Many retail brands are highly focused on their eCommerce experiences right now as part of their broader omnichannel retail strategies, and for good reason. Studies show that 80% of consumers now shop online, at least for some products or at some point in their buying journey. However, in focusing so heavily on the online experience, many retailers are completely disregarding or de-emphasizing the importance of their brick-and-mortar store locations. And, unfortunately, omnichannel retail strategies are doomed to failure without buy-in from store associates.
With all the focus on eCommerce, it’s easy to forget that the customer experience for initiatives like Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) extends beyond the website experience and includes the customer journey at the brick-and-mortar location. In this blog, I dive into the key ingredients that contribute to a seamless customer experience at store locations and how retail stores can best serve as a bridge between eCommerce and customers.
Reshaping Store KPIs
As the clear line between online and in-store retail teams disappears, so do the key performance indicators (KPIs) we use to measure the respective performance of these business units. Today, omnichannel merchants must transform their store KPIs and look at new metrics to effectively quantify the success of their store staff and locations.
Aligning store KPIs with broader omnichannel strategies ensures that in-store and online teams are not competing with one another, but rather working together to help the brand deliver on its promises to customers.
Some of the important KPIs for omnichannel retailers to measure at their stores:
Cancellation Rates: Cancellations can happen from orders both online and in the store, making them a central KPI across your omnichannel retail strategy. While cancellations can happen for many reasons, they ultimately indicate that a customer was disappointed!
Delivery Time: Delivery time may seem like an obvious KPI to retailers, but it’s important to remember to measure your delivery time for Ship From Store orders as well as those fulfilled directly from the warehouse. For Ship From Store orders, unique challenges can arise in the store that slow down delivery times.
- Refund Return Time: It’s important to track the turnaround time for customers returning their items for a refund, to understand how smooth the customer journey is for shoppers that were initially unsatisfied with their item.
Building an Omnichannel Compensation Model for Store Associates
Many retailers today struggle with developing a modern attribution model that incorporates both their in-store and eCommerce teams and incentivizes in-store associates to prioritize omnichannel success. Especially when stores are taking on the role of a fulfillment center, brands need to build out a compensation model for these items fulfilled or returned in-store. How can retailers best develop a strategy that delineates who put in the real effort in closing the sale, and attribute accordingly?
Many have seen success when endless aisle sales are attributed to the in-store retail associates, and Ship From Store sales are attributed to eCommerce. Endless aisle requires real effort from a sales point of view, while Ship From Store isn't a heavy lift.
Most importantly, retail brands must understand their unique business process and identify who is taking on the most responsibility for a given order category. When associates are spending considerable time and effort on omnichannel orders with no reward, this creates friction within your omnichannel retail strategy.
Achieving Unified Inventory Accuracy
In order to maximize the potential of your retail stores, accurate, real-time inventory data must be available to the entire company across online and in-store teams. How can omnichannel retailers achieve cross-location inventory accuracy within one unified system and avoid overpromising their customers?
The first step is to acquire the necessary technology to track your inventory across multiple locations, including store and warehouse locations. Retailers need an omnichannel order management system (OMS) that tracks inventory data across every store and warehouse location and makes it accessible in real-time to in-store associates.
Having adequate technology is one piece of the puzzle, but this also requires effective cross-department collaboration and communication. From the IT team to the associates working in the stores, everyone needs to be aligned in order to achieve true inventory accuracy and avoid unhappy customers.
Tips to Remove Silos and Maximize Retail Stores’ Potential
Achieving a seamless customer experience is a team effort! There are a couple of things that every retail brand can strive for and implement in order to promote greater collaboration across departments.
Prioritize regular cross-department communication. Each time you speak to someone in another department, you learn new things about the challenges they face in the day-to-day. Check in regularly across your eCommerce and brick-and-mortar teams.
Think like a customer at all stages of the buying journey. Take time to go to the store and understand the shoppers there. Experience the real life of the stores as well as the eCommerce journey from a customer perspective.
Take it one step at a time. Start small by piloting a new omnichannel initiative at one store. Once you’ve tested it out and addressed any problems, scale it out to the company at large little by little.
Have one single head managing both eCommerce and retail. Omnichannel is just an evolution of sales, and having a single executive in charge of both creates coherence and synergy among the departments.
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These key ingredients all help brands leverage retail stores as part of their larger omnichannel retail strategy. As you activate all retail channels, prioritize open communication between the eCommerce and in-store teams. At the end of the day, omnichannel is all about teamwork and synchronization across multiple units to deliver high-quality service to the customer.