Beyond Brick-and-Mortar: Why You Should Embrace Omnichannel Retail
Jun 24, 2022
8 mins read
In the retail industry, having a presence across multiple channels is no longer optional. Customers expect to shop, browse, compare, and engage with brands seamlessly across any device or location. This is where omnichannel retailing comes in. This guide aims to explain what omnichannel retailing is, its importance, challenges and ways to implement and why technology is crucial for this strategy to work.
What is Omnichannel Retailing?
Omnichannel retailing is a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether the customer is shopping online or in a brick and mortar store. It merges all the channels a business can use to reach its customers into a cohesive, unified experience.
Why is Omnichannel Retailing Important?
According to studies, 73% of shoppers said they use multiple channels during their buying journey. This means, Omnichannel should be a top priority for retailers when gauging success and more here’s more reason why:
- Customer Expectation: Modern customers expect to engage with brands across many touchpoints and receive a consistent, high-quality experience every time.
- Increased Sales: Customers using multiple channels typically spend more than those using a single one.
- Brand Loyalty: Offering a seamless omnichannel experience increases customer experience, leading to higher customer loyalty.
Challenges in Omnichannel Retailing
Planning to adopt omnichannel is great. But any strategy comes with its own set of challenges and below are for Omnichannel:
- Increasing operational costs: The last mile of delivery often involves numerous costs such as labor, fuel, maintenance of delivery vehicles, technology for tracking and communication, and in some cases, costs associated with delivery failures or re-attempts. These costs can add up quickly, making the last mile of delivery one of the most expensive parts of the supply chain.
- Lack of transparency, traceability, and visibility: Customers today expect retailers to provide them with real-time visibility over the status of their delivery. However, providing this level of visibility can be challenging for retailers, particularly when multiple carriers or delivery methods are involved. This can also complicate internal operations, making it harder for retailers to monitor performance, predict issues, and manage customer expectations.
- Unpredictability due to last-minute delivery requests: Customers often have last-minute changes or requests, such as changing the delivery address or timing. These unpredictable changes can create a lot of logistical difficulties, requiring retailers to be very flexible and agile in their last-mile delivery operations.
- Difficulty in handling reattempted and standard delivery tasks: When a delivery fails on the first attempt, because the customer isn’t home or for another reason, it must be reattempted. These reattempts add to the cost and complexity of last-mile delivery. They also create a negative experience for customers, which can harm the retailer’s reputation.
- Rising fuel consumption for the fleet: Fuel costs are a significant component of last-mile delivery costs. As fuel prices rise, so do the costs of last-mile delivery. In addition, concerns about environmental sustainability are leading many retailers to seek ways to reduce their carbon footprint, which can involve further investments in greener delivery methods.
- Ineffective last-mile route plans: Planning efficient routes for last-mile delivery is a complex task that involves many variables, such as traffic conditions, delivery windows, and the specific locations of customers. Inefficient routes can lead to increased costs, delayed deliveries, and increased fuel consumption.
- Delayed, failed, and missed deliveries: These are some of the most serious issues in last-mile delivery. They lead to customer dissatisfaction, increased costs for reattempted deliveries, and potentially lost sales. A retailer’s ability to accurately predict and ensure delivery times can be a key factor in their success in omnichannel retail
Now that we have covered the challenges in Omnichannel retailing, let’s look at how technology paves the way to success in Omnichannel
How can last mile technology solve this?
Retailers have been managing supply chain and logistics through manual legacy methods for quite some time now and the challenges that come with manual supply chain management are just mounting. As we progress through time, the era of digitalization has made supply chain management technologies cutting edge, leading to optimized operations. Locus’ state of the art customer services and dispatch management system has helped many retailers optimize their logistics process. Here’s what it can do for you:
- Enhanced Fleet Utilization: Locus offers a unique fleet management solution that maximizes the utilization of your fleet, driving down costs and increasing efficiency. Through intelligent grouping of deliveries, pickups, and restocks, this solution brings a whole new level of dynamic routing to your supply chain.
- Maximized Capacity Utilization: Our Delivery Linked Checkout (DLC) feature ensures optimal capacity management, enabling you to maintain service quality even during peak seasons without any additional resource allocation. More impressively, this solution seamlessly handles reverse logistics, significantly reducing both costs and emissions.
- Efficient Carrier Management: With Locus’ Smart Carrier Management tool, ShipFlex, third-party carrier selection and management becomes a breeze. This tool automates carrier selection using rule-based automation based on factors such as weight, cost, distance, and more, thereby reducing manual intervention and enhancing operational efficiency.
- Optimized Routing Strategies: To address the inherent complexities of last-mile logistics, Locus offers a dynamic route optimization tool. This advanced solution considers over 180 real-world constraints, ensuring the most efficient and cost-effective route for deliveries, thereby reducing not just costs but also carbon emissions.
- Customer-Centric Order Tracking: Locus’ tracking solution enhances customer experience by offering real-time, turn-by-turn navigation of their orders. Additionally, it can automate notifications, keeping customers updated about potential delays and order progression.
- Intelligent Analytics: Our analytics solution offers deep, actionable insights into every aspect of your operations, from delivery metrics like cost, time, CO2 emissions, to driver performance. These insights, available on a comprehensive dashboard, will empower your decision-making process, drive efficiency, and enhance profitability.
We know technology can solve the above challenges, however, it is best to create a list of technical and non-technical factors that is a must before you
Checklist to before implementing an Omnichannel strategy
- Understand Your Customers
Start with understanding who your customers are, their shopping behaviors, preferences, and what they value most in a shopping experience. Tools such as customer surveys and customer data analysis can provide valuable insights.
- Create a Consistent Brand Experience
Ensuring your brand is consistently represented across multiple channels. This includes your brand’s messaging, design aesthetics, and overall shopping experience. If a customer walks into your store or visits your online shop, they should feel it’s all part of the same brand.
- Implement an Integrated Technology Stack
To effectively manage and leverage all your retail channels, invest in integrated technology. This can include a unified commerce platform, CRM software, inventory management systems, and customer data platforms. The aim is to have all systems talk to each other to share data and offer a seamless customer experience.
- Focus on Mobile
In the era of smartphones, mobile commerce is a critical part of omnichannel retailing. Your website should be mobile-optimized, and consider developing an app if it makes sense for your brand.
- Seamless Inventory Management
Maintain real-time visibility of your inventory across all channels. This allows you to implement strategies like “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS), and “buy online, return in store” (BORIS), which enhance customer convenience.
- Personalize the Customer Experience
Use the data collected from various touchpoints to personalize the shopping experience. Personalization can range from recommending products based on past purchases to sending personalized marketing messages.
- Train Your Team
Train your staff to understand and implement omnichannel retailing. They should be able to assist customers across different channels and provide consistent customer service.
- Measure, Analyze and Optimize
Finally, continually measure your omnichannel efforts. Use key metrics such as customer retention rate, purchase frequency, and customer lifetime value to understand how well your strategy is working and where improvements can be made.
Implementing an effective omnichannel retail strategy can help your retail business adapt to evolving consumer behaviors, improve customer experiences, and ultimately increase sales. It requires investment in technology, training, and a shift in thinking, but the potential rewards are significant.
Omnichannel is a cost effective strategy and implementation of the right technology solution is what makes the strategy cost effective. Locus’ Dispatch Management Solution has helped retailers like TATA, LuluGroup, PVH Corp and many more optimize supply chain operations. If your omnichannel strategy is not picking up or you’re still considering it, it’s worth it to see how Locus can fit in. Book a demo
Jun 29, 2022
Locus CEO, Nishith Rastogi met leaders and experts during Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo and shared his insights on logistics industry opportunities.Read more
Beyond Brick-and-Mortar: Why You Should Embrace Omnichannel Retail
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