Years ago, RadioShack was the go-to place to pick up consumer electronics. Then came Amazon, which temporarily trumped the classic in-store experience with convenient and cheap online-only shopping. But now, with RadioShack in bankruptcy and a rising tide of omni-channel services, Amazon is rumored to be feeding off the old stores of the retailer it helped to render obsolete.
Louis Basenese wrote on the Wall Street Daily, “The company behind the $175-billion disruptive business that purposefully avoided brick-and-mortar locations at all costs, thereby giving it a distinct cost advantage, is now contemplating embracing brick and mortar.”
And of course that is what’s going to happen. Online-only retailers like Amazon don’t just want to expand into physical retail spaces, they need to. Early on, they experimented with a locker pickup program to give customers a version of the in-store experience—or, at least, a safe place to pick up packages. Lockers never really took off, and it’s easy to understand why: The only way to replicate a full-service, in-store shopping experience is with a store.
In fact, Amazon has already jumped into the brick-and-mortar retail space through a recent partnership with Purdue University. Though Amazon has already been offering Purdue students special ordering services for textbooks, the retailer is scheduled to launch their first campus pickup location this year, complete with staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations.
Of course, Amazon’s need to sell Kindles and other proprietary hardware is one of the main drivers behind the move from an online-only environment to a mix of online and physical stores. But that alone is not enough of a reason to push a company like Amazon into brick and mortar. The much larger driver behind Amazon’s shift is that they, like many other major eCommerce marketplaces, need to find hubs for in-store pickup and returns.
The kicker is that brands and retailers are better positioned than Amazon to offer stellar omni-channel experiences, because they already have an established network of physical locations—the trick is knowing how best to utilize that network and implementing the right tools to do so.
A Forrester survey found that 71% of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online, and 73% reported that they were “likely to very likely” to visit a local store if they could see online inventory, while only 36% said they would make the trip without having such information.
The problem is that most retailers don’t offer this functionality; more so, many brands don’t even know where to begin.
The solution, it turns out, is far easier, cheaper, and quick-to-implement than you probably think. Shopatron has been helping brands utilize in-store inventory from their retailers for years, as well as helping retailers better leverage their stores to fulfill online orders. More recently, we implemented simple and flexible APIs that empower brands to provide accurate inventory visibility, connecting their online customers to in-store products. We have also made the same inventory lookup tools available to retailers.
With accurate inventory lookup in place, brands and retailers can expand into any number of flexible fulfillment options; one of the most popular of which is in-store pickup.
More and more, consumers are looking for online solutions that give them the option to forego delivery costs and wait times, and more importantly, solutions that make it easier to get help from knowledgeable staff, and to return products in-store, if needed.
According to Forrester’s Technographics, the use of “buy online, pickup in-store” has grown to 43% of US all online adult shoppers. And 40% of shoppers make additional purchases once they arrive in a store to pick up their orders.
Inventory visibility is just the beginning. Not only does it enable brands and retailers to launch in-store pickup, but other omni-channel functionality like ship-from-store and in-store returns, as well.
Kibo makes it possible to be up and running in less than 90 days by utilizing a variety of easy-to-integrate APIs and modules that include:
• Same Day In-Store Pickup
• Inventory Lookup
• Ship-to-Store for In-Store Pickup
• In-Store Returns