The Future of Retail: Keeping Customers Connected

Real-time store intelligence and execution exceed customers’ expectations in an increasingly mobile omni-channel, retail world.

cover of Inventory Intelligence white paper

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In the ever-growing omni-channel retail marketplace, stores are pressured to maximize their in-store experience. But traditional store solutions that plan staffing and other tasks on historical data alone are simply missing the mark. Today the in-store environment is advancing at such a rapid pace that retailers must update technology quickly to meet the demands of omni-channel shoppers.

The omni-channel customer seeks convenience, consistency, accessibility and service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These “connected consumers,” have a desire to shop anywhere, anytime, in any way they choose. They expect to be able to look up product availability before visiting the store and use their mobile phones while shopping to explore promos, reviews, product information and store in-stock availability at a moment’s notice.

These high expectations may seem more trouble than they’re worth, but research shows omni-channel shoppers spend, on average, additional 15-30% over single-channel shoppers – along with having a stronger brand loyalty, heavy influence on other shoppers and an increased likelihood to tweet and write reviews on products and their experience.

Making the Omni-Channel Promise

The first step toward total customer satisfaction is the ability to confidently promise an item to the customers’ orders; regardless of how they choose to shop. To effectively follow through on this promise, retailers need access to real-time, accurate inventory visibility in all stores and warehouses.

The Omni-Channel Shopper’s Expectations

  • 72% expect to look up the product availability before the visit
  • 71% want associates to be able to check inventory at other locations
  • 85% expect a consistent shopping experience across the brand

“The pressures are about giving the customer the greatest number of choices, and not constraining them in how they interact with the retailer. So for example, retailers that offer buy online/pick up in store put the customer in the store today versus tomorrow, and it means the customer is happier and may buy more. It opens up numerous omni-channel retailing opportunities to expand service and sales. But if a retailer doesn’t have the foundational elements of inventory visibility and accuracy, they’ll be afraid to make that kind of promise,” said Gordon Adams, Tyco Senior Vice President, Sales and Delivery.

The idea of inventory visibility may sound easy enough, but the inventory management systems most retailers are using just aren’t up to par. The systems lack accuracy and leave huge room for error resulting in out-of-stocks, delayed orders and unhappy customers, ultimately affecting the retailer’s bottom line.

But advanced inventory visibility solutions, like those from Tyco Retail Solutions, provide actionable insights in the form of a sophisticated, easy to use, item-level inventory management solution with radio frequency identification (RFID). Advanced inventory visibility gives retailers insight into the inventory process to effectively track their inventory from replenishment to the store floor, all while simultaneously reducing operational costs by refining processes impacted from poor inventory tracking and decreasing shrinkage. In fact, Tyco’s solutions drive significant improvements in the inventory accuracy process, up to 99% in many cases. This accuracy translates into performance gains for retailers to help to reach financial goals and exceed customer expectations.

The Overlooked Piece of the Omni-Channel Puzzle

While inventory intelligence is the basis to ensuring orders are filled in a timely and efficient manner, there’s another commonly overlooked, yet critical component Tyco’s inventory solutions offer – traffic intelligence. Traffic intelligence is what gives you insight into your customer’s shopping patterns. By capturing this key shopper activity within the store, retailers have data to show how to react and plan accordingly to provide maximum customers service to both in-store and online shoppers.

But to really stay on top in the omni-channel marketplace, retailers must also follow through with an effective plan using this inventory and traffic data. That’s why Tyco Retail Solutions partnered with Reflexis, a pioneer in work workforce management/task execution solutions that enable retailers to execute their strategy flawlessly and uncover profit. The Reflexis platform of integrated task management, KPI/compliance, time and attendance, and labor scheduling (including budgeting and forecasting) solutions helps retailers align store labor/activities to corporate goals and institutionalize best-practice response to real-time metrics.

The connection of intelligence and execution is the foundation to implementing omni-channel retail with confidence. As omni-channel customer inventory requests are submitted, such as buy online/pick-up in store, real-time inventory picking tasks can be generated by associates and locations within the store. Order fulfillment becomes timely and efficient, while supporting corporate store execution and customer experience strategies.

Additionally, the Reflexis system can take the traffic intelligence data provided by Tyco and intelligently assign associates to help where they’re needed based on what’s happening in the store at that given moment. By understanding the number of customers entering the store, Reflexis provides retailers with the ability to plan store associates schedules accordingly to help drive sales and improve customer service. Plus, knowing the number of customers in line at a point of sale (POS) allows Reflexis to generate mobile alerts to associates, letting them know their assistance is needed at the front of the store. Reflexis analyzes the Tyco real-time actionable inventory and traffic intelligence data to intelligently assign actions to associates and respond to what is happening in the store right now.

“When applications including workforce and task management, real-time inventory management, and customer support tools are connected via a common store integration platform, modern workers are more engaged and motivated to get work done, help customers, and support each other. This drives more operations efficiencies, workforce satisfaction and customer loyalty,” said Leslie Hand, Research Director, IDC Retail Insights.

Click here to access Tyco’s white paper on the benefits of Omni-Channel Retailing.

Filed under Omni-ChannelKeywords inventory accuracy; inventory intelligence; inventory visibility; out-of-stock reduction; retail operation; Store Execution; Store Performance

Published on 1/7/2013 Permalink


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