the process of automating the purchasing journey. A-commerce can come in many forms, including:
For some retailers, it makes sense to automate the buying decisions of shoppers. Merchants that adopt subscription-based business models are a good example. By automating things like buying consumable goods (razors, toilet paper, etc.) retailers can reduce friction and make their customers’ lives easier.
The most advanced companies are devising ways to use technologies like connected devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) to power automated commerce.
As the Retail Council of Canada points out:
In the future, these innovations may also be common in our homes. The smart appliance market—worth an estimated $20 billion—is developing thermostats and appliances capable of learning consumer habits and tailoring their usage accordingly. Smart fridges will be able to detect when food has gone bad and place online orders for delivery.
A-commerce can also come in the form of marketing automation. Retailers are becoming smarter with how they collect and use customer information to encourage increased purchases. Best of all? Collecting that information and executing data-backed campaigns can be done automatically.
Customer communications and marketing automation platforms such as Marsello enable merchants to come up with tailored offers and communications based on their customers specific behaviours.
If a customer hasn’t purchased anything in 6 months, for example, the platform will automatically send them an offer to encourage them to check out the store’s new arrivals. Meanwhile, a loyal customer who frequents the retail store will get a different message — perhaps a surprise perk for their loyalty.
Consider the case of OnceWas, a fashion retailer that uses automated email sequences to engage different customer segments, including first-time customers, window shoppers, and inactive customers.
Marsello automatically segments OnceWas’ customer base and engages each customer group with a campaign designed around their shopping behaviours. This ensures that customers receive messages that are relevant to their needs, which ultimately increases the likelihood of conversion.
A-commerce can also apply to backend processes in your business. Consider the following retail automations:
Implementing a-commerce to your processes and operations starts with adopting a retail platform that supports automation. Once again, using a solution that easily integrates with other apps is key. Much of a-commerce hinges on different apps “talking” to each other, so make sure your system allows this.
When the pandemic hit, Microsoft Teams experienced a 500+% growth in calls and conference in China between January and March 2020.
That tells us as while people are going out less, their need for human interaction is stronger than ever. This behaviour has tremendous implications on how businesses should facilitate customer interactions and communications.
Retailers can stay competitive by finding ways to connect with customers virtually. Doing that can mean different things, depending on your brand. For some retailers, one-on-one consultations work best. Others thrive on community events like classes or workshops.
Turn to your customer base to figure out the right approach. From there, it’s a matter of sorting out the tech side of things. You’ll need to adopt a reliable communication platform that allows you to hold events or sessions remotely.
Sometimes, that can be as simple as hopping on Instagram live. But if you want more interaction or if your needs are complex (i.e., guest registration, ticket sales, webinar moderation, etc.) then adopting a ticketing system like Eventbrite and webinar platform like Zoom would be good to go.
Contactless payments aren’t new; technologies like mobile payments (Apple Pay, Samsung Pay) or tap and go have been around for years. However, the pandemic has rapidly accelerated this trend.
A poll by Mastercard found that nearly half of consumers globally (46%) “have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless – this proportion climbs to 52 percent among those under 35 years old.” What’s more, 82% of respondents believed that contactless payments are a much cleaner way to pay.
Supporting contactless payments like Apple Pay used to be nice to have. But in 2020 and beyond, they’re practically table stakes.
And be sure to spread the word. Utilise all your communication channels (i.e., email, social, in-person, etc.) to let customers know about your contactless initiatives. Encourage your customers to use these solutions; they offer an effective way to limit contact, thus keeping your customers and employees safe.
Speed and flexibility are critical, particularly when it comes to ordering fulfilment. The retailers that will succeed are the ones who can get products onto shoppers’ hands in the most convenient way possible. This means offering services like same/next day delivery as well as in-store/curbside pickup.
Your stock control and fulfilment system will look different, based on your current tech stack and processes. Generally speaking, though, it helps to have one tightly-integrated platform for managing your sales, products, and orders across all your sales channels. When you’re
There’s no shortage of retail technology trends claiming to be THE one to transform your business. To effectively figure out what to focus on, take an honest look at your operations and initiatives. Get to know your customers and their needs. Think about what’s slowing down your business or what your shortcomings are. Evaluating these things will offer insights into what steps to take going forward.
Also, consider speaking with retail specialists who can advise you on the ways in which you can improve your business.
Guest post by : team Form -
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