Foot Locker has implemented endless aisle and drop ship concepts to pull together their omnichannel efforts. The article covered a lot of interesting trends that we’ve seen popping up all over the retail landscape.
I sat down with Tara Bartlett, iQmetrix’s Director of Marketing, to discuss what lessons can be pulled from Foot Locker and applied to other retailers.
Tara: One of the biggest benefits endless aisle offers retailers is a more efficient use of space. Retail space is expensive and the more retailers can cut down on cost per square foot the better for their bottom line. With endless aisle, retailers can keep more stock in the back of the store, at their warehouse or even with a supplier if they have a virtual inventory program in place.
They no longer have to find a spot on the shelf for all of the inventory they carry, endless aisle quite literally offers a digital extension of shelf space so that the retailer can provide a less cluttered, more pleasant shopping space while still giving consumers more product choices.
When the opportunity to sell that product comes along the retailer doesn’t miss out on that sale.
Another benefit to endless aisle is when a retailer pairs it with a virtual inventory program through suppliers. In this case, the retailer doesn’t carry the risk of carrying the inventory (it’s sitting in the cloud as part of the supplier’s virtual inventory program) however they can still provide the expanded product options to consumers. This works especially well for the unique and specialty items (like the size 13 purple Jordan’s in the Foot Locker example) that the retailer typically wouldn’t carry in stock but that when the opportunity to sell that product comes along the retailer doesn’t miss out on that sale.
Tara: Thanks to Amazon, consumers have become accustomed to fast, convenient and flexible product shipping options as part of the online shopping experience and in response, retailers now want to offer those same options in-store. This helps retailers both compete with online shopping options as well as enhance and complement their own eCommerce experience (for example consumers can reserve products online and pick-up in-store).
Adding ship to store and ship to home options brings the eCommece experience consumers are accustomed to in-store.
Consumers now get the best of both worlds, they can visit a store to touch and try products, have access to product experts while still having the expanded product availability eCommerce offers and flexible ways to get the product.
Bring the online experience in-store by offering interactive touchscreens throughout the store that provide relevant, useful product information that the consumer can use to make an educated purchase decision.
It’s not just the Macy’s, Walmarts and Best Buys of the world that need to be thinking omnichannel and it’s also not just the big guys who can afford it.
Omnichannel is simply about connecting your channels and ensuring consumers can interact with you when and how they want. The trick is to have the right solutions in place and make sure they too are connected. Whether you are working with an ERP or a simple POS, a sophisticated eCommerce platform or a free web template, you just need to ensure that there is a platform that is enabling your solutions to share information.
The smartest omnichannel retailers are integrating back-end and front end processes with centralized commerce platforms to deliver consistent information and a consistent experience.