There’s good news and bad news in Kibo’s latest survey of retailers’ omnichannel offerings. While merchants are making great strides toward a unified brand experience, the “last mile” of the omnichannel path-to-purchase leaves much to be desired for consumers — which means dollars left on the table for sellers.
Kibo’s 2017 “State of Omnichannel Commerce” report details the result of mystery shopping forays both online and offline at more than 30 mid-market and leading retailers. On the surface, it reveals that the vast majority of merchants have adopted best practices when it comes to integrated online and offline experiences. For example, some 87% of merchants offer online shoppers the ability to view product availability at local stores, and store associates at 97% of retailers can view inventory enterprise-wide.
But a deeper dive into the results show that these implementations still lack the complete fluidity today’s consumers demand. To fully realize the potential of their universal inventory and fulfillment operations, merchants must:
Cater to mobile shoppers, not just BOPIS buyers. Kibo’s survey found that not only do most merchants display in-store product availability on their eCommerce sites, but in most cases, shoppers who locate relevant products can secure them immediately for pickup, with 77% of sites offering “buy online, pickup in-store” (BOPIS) or ship-to-store capabilities. Some 78% of consumers report having bought online to pick up in-store in the past six months, according to Kibo’s Consumer Trends Report.
But not every online shopper is set to whip out a credit card. Indeed, while two-thirds of online interactions with brands now occur on mobile devices, mobile transactions remain a small piece of the overall retail pie, which means that the vast majority of online sessions do not result in an immediate purchase. Mobile browsing and research does lead to in-store buying, however, influencing a whopping 31% of all retail sales — which means that sellers should cater to those shoppers heading out the door to buy in-store immediately.
So far, though, most merchants are missing a crucial component of the puzzle: just 35% of sites display inventory quantities, leaving consumers in the dark if they’re unwilling to wait up to a day for their order to be processed, picked, and packed via BOPIS, or even longer for ship-to-store orders. Shoppers headed to the store now want to know how many items are in-stock and even where to find them; especially during the holiday season when top sellers fly off the shelves, such information is crucial. Mass merchant Target’s product page display of fulfillment options both offers the ability to purchase on the spot and lets shoppers know exactly how many items are in store, as well as the aisle number.
Untether store associates from the register when conducting omnichannel business. Enterprise-wide inventory visibility for store staff is a boon, given that more than half of consumers expect associates to be able to find items that are in stock elsewhere, whether on-site or at another location. But while access to inventory for associates is nearly universal, they can only rarely access the information they need while in-aisle with customers. Rather, fully two-thirds of associates must return to a register or terminal to look up inventory. As anyone knows who’s had to trek from a big-box store aisle to the nearest service desk, such an undertaking is rarely quick — undercutting the flow of the associates’ sales interaction and reducing convenience to the shopper.
Furthermore, if associates go on to help shoppers purchase one of those items located elsewhere, a whopping 92% of them must conduct those transactions at a register or computer terminal, rather than completing orders in-aisle. And 24% of associates can’t even help place such orders at all, forcing shoppers to fend for themselves if they want to claim items at other locations. In an era when self-checkout is ubiquitous and checkout-free prototypes such as Amazon Go are establishing new expectations for seamless in-store transactions, such hurdles are increasingly unacceptable. Merchants should invest in solutions such as Kibo’s mobile point of sale to give associates the flexibility they require to meet shoppers’ needs wherever in the store interactions take place.
- which personalization techniques are most common — and most overlooked;
- popular price matching strategies; and
- assessment of store layout and signage