When shopping in your store, customers want what they want, when they want it, and where they want it. Sounds easy enough, right? Of course not. The concept of omnichannel can seem overwhelming at times, and trying to meet customer’s omnichannel expectations can feel like too much.While it can be a somewhat tricky problem to solve, there are some things you can do to make omnichannel simpler. In this blog, we’re going to break omnichannel down to 5 simple steps for fulfillment success in retail today:
Step 1: BOPIS/ROPIS/ISPU
BOPIS stands for “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” and ROPIS is a variation of that; “Reserve Online, Pickup In-Store.” And since we apparently didn’t have enough acronyms to deal with, BOPIS can sometimes be confused with a unique Scottish dish comprised of ground meat, so the term ISPU (In-Store Pickup) has now emerged as well.
But at the end of the day, what are we trying to achieve? Often times customers will go online to check in-store inventory before they will even go into a physical retail store. The goal is for your customers to be able to go online and purchase or reserve an item that is already available in-store.
This step to omnichannel can be achieved by integrating your e-commerce site directly with your POS, enabling visibility of your in-store inventory online for customers to buy or reserve items for pickup. From there, your online site can communicate back to your in-store POS by creating a sales order that will reserve the item with the customer information.
Step 2: Endless Aisle
There are various definitions for endless aisle out there, but in a nutshell, the term refers to a retailer’s ability to sell out-of-stock or non-stocked items to customers while they are in-store and have the item shipped directly to the customer’s home.
At iQmetrix, we refer to “Endless Aisle” as the interactive touchscreen showcasing the endless inventory options and “Dropship” as the integration allowing the items to be shipped to customers directly from your accessory vendors.
By integrating your POS with your warehouse inventory or third-party vendors, you can easily achieve an endless aisle. The POS should be equipped to capture customer shipping details, preferred shipping method, and transact in-store and non-stocked items all on one, easy transaction. When integrated, the POS can then notify the warehouse or third-party of the order details automatically so items can then be picked, packed and shipped directly to the customer’s preferred location.
Step 3: Ship From Store
“Ship from Store” is the ability for your customers to buy a product online or from another location. Rather than the purchase getting directly fulfilled from your warehouse or accessory distribution vendor, it gets shipped to a customer from one of your store locations. This ensures you are using existing stock that needs to move, rather than buying additional inventory to meet your customer’s needs.
This can be achieved by integrating your e-commerce site with your inventory management system, ideally your POS, so that availability is shared in real-time. And with a great inventory piece to your POS puzzle, your sales associates can also view inventory at other locations to be purchased and shipped to the customer from the store with inventory.
The trickiest part of this piece of the omnichannel fulfillment puzzle is in-store shipping logistics. Your retail stores will need a way to pack up inventory and it’s likely best to get a great shipping account for items to be picked up and labels provided.
Step 4: Ship Store to Store
“Ship from Store to Store” gives your sales associates the ability to check inventory at your other store locations and request specific items to be shipped to that location for the customer to come back in-store and pickup. Again, this allows you to move existing inventory rather than buying new. It will also prevent your sales associates from having to send customers to other locations to see if they have items in-stock or calling from store to store.
This can be achieved by enabling your sales associates with a POS that allows them to view inventory levels across the company. Again, you will also have to set your retail stores set up with shipping logistics as well as proper processes to receive one-off shipments and contact the customer when their item is available for them to come back in-store for pickup.
Step 5: BORIS
Lastly, we have BORIS or “Buy Online, Return In-Store.” This allows your customers to come back in-store to return or exchange items rather than having to go through the hassle of shipping items back to you. Often times this can be difficult if the SKU never existed in inventory before or there is no record of that sale in-store to be returned.
However, this important step to the omnichannel puzzle can again be achieved with a POS equipped to handle omnichannel scenarios. You can make the decision to allow online orders to be refunded in the POS and SKUS can automatically be created if the item didn’t already exist in in-store inventory. Options could include refunding the item back in-stock so that it can be sold again or refunding the item to a non-sellable status so you can potentially RMA it back to your vendor.
And there you have it! The steps for true omnichannel enablement for you and your customers. The toughest part from here should just be solving the somewhat complex problem of in-store shipping logistics.
Want more information on omnichannel retail? Check out our whitepaper to see why omnichannel solutions are critical for wireless cell phone retailers.
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