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5 Complexities to Consider when Shifting to Omni-Channel Retailing.

Posted by Petra Geiger on Feb 14, 2017
Petra Geiger
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The shift to omnichannel retailing requires a different approach and mindset. To date, traditional retail has been a linear process; plan your buy > source your vendors > manufacture product > deliver to store > sell in-store. The new digital retail paradigm disrupts this fairly predictable flow – it becomes much more complex and fluid. Before you embark on a true omnichannel retail solution carefully consider these 5 areas within your retail business and understand the inherent challenges. Ask and answer these key questions to ensure that the retail POS software that you choose supports your vision.

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The Store
A traditional store layout includes a cashwrap and a small storeroom with the remaining square footage dedicated to merchandising space. In omnichannel retail there are additional considerations. For example:

  • If you need to ship items from your store, where will you store the supplies and process the orders?
  • Who will process online orders to be fulfilled in store? When? How?
  • Where will you store merchandise that was purchased online but will be picked up in store?
  • How will you train employees for these new processes and procedures?
  • How will sales associates understand order history and inventory availability across all channels?

The Brand
In omni-channel retailing, you have to carefully cultivate a seamless brand experience across all customer touch points. Today's consumer expects this and will feel a disconnect if their instore and online experiences do not converge. Some considerations include:

  • How will you ensure branding and messaging are consistent across the enterprise?
  • How will you collect and harness essential customer data across all channels?
  • How will your marketing strategy play out across all channels?
  • How will you leverage social media channels to drive traffic?
  • How will you implement a holistic loyalty program?

Commerce
As you merge your brick and mortar channels with your ecommerce portal, you have to determine how commerce will flow between the two. Systems and platforms must work together for a single source of truth, otherwise the efforts becomes time consuming, confusing and data can be compromised along the way. 

  • How will your ecommerce, purchasing, POS and accounting software work together?
  • Does your POS platform allow for custom integrations?
  • Which system will serve as the Retail Management hub?
  • What IT support will be necessary, if at all?
  • How will your software accomodate the inevitable changes that the future will bring?

Fulfillment
Omnichannel demands a resilient supply chain. As we mentioned earlier, the linear flow of inventory is replaced with a dynamic and multi-directional flow. Often unpredictable there are many variables, in fact, potential fulfillment points can be anywhere a product resides. Work arounds no longer suffice, each possibility must be accounted for - including the reverse flow.

  • Does your POS software provide inventory visibility across all channels?
  • Is inventory updated in real-time to avoid overselling?
  • Can items flow seamlessly between channels? Can an online order be returned in store and credited accordingly?
  • Can you purchase and receive through one portal for the whole enterprise?
  • Can you split-ship orders between locations?

Planning
For optimal planning across an omnichannel retail enterprise, you need accurate data - anytime and anywhere. Your forcasting and planning will demand an enterprise level view of the organization.

  • Can you customize your data to see the business from multiple vantage points?
  • Can you determine from which channel demand is being generated down to the product level?
  • Can you trust data accuracy across the entire enterprise?
  • Is your system agile allowing you to respond on-the-fly to changing market conditions?
  • Can your software help you grow more profitably?

The reality is, omnichannel retailing demands an advanced, sophisticated and integrated POS system that can handle the complexities of today's retail reality. But, as a mid-sized retailer you need that software solution to be affordable and easy-to-use. Luckily, there are several options on the market today including Springboard Retail. As you embrace the complexities of omnichannel retail, ask the right questions and understand your options.

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Topics: Business of Retail

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