Click and Collect: The In-Store Fulfillment Challenge
With E-Commerce on a steady rise, ever-connected and price-conscious consumers turn to the option of buying online, and picking up in-store; otherwise known as BOPIS or Click and Collect. In-Store fulfillment tools are a way to both improve the conversion rate of your E-Commerce site, and also boost your in-store foot traffic and increase additional purchases.
Ten years ago there were no smartphones, social media was almost unheard of, and E-Commerce accounted for only 2-3% of total retail sales. Today, 7 out of 10 American Adults own a smartphone and Social Media connects over 1/5th of the world’s population. E-Commerce is grown to over 7.5% of Retail sales, and the blurring between the online and the offline worlds of commerce is growing more and more distinct. This is the world of the ever-connected consumer, and the age of Omni-channel retailing.
We hear you. Omni-channel has become such a tired buzz-word, and while we prefer the term “Unified Commerce”, it is still an apt description for what it boils down to: Commerce, anytime, anywhere. The heart of Omni-channel is the customer experience. They have demanded a unified and seamless journey from retailers, but what does that really mean? In essence, the consumer of today will use a variety of connected devices (Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops/Desktops) to shop/review products online, and then purchase those items online or in store.
For this journey to be seamless and unified, the consumer will need to be able to transition from device to device without loss of information or marketing offering. The customer will also need to be able to transition from online to offline (Web to Store) without loss of information. It means that the consumer is followed through your various integrated pieces of retail technology (Merchandising, OMS, POS, CRM, WMS, Etc.), and it means when they consult Customer Service, that their information follows them regardless of whom they speak with.
The goal in this seamless and unified journey is to limit the amount of friction to the consumer, to tear down the silos that separate the various sales channels (In-Store, Wholesale, Mobile, E-Commerce, Social Media, Catalog, Phone, Mail, etc.), in order to both please the customer, gain their loyalty, and ultimately, the sale.
It sounds simple enough, in theory.
Customer Relationship Management:
The cornerstone of Omni-channel customer management is an integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system which “unifies” the Marketing, Sales and Service activities of your organization (See our Blog on the CRM: Single View of the Customer). The building block of Omni-channel retailing is the ability to purchase and fulfill across channels. With shipping costs on the rise, and the increased number of E-Commerce orders being placed and fulfilled, Retailers and Consumers alike have been turning to BOPIS (Buy Online/Pickup In-Store) as a means to fulfill orders without the shipping fees and to retain business from Online pure-players like Amazon, but also for convenience and speed.
The basic concept works like this:
- The Customer places order online, and selects Pickup In-Store Option.
- The Store is notified of Web-order, item is picked up, segregated and waiting for the Customer.
- The Customer is notified when their item is ready for pickup, or has previously selected a time-slot to collect their item.
- The Customer then visits the store, and picks up the item.
Most retailers feature this fulfillment option on their websites now, yet not all do it well. In a 2015 consumer survey report by JDA, 35% of the respondents reported they had used Click and Collect services in the last 12 months, but of those, 50% had experienced problems with the pickup. The frustrations seem to tend with miscommunication between the retailer and consumer on pickup times, location within stores for the pickup areas, items not actually in stock at the selected location and employees who hadn’t yet segregated the order from the stock in-store. While the majority of the fulfillment can be automated, there are still key human elements that can throw a monkey-wrench into the equation.
Unlike a distribution center where order fulfillment can be exacted with precision (Every item is accounted for in a specific locations both within the warehouse and within the warehouse management system), a Retail store is a dynamic environment, and items within the store maybe broken, misplaced or mislabeled, stolen, left in changing rooms, etc.
To maintain accurate inventory, regular cycle counts must be performed, and inventory levels adjusted accordingly. In addition to having staff count the merchandise to keep the inventory levels as accurate as possible, they will also need to have staff dedicated to locating and picking up the items from the sales floor for each and every web order. These associates should also segregate the item(s) in a holding area or a dedicated pick-up desk, and/or notify the customer that the item(s) are ready for pickup.
Distributed Order Management:
On the technology side, a Distributed Order Management System (DOMs) is able to accomplish the majority of the fulfillment aspects of the In-store Pickup. Keep in mind this still requires human intervention to ensure the item is both in-store, and available for the customer when they come to collect it; not to mention extensive integration with all the other pieces of retail technology within the store and the supply chain to make it even a possibility. For a retail organization, there is a great level of change management required when adopting the Click & Collect program, and only through proper training and continuous reiteration of its importance, can this be mastered.
Advantage2Retail has recently partnered with HighJump, a solutions provider known for their Transport and Warehouse Management software, who saw the challenges of fulfillment within a retail space, and stepped up to the plate. The result was Retail Advantage (We love the name by the way). HighJump Retail Advantage offers extensive, real-time visibility and control functionality to the entire store operation while seamlessly integrating to store point of sale (POS), planograms, order management and ERP systems. This solution can provide your organization with the ability to master the art of Click and Collect, and gain both the satisfaction and loyalty of your customers.
Omni-channel retailing is about the customer experience, give them one to remember.