This article first appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of OnWindows.
Consumers today are comfortable with an ‘always-on’ shopping experience that delivers optimal assortments and flexible fulfilment options, regardless of the channels they use. By aligning processes, people, data and systems around omnichannel planning, retailers can prepare themselves to optimise customers’ shopping experiences.
Today’s retail sales may originate online, but they’re often fulfilled inside a store. Visibility into enterprise-wide inventory levels, and having the right merchandise available at the consumer’s fulfilment channel of choice, is essential. By capturing and analysing both sales demand (where the order is placed) and fulfilment demand (where it’s fulfilled), retailers gain visibility into true demand.
Inaccuracies in inventory counts can lead to out-of-stocks, lost sales and disappointed customers, so retailers need to ensure accuracy and visibility across all channels and distribution options. Inventory optimisation enables retailers to position inventory where it is most likely to be needed and to ensure that products are available wherever demand arises.
Execution of localised assortments is becoming a key differentiator in an increasingly saturated omnichannel marketplace, but this remains a highly complex undertaking. By developing a universal assortment that serves as a menu from which planners can create channel-specific assortment offerings, retailers are better positioned to cater to local trends and plan for variances.
Besides featuring more digital touchpoints, savvy brands are also restructuring stores to help consumers complete their shopping journey in an efficient and satisfying way. Next-generation space planning models now must address new formats, expanded categories and dedicated real estate for in-store pick-up, while new store models must be based on shoppers’ navigation and purchase patterns across categories, store locations, channels and departments. This insight enables retailers to more effectively plan their store layouts to address customer behaviour and increase revenue.
Customer demand data opens up a wealth of opportunity. With insights centred on what, how, when and why shoppers buy and what they pay, retailers are primed to target products at customers across all their selling channels. Affinity analysis on the customer and purchased product provides the opportunity to upsell complementary products.
Finally, it’s important to execute meaningful pricing strategies. Customers expect to pay the same price for a product regardless of where the transaction occurs, and inconsistent pricing strategies can cause frustration and distrust. Building a clearly defined base omnichannel pricing strategy, and managing exceptions when dealing with timely or seasonal products, can ensure that customers are confident in the organisation’s practices.
Peter Leith is vice president of product strategy at JustEnough
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