We’ve entered into the age of the customer at a time where technology is more advanced than ever. Forrester Research reports that the only source of competitive advantage left is an obsession with serving and delighting today’s empowered customers.1 For branded manufacturers, this means catering to customers’ demands for inventory visibility and same day delivery.
In our recent blog posts, we explored how providing the best customer experience as possible is paramount to delivering on customer satisfaction. Whether that experience revolves around shipping times or good product descriptions – everything a brand does must aim to meet customer expectations. Next we are going to explore customer expectations around inventory and the cost of not having inventory on your site.
Did you know that 78% of adults research products online before making a purchase (Pew Research Center)? And that 52% of US consumers prefer to purchase products directly from a manufacturer’s website (Price Waterhouse Cooper)?If you aren’t making inventory visible on your website, you’re disappointing your busy customers who are seeking simplification. Your customers want an easy path to purchase. They don’t want to be redirected to a dealer locator only to waste time calling several stores and sitting on hold while an associate checks to see if an item is in stock. Nor do they want to drive to the store and take a chance on whether or not the item will be available. They want to know where that item is available in real time.
It comes as no surprise that “the next step after offering online visibility of in-store inventory is giving the customer the ability to order online for pickup at the store location.”2 Another study by NCR, found that 68% of North American shoppers want to purchase online and pickup in store. 3
As a branded manufacturer, how do you go about offering inventory visibility and in-store pickup capabilities when you might not have your own retail outlets? By using a distributed order management system and partnering with your dealers to gain access to their inventory in addition to your warehouse or distribution center inventory counts. Think of it as automating your dealer locator. What a dealer locator seeks to accomplish, you are able to do by partnering with your retailers to utilize their stores as in store pickup locations.
Not only that, but you will also start collecting data on your customer’s buying behaviors. You’ll be able to see what products are more popular in what regions, which will aid both you and your dealer network in determining where to stock what products. By stocking products based on customer demand, you’ll better be able to not only meet those demands, but delight customers with added benefits like reduced shipping distances and times, or taking it one step further and having the product on hand for in store pickup in a location near them.
Learn how you can get started today. 1 Lessons In Leading A Digital Business Transformation. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. March 27, 2015. 2 Prioritizing Online Access to In-Store Inventory. Source: Forrester Research, Inc. July 22, 2014 3 Omnichannel Retailing: Making More Dollars, and More Sense. Source: NCR