Traditionally physical retailers, such as those in the grocery sector or retail, prioritise investment into their brick-and-mortar stores – but this will no longer cut it, especially this year where online will most definitely come to the fore. Even those with a multi-channel offering must reassess whether their eCommerce and online fulfilment processes are as seamless as they can be. They should be looking to implement an end-to-end initiative that covers everything from the eCommerce experience and warehouse practices to order fulfilment and how their physical and digital offerings collaborate to keep up with demand.
By implementing an integrated platform to facilitate eCommerce and fulfilment, retailers will be able to take advantage of a closer integration between their online and brick-and-mortar offerings to better serve customers hungry for a Christmas bargain. A connected end-to-end solution can enable retailers to achieve quick delivery to customers from local stores, and will allow shoppers to receive the items they want even if they’re out of stock in the warehouse; ideal in the festive period when retailers want to shift stock before the January sales. The seamless integration of information from an OMS is vital as it will enable staff to keep track of stock levels across the retailer’s entire estate and leverage it to fulfil orders when customers would previously have been told that their item is out of stock, causing them to look elsewhere – optimising opportunities to sell.
With the current unpredictable political and economic landscape likely to continue into next year, it’s hard for retailers to predict sales levels. Some have money to spend after months of home working, saving on the commute; whereas others have sadly seen wages hit. Whilst you could argue the BRC’s campaign is designed to encourage spending whilst some have the funds, retailers should also be wary that others will be tightening their belts as a result of lost income from the pandemic. With the proliferation of buy now, pay later payment platforms this might be negated to a degree, but for many this Christmas may not be a happy one.
Retail is a cornerstone of the UK economy, and as we progress through the ‘golden quarter’, with sales days coming thick and fast, and initiatives to get us spending, retailers hopefully will be able to find some joy in a turbulent year. However, to give themselves the best opportunities, they can’t forget the holy grail – customer experience. It will be a bun fight, so those whose processes are optimised best and can leverage their channels and store estates to manage their stock efficiently will no doubt come out on top, no matter when people start buying.
This article was written by Tom Williams, Head of eCommerce at Naveo Commerce. This article was originally published by CILT Focus, you can view the magazine entry here.