Powering the Connected Store and Omni-Channel Retailing this Holiday Season

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If recent hiring announcements are any indication, the 2016 holiday season is quickly becoming the first fully “omni-channel” holiday.

Major retailers are scheduling, even hiring, additional staff to fulfill online orders at the store level either through buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS) or ship-to- or from-store options. According to a recent Accenture survey, “…purchasing online with in-store delivery/pickup was the top retailer benefit that shoppers plan to take advantage of this year, cited by 48 percent of respondents, up from 36 percent in 2015.” However, retailers will need more than just the additional staff to meet consumers’ holiday demands; they will need visibility and access to actionable insights.

Making your (Inventory) List & Checking it Twice

RFID is the proven technology that enables accurate inventory visibility to support complex omni-channel fulfillment options.

A customer came in looking for the holiday season “It toy,” but you just ran out. In the past, finding that toy would be like finding a needle in a haystack. But RFID allows associates equipped with mobile devices to select and order merchandise regardless of item location. Sales associates won’t have to leave the floor to “check in the back” or call another location, wasting everyone’s time during this hectic shopping season. With RFID, retailer can offer to have the item picked up at another location or have their item shipped directly to the store, with a customer or gift recipient.

You’ll Know When You’re Out-of-Stock

With item-level inventory accuracy, retailers can confidently promise items to customers on time and through their chosen fulfilment channel. This helps cut down on expensive mitigation strategies, like keeping excessive safety stock on hand or rushing shipments from alternate locations.

Additionally, with accurate inventory insight, returned merchandise can be made quickly available again for sale. Otherwise, these returned products are virtually invisible to retailers and will be eventually marked down and sold at reduced margins, resulting in lost revenue.

Customers will Have a Jubilee

Similar to BOPIS, many apparel retailers and department stores are now offering “reserve and try on” options. This allows consumers to reserve clothing online and have it waiting for them at the store to try on before purchasing.

With accurate item-level inventory insight, sales associates can quickly and easily pick from the store floor and have items ready in the fitting room area for the customers. This additional insight into individual products arms associates with knowledge to offer to offer other complementary items or sizing recommendations.

Photo credit: pnoeric via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

Posted on December 5th, 2016

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