Going Omnichannel: 3 Operational Challenges Retailers Face
While stating that omnichannel is the surefire road to success maybe exaggeration, it’s the path retail is taking and consumers expect no less.
Even so, providing a seamless omnichannel experience is a journey that calls for diligent co-ordination between an organization’s tech acumen and detailed business ops planning. Some of the common challenges retailers face when implementing omnichannel are drawn out below.
Research has shown that buyers like to browse and make purchases online but prefer picking up the product offline, from the store.
Whether this is to save on delivery time or costs, the fact is it throws the retailer’s inventory management haywire. An inventory tracker that functions in the real time and allows the customer access to all inventories is vital to implement this store-pickup feature.
But with the current practice of batch processing, where the inventory updates are not fed in the system at real time but at the end of the business day, is a classic case of legacy operations business hurdle.
Consider this scenario of the omnichannel store-pickup feature: A customer has ordered apparel online and has opted for the store-pickup. But due to the batch processes, the store manager is unable to update the inventory in real time. This leaves the manager clueless as to how he can avoid going out of stock of that item before the online customer turns up at the store.
Even after the drawbacks of legacy systems have been sorted out, it is critical to train the entire sales staff in constant and complete awareness as well as tech management to enable them to use the inventory management system. Even then, the chance of human error is never fully eliminated.
Blurring of Point of Sale (POS)
Your customer walks into your store, browses the products on display and decides to buy one right away. She takes out her cellphone and proceeds to make the purchase online, with a special discount being offered on the app. Then she opts for a pickup from store instead of getting the purse delivered to her. So to which point do you attribute this cross-channel sale? With a tussle like this, how will any channel meet target and justify investment and cost or running?
Customer information integration
When your customer purchases online but walks into your store to initiate exchange or return, how is the transaction to progress without the required billing information? And how do you identify an in-store customer as the one who buys a particular style of shoes from your web store every few months? Customers expect personalization and the same shopping experience across platforms, and if the retailer is unable to offer that due to lack of data, it defeats the purpose of going omnichannel.
There are no textbook solutions to these hurdles; each business will find a different policy suitable to its requirements. But preempting and preparing for these will help you and your business overcome them and emerge successful in winning your customers over.
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