Online Retail Today
Customer Fulfillment is Key to Building a Top-Shelf Furniture Company

Customer Fulfillment is Key to Building a Top-Shelf Furniture Company

Started in 1995, OFM has evolved into one of the country’s leading sellers of office furniture for general businesses, schools, government offices and hospitals.

Blessed with an eye for spotting elegantly designed, high-quality furniture, the Zalcberg family has sustained an unwavering commitment to delivering unrivaled value to their customers, offering top quality office furniture at affordable prices along with high-touch customer service.

Headquartered in Holly Springs, NC, the company has since grown to more than 35 employees, including Blake Zalcberg, who started out filing papers in the back office at age 12 and currently serves as the company’s CEO. Today, OFM has distribution facilities in Raleigh, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona along with a large network of online and offline retail fulfillers, including Officefurniture.com, Wayfair and Office Depot.

It was OFM’s keen appreciation for shipping and fulfillment that first led them to consider Kibo. “We wanted to help our customers locate the products they want more quickly and easily right from our website,” says Bob Poe, OFM Online Channel Partner Sales Manager. “Since we sell to businesses, we understand that our customers don’t have a lot of time to spare.”

Kibo’s distributed order management platform enables OFM’s customers to locate and purchase products directly on OFM’s website, which is where many of their customers begin their purchase journey. Those orders, in turn, are routed to local dealers for fast and convenient fulfillment.

Because Kibo offers a flexible and affordable cloud-based solution, OFM was able to implement the solution in a few short months. This means they could start capturing and routing more sales right away.

“Business has been great,” says Bob. “Our end customers are even more delighted with the sales experience, and our dealers have even more incentive to stock our inventory.”

Since launching with Kibo a little over a year ago, OFM has been passing nearly 100% of their orders to their fulfillers, which has resulted in more revenue for their dealers along with improved stocking habits. And their GMV has been growing steadily since January, with June shaping up to be their best month this year.

So what’s next for OFM?

“We’re always searching for new items to help our customers create a comfortable and productive work environment,” says Bob. “Right now, we’re selling more products for an open floor plan. As for what comes next, we are constantly evolving and we’ll be poised to meet any trend head on with the best office furnishings on the market.”

To learn more about how Kibo can help you deliver a great customer experience through seamless order management and fulfillment capabilities, check out our manufacturer solutions.

How Retailers Are Increasing Foot Traffic in an Omni-Channel Retail World

How Retailers Are Increasing Foot Traffic in an Omni-Channel Retail World

Given the accelerating pace of technology innovation, consumers have more purchasing options than ever before — in-store, online, mobile, overnight shipping and ship-from-store, to name a few. And with these options, retailers are facing new challenges each day.

One major challenge is maintaining in-store foot traffic in an omni-channel marketplace. Many consumers are skipping a trip to the store and turning, instead, to their smartphones and tablets. In turn, retailers are being forced to devise more creative strategies to get customers in the door.

So, how can retailers increase in-store foot traffic in an age of avid online shopping?

It’s all about convenience.
If you’re a retailer, spend a day in the shoes of a customer. Would you rather sort through racks of clothing looking for the right color, size and style, or simply enter your desired product descriptors into an online search bar and have exact results in less than a minute?

When it comes to brick and mortar, retailers must provide the same seamless shopping journey that customers have grown accustomed to experiencing online. This means you need to make it easy for them to find the products they want. Some enterprising retailers have implemented creative merchandising strategies to meet shifting demands. Charming Charlie, for instance, now shelves products by color to improve customer convenience.

Other forward-thinking retailers are leveraging technology to connect online and offline shopping. Retail giant Macy’s, for example, has added life-sized digital displays with interactive touch-screens to its stores, allowing customers to find the products they want more quickly and easily. These displays seamlessly integrate with mobile shopping experiences that include in-store maps and special promotions.

Smaller stores, such as Hointer in Seattle, are also taking steps to combine the convenience of online shopping with the experience of shopping in store. The Hointer beta store makes it easy for men to shop with the help of their smartphones. Hointer displays one of each item, rather than piles of different colors and sizes. Shoppers can scan the item on their smartphone, select a size and color and find the item waiting for them at a dressing room in less than a minute. If they don’t like the item, it is removed from their online shopping cart. Oh, and there’s no need for checkout. The customer keeps the items they want and checkout is completed through an app upon exiting the store.

But don’t forget the experience.
While convenience is a major factor in increasing foot traffic, retailers shouldn’t forget about the timeless benefits of the in-store experience.

Consumers still have a decided preference for physically engaging with products and like to get assistance from sales associates. In fact, 61% of consumers still value asking sales associates for information, and 69% expect sales associates to be armed with a mobile device (Forrester). Equipping associates with mobile devices not only allows them to stay up-to-date on product information, but also enables them to offer promotions, view real-time inventory visibility and ring up sales without need of a cash register, culminating in a seamless customer experience.

In order to keep today’s technology savvy customers coming back for more in store, the key is to make the journey more enjoyable and convenient.

5 Ways Real-Time Inventory Data Improves In-Store Merchandising

Improve In-Store Merchandising with Real-Time Inventory Data

With the dizzying array of shopping choices and channels, finding products is as easy as clicking a button. But if your customers don’t find the products they want, they’ll move on quicker than you can type “Amazon.”

To avoid losing a sale, not to mention a customer, retailers must make smart merchandising decisions to connect customers with the products they want over the channels they prefer, before they look elsewhere. Still, the questions of what to stock, how much to stock, and which promotions to offer continue to grow more complex as retailers integrate online and offline channels. By accessing and analyzing real-time inventory data, retailers can gain a competitive advantage and improve in-store merchandising and sales like never before.

So how can you get real-time inventory data? Leading retailers are turning to cloud-based platforms, like Kibo, to enable streamlined, up-to-date inventory visibility and insights. Unlike on-premise platforms, our flexible APIs enable easy and cost-effective implementation to get you up and running at the speed of market.

Here are five ways real-time inventory can help you improve in-store merchandising:

  1. Out-of-stock no more. With real-time inventory visibility, you can spend less time worrying about stock-out scenarios, and more time focusing on your customers. Why? Because your inventory is always accurate and up-to-date across all channels. And if a consumer is unable to purchase a desired item online, you can easily direct them to the nearest local store that has the item in stock.
  2. Improve product pricing. By comparing real-time product search results to sales results, you can evaluate the viability of your current pricing model. If customers are searching for a particular product in droves, yet conversion rates are low, you’ll know it’s time to revisit your product pricing strategy.
  3. Always trending. Stop playing stocking guessing games! Gain a better understanding of customer shopping habits by analyzing what products are selling best, when and where.
  4. Promote this! Improve ROI on targeted promotions by viewing real-time information on product searches. With data-supported insights, retailers can offer geo-targeted deals tailored to customer segments, including mobile and social promotions.
  5. Happy customers, healthy revenue. Satisfied customers go hand-in-hand with a successful retail business. Customers today have high expectations and demand seamless, simple shopping experiences. With inventory visibility, shoppers can quickly find the products they want in the locations they prefer. And that means you win the sale.

When all is said and done, inventory visibility opens the door for you to better purchasing, pricing and promotion decisions, resulting in improved profitability.

Imagine a retail space where the answers to all your inventory and merchandising questions are right at your fingertips. Kibo gives you the tools to provide your customers with a streamlined omni-channel shopping experience along with the actionable insights you need to optimize in-store merchandising, inventory and stocking.

Check out our long list of our Omnichannel Resources to learn how you can partner with Kibo to drive more more traffic and sales across online and offline channels.

Shopatron’s Perfect Sync Streamlines Data for Seamless Support

Kibo’s Perfect Sync Streamlines Data for Seamless Support

When it comes to support, today’s retail customers will not settle for virtual time. They expect knowledgeable assistance from customer support and sales associates in real time. And that requires great communication.

But legacy eCommerce platforms often suffer from poor communication between the front-end and OMS. Kibo is putting an end to that with its Perfect Sync technology. Seamlessly connecting your front-end and OMS in real-time, our flexible, cost-effective APIs allow you to enter data once and enjoy a real-time, unified view of product information, inventory, orders, customer data, promotions, appeasements and more—all accessible via any connected device.

Here’s how it works. Orders are also processed faster and more accurately by allowing the front-end to handle the processing of orders along with calculation of tax and promotions. That means Kibo can focus on what we do best—intelligently route orders to the optimal fulfillment location via the delivery option that is most convenient to the shopper.

The result is empowered customer support agents and sales associates. Retailers can expect significant reductions in the time and labor associated with double entry, while reducing database errors and improving security. And the flexible, cost-effective, cloud-based solution can have you up and running in 90 days, in plenty of time for the holiday shopping season.

Of course, your customers don’t care about APIs. What they want—and will get—is a world-class shopping experience. Perfect Sync empowers your support and sales associates to access up-to-the-minute product and order information and offer targeted promotions and save-the-sale appeasements—culminating in increased brand loyalty and sales.

“For more than a decade, Kibo cloud-based platform has been driving an industry shift from legacy order management to SaaS-based distributed order management solutions,” says Shopatron Founder Ed Stevens. “Our Perfect Sync technology represents a key differentiator in providing a flexible, streamlined solution for online and offline retail fulfillment. This is the natural next step toward enabling seamless omni-channel retail commerce.”

Perfect Sync lays the groundwork for Kibo’s upcoming Demandware cartridge release. Developed in collaboration with Lyons Consulting Group, the cartridge will soon be certified for inclusion in Demandware’s LINK program. The cartridge powers a SaaS-to-SaaS connection that allows Demandware customers to deploy advanced fulfillment and support capabilities quickly and easily, including in-store pickup, ship-from-store, inventory lookup, vendor drop-ship and real-time customer support capabilities without disrupting existing eCommerce deployments, POS systems or warehousing applications.

To learn more about Perfect Sync, download this Snapshot. And be sure to check out our white papers and case studies to find out how Kibo can help your business compete and win in today’s competitive retail landscape.

Why Customer Experience Will Win the Sale

Why Customer Care Will Win the Sale

Consumers are largely motivated by one thing: Price. And with the proliferation of omnichannel technology in the retail space, today’s shopper can easily access product information anytime, anywhere, making it easier than ever to find the best deals.

With a wealth of information at their fingertips, including product details, promotions, coupons, and sales, consumers have become even more selective with what they spend their money on and who they spend their money with. So the question remains: In this era of the intelligent, savvy consumer, how can brands and retailers gain a competitive edge and win the sale?

The answer: Customer care. While many companies attempt to establish a loyal customer base with competitive pricing, exclusive deals, rewards programs, and even cutting-edge products, consumer loyalty often results from delivering stellar customer service. According to SalesForce, customer service ranks as the number one factor influencing consumer trust in a company. Without that trust, customers will go elsewhere to make their purchases, even if the prices are higher. In fact, research shows that 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience (Defaqto Research) and are four times more likely to buy from a competitor with superior customer support if a problem is service-related.

There is no denying that customer care fundamentally changes how a consumer feels about a certain brand or retailer. But in the new omnichannel commerce landscape, customer service is, itself, fundamentally changing. With the recent shift towards the multi-touch shopping experience, which blurs the lines between online and offline sales channels, providing exceptional customer service across all channels has become increasingly complex.

According to Forrester, 42% of service agents are unable to resolve customer issues efficiently due to disconnected systems, archaic user interfaces and multiple applications. To keep up with shifting consumer demands and continue to win the sale, customer service agents require easy access to information for customers, products, orders, and current inventory. With that in mind, Kibo recently made drastic improvements to its customer service offerings with our new and improved Customer Care Suite.

Recognizing the importance of customer care and understanding that it extends beyond the point of purchase, the Customer Care Suite makes it simpler than ever for service teams to assist customers with their order inquiries. Store associates, call-center agents and supervisors can quickly look up a customer’s personal information and order details and, from there, they can edit, alter or cancel orders in addition to offering save-the-sale promotions and appeasements. With the advanced capabilities of the Customer Care Suite, Kibo enables a frictionless multi-channel shopping experience across online and offline channels.

Connecting customers with fast, efficient and, most importantly, courteous support is key to building brand equity and creating a lasting customer relationship. As more consumers choose to shop online, the customer service experience must be seamless. Eighty-three percent of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase (eConsultancy), and 45% of US consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly (Forrester). Providing omnichannel customer care is no longer a need-to-have, but a must-have, in order to establish the positive customer relationships that will win you the sale—and the customer—time and again.

Ready to provide a world-class customer service experience? Explore the Resource Center for features and benefits.

Laying Down a Track for Success with Telefunken Elektroakustik

Laying Down a Track for Success with Telefunken Elektroakustik

Gripped, grabbed and groped more than any other musical gear (including the deftly dandled guitar), few items are more intimate to a musician than a mic. As Sinead O’Connor once said, “Nobody gets between me and my microphone.”

That’s why music enthusiast and studio owner Toni Fishman searched the world over to find just the right equipment to record his artists. So when he discovered the mics built by century-old Telefunken GmbH of Germany, it was nothing short of love. Brilliantly engineered to deliver a crisp yet supple resonance, this was the stuff of dreams. Instead of just provisioning his studios, he went a step further. In 2009, Toni acquired a license to sell Telefunken’s preeminent product line across the globe under the name Telefunken Elektroakustik.

Toni’s mission was simple: Connect musicians with the world’s finest audio equipment, and then sample the sonorous sound. And, let’s just say, mission accomplished. The eclectic roster of celebrated artists who share Toni’s passion for Telefunken’s products features ZZ Top, Snoop Dogg, Phish, Counting Crows and Tim McGraw. And the list (and beat) goes on.

While the customer base is booming over at Telefunken Elektroakustik, Toni wanted to empower his loyal network of dealers to stock and sell more products. That’s when he turned to Kibo. Toni recognized that more and more customers were researching their website to learn about their products and brand. In fact, around 35% of consumers typically begin their product search by visiting a manufacturer’s website (Price Waterhouse Cooper).

“We couldn’t be more jazzed about signing with Shopatron (Kibo),” says Alan Venitosh of Telefunken. “We regard this relationship as a way to reward our distributors, while providing our customers with a great online shopping experience. Soon, our customers will be able to order the products they want over our website and have it delivered from a local vendor—fast and cost-effectively.”

Telefunken plans to launch their full eCommerce store in June. Because Kibo offers a flexible, cloud-based solution, implementing takes only a couple of months instead of up to a year with an on-premise platform. It’s also a fraction of the cost to get up and running—with light-weight APIs that seamlessly integrate with nearly any legacy eCommerce system. All of which sounds awfully sweet to Telefunken.

“We’re pretty stoked about Shopatron (Kibo),” says Alan. “And we look forward to making some beautiful music together.”

To learn more about Kibo’s leading eCommerce solution, check our website for an archive of informative white papers and case studies that demonstrate Kibo’s value in action.

5 Tips for Improving Your Omnichannel Customer Experience

5 Tips for Improving Your Omnichannel Customer Experience

Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with the world, including how we shop for the products we want.

Little more than a decade ago, a smiling sales associate and a 1-800 support number were enough to ensure a great customer experience. Today, that same merchant must enable a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels—mobile, tablet, laptop, print, in-store—or risk losing the sale or, what’s worse, the customer.

Pioneering brands and retailers view the shifting landscape as an opportunity to break ahead of the pack and reap the rewards. And for good reason. According to Forrester, online retail sales accounted for almost 9% of the $3.2 trillion total retail market in 2013 and are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 10% through 2018. Given the potential ROI, how will you prioritize your technology investments to seize competitive advantage?

Here are 5 tips for building an innovative, omnichannel customer experience to satisfy today’s demanding multi-touch consumers:

1. Be responsive to your customers:
In order to maximize online sales and build brand equity, you need to go where the eyeballs are—this means optimizing your online shopping experience to work over all connected devices. Simply put, a responsive website displays and functions perfectly over any sized screen. A recent Cisco survey revealed that mobile search currently touches in-store and online purchase for 29% and 33% of shoppers respectively. eBay has reported that more than half of their online sales touch mobile devices. Nonetheless, a Forrester study for Accenture indicates that a staggering 94% of retail decision-makers face significant barriers to supporting a truly integrated omnichannel business. That signifies a huge opportunity for nimble retailers to gain early mover advantage. And lest you think this only applies to retailers, think again. Forrester reports that 23% of customers purchase from a manufacturer’s website via mobile or tablet. In sum, whether you’re a brand or retailer, your customers are searching for your products online—often using a mobile phone or tablet. Relaunching a fully responsive website—including a responsive store that enables you to capture those sales, supported by Kibo—should be a top priority on your technology road map.

2. Arm sales associates for action:
Whether you’re a retailer or brand, your sales associates serve as frontline brand ambassadors. In order to give them the information they need to succeed, associates should be equipped with mobile phones or tablets that surface detailed product information, promotions and customer data to assist with every aspect of the in-store shopping experience. This includes processing in-store pickups and returns (which typically result in incremental sales). A recent customer survey reveals that 69% of customers expect sales associates to be armed with mobile devices. And although 84% of consumers research on a mobile device while in-store (Google), 61% of customers still like to receive information from sales associates, with 72% expecting the sales associate to help track down desired products from another retail location. Despite this trend, Forrester reports that 40% of retailers currently lack a fully integrated eCommerce platform. As the industry-leading provider of cloud-based distributed order management for manufacturers and brands, our capabilities enable sales associates to access comprehensive, real-time product information and customer data via any connected device, also empowering the sales associate to process in-store returns, track inventory and offer appeasements. These technical capabilities result in a better experience for today’s click-to-brick shoppers.

3. Enable real-time inventory:
Offering a stellar customer experience means eliminating the frustration of out-of-stock scenarios. Today’s customers expect real-time visibility into product inventory via multiple channels. In fact, 82% of consumers ranked access to current product availability as a top priority (Accenture). For retailers, this can mean the difference between making and breaking the sale. In fact, 27% of consumers state that they would visit another retailer entirely if unable to locate a product quickly and easily. It all comes down to this: Your customers expect to track down the products they want instantly and arrange for fast delivery or free in-store pickup. Our easy-to-implement distributed order management platform enables merchants to surface inventory to customers, sales associates and customer support via any connected screen. By providing real-time access to inventory, your customers will be happy, which means you’ll capture more sales.

4. Empower omnichannel customer support:
Never underestimate the value of providing a world-class customer care experience. Failing to connect your customers with prompt, courteous and knowledgeable support will erode customer loyalty quicker than you can click from your site to Amazon. Companies that provide omnichannel customer care strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year increases in client retention rates than companies that don’t, according to Aberdeen Group. This results in enhanced profitability and lifetime customer value. Retail leaders, like Macy’s, have invested heavily in creating a single, unified omnichannel experience, so customers enjoy frictionless shopping and support via all channels—whether speaking with a customer service rep or shopping in-store. This has helped Macy’s enjoy a 62% increase in brand value, according to world-leading brand consultancy, Interbrand. We at Kibo believe that providing a seamless customer support experience will not only drive revenue, but significantly increase customer loyalty. Our Customer Care Suite enables retailers and brands to provide branded customer support through our dedicated support team or to use their own customer support team. Either way, associates enjoy real-time access to product information and promotions and can cancel or modify an order, provide real-time inventory data and offer save-the-sale appeasements for a world-class customer experience.

5. Keep customers in the loop:
More than same-day delivery, special promotions and even free shipping, your customers want clear communications around when their products will arrive over the channels they prefer. Whether an order is being shipped from a warehouse or routed by Kibo’s patented APIs to a retail store for fast delivery or in-store pickup, your customers want to receive up-to-date information on when their products will be delivered to store or door. In a recent Forrester consumer survey, 83% of customers rated knowing when a package would arrive as the single most important service a brand or retailer could provide, followed closely by the ability to buy products online and pick up in-store. Giving your customers the ability to select either text or email for order notifications and providing clear communications on order tracking and delivery status will go a long way toward improving customer retention.

If you want to achieve lasting eCommerce success, it all comes down to creating an integrated omni-channel shopping experience that connects your customers with the products they want across every step of their shopping journey. By prioritizing your technology investments to support a unified, omnichannel shopping experience, you have the ability to push ahead of the pack and drive positive brand equity, revenue and lifetime customer value.