The majority of shoppers today have experienced the disappointment of discovering the product they came to a store for is unavailable. Today more than ever, customers expect every screen to be interactive and every product wish to be fulfilled. With iQmetrix Endless Aisle and Dropship, retailers now have the ability to make managing inventory and fulfilling those expectations a whole lot simpler.
At iQmetrix, we’re excited to provide an endless aisle experience to our clients with the help of the partners in our ecosystem. I recently discussed this opportunity with John Lund, President of North American Accessories for Brightstar Corp.
How would you best describe endless aisle?
Endless aisle allows the retailer to truly be a full-service destination which is really exciting. Not only carrying the core items but carrying or virtually stocking thousands of SKUs so you can always say ‘yes’ to a customer. I think the best advantage of endless aisle is your staff, once well trained, should never walk a customer out and point them to the competition. When we do secret shopping, that is often what people will do. So many times they will tell a customer to try Amazon or Best Buy which is not what you want to do to keep that loyal customer coming back over and over again.
Endless aisle allows the retailer to truly be a full-service destination. – John Lund, President of N. American Accessories, Brightstar Corp.
What are retailers most excited for with endless aisle?
I think the ability to make sure they can always say ‘yes’ is certainly one thing. But also, what we’re really excited about in teaming up with iQmetrix and some really cool vendors is allowing our clients the ability to take their product to the next level without having to physically stock the inventory. I’ve had a lot of conversations with clients about the ability to show $200 premium leather cases or high-end wearables or possibly even getting into $500 audio speakers. The customer can still listen to that high-end speaker in-store, but then the retailer can have it shipped directly to the customer. Amazing items can drive hundreds of dollars of margin for a retailer without actually stocking inventory. I think that’s what they are most excited about.
What do you see as the single, biggest benefit of endless aisle?
There are two things – one is the ability to say ‘yes’ to the customer so they get used to coming to your store over and over. I think the benefit of you being a true destination to the customer is huge.
Then really taking advantage of that next level of inventory. Typically most clients would never stock a case that costs $400 and retails for $1,000 but it’s kind of fun to show! What it comes to is retailers can really use their inventory dollars smarter. Teaming them up with all the analytics that we do can help narrow the mix slightly in their stores, keep the highest velocity items in stock, and allows us to introduce some new categories in-store while still having the extended aisle available. So if somebody really wants the pink polka-dot case, they can have it.
“What it comes to is retailers can really use their inventory dollars smarter.” - John
How does it change what the consumer expects from retailers?
I think in some industries it’s already become a given that when you walk into a store and they don’t have the item you’re looking for, they immediately search their other stores. That’s become the norm and something you need to have. It’s not a nice to have – it’s a must have if you’re truly a destination store. The issue that everyone’s got to be concerned with is that not having it might be considered strange pretty soon. When I go to a Macy’s or Nordstrom’s and they don’t have the shirt in my size, they never just walk me out to some other store in the mall. They always go “Hang on, let me go check what we have,” and then they ship it to me at no charge. They’re still taking that sale -- which felt like exceptional customer service at first but now if they don’t do that I look at them kind of odd.
When I go to a Macy’s or Nordstrom’s and they don’t have the shirt in my size, they never just walk me out to some other store in the mall. - John
How do you see sales staff changing their selling habits if at all?
I think with training and understanding, especially when you have some of the high-end stuff and cool stuff in their stores, the excitement level goes up. The ability to say ‘yes’ to every customer is super exciting. What sales people hate the most is saying ‘no’ to a customer so enable them to say ‘yes’ and show off cool product. They might not be able to sell the $200 case every time, but it makes selling the $60 case a whole lot simpler. I think it would be an overall excitement and obviously, if there are some cool displays in their stores, staff get even more excited and it makes for a really neat place to work.
Can you describe the role that Dropship plays in omnichannel?
People have different definitions of omnichannel. One of the concepts is “all the same everywhere you go.” Honestly, I think Dropship is just the stepping stone to the next level of the ability to look like a much bigger place where people can shop. What I mean by bigger is you have the feel of a “Mom & Pop” but the execution of a large retailer, and I think that will bring you into the 21st century.
What are the challenges you see with implementation of endless aisle including Dropship?
The perception of freight charges. Clients often say things like “Oh my gosh, instead of making $20, I’m only making $16 or $15 because of the cost of freight,” and I think we have to get over that hurdle. You aren’t making any money if you say ‘no’ to the customer. With Dropship, you’re making money you wouldn’t have so it should be thought of as a return on investment. The item you were making $20 on, you invested $20 in, but the item you’re making $16 on you invested $0. When you look at pure return on investment, you can see the benefit both ways so we have to really get ourselves understanding it.
You aren’t making any money if you say ‘no’ to the customer. - John
The next level is really getting the sales staff very comfortable with the solution. Making sure it’s part of the daily routine, that they understand it, and that they can place orders on it. I think that’s where training and promotion will come in. We’ll launch a lot of promotion so people use it and get used to it and then I think we’ll see a lot of people continue on.
Any suggestions or advice you could give someone looking to implement endless aisle?
I would say if people are implementing it, make sure it’s part of the expectation and routine and make sure you monitor it. Work on the store managers at first for simplicity – if a store hasn’t had an endless aisle order in a week say, “Hey, we’ve noticed you haven’t had an order in a week in your store, is everyone comfortable with how to use it?” Don’t try to hammer them over the head with something but just say, “We want to make sure you’re maximizing your commissions. Is everyone comfortable with training?” And any weeks that go by without an endless aisle order – bring it up to that store manager. “Are you sure the staff are offering it?” We know people are walking into stores and asking for stuff that’s not in stock. That’s a fact and it’s hard to dispute. If you can say, “Yes, we have it” to everyone, that’s critical.
Also, you can’t have extra fees. The shipping margin is not an issue – it’s all positive margin. 100% of the money collected is 100% positive margin. There are no fees and no cost against it and you collect the cash up front.
If you can say, “Yes, we have it” to everyone, that’s critical. - John
Want to learn more about iQmetrix Endless Aisle or Dropship? Email integratedsolutions@iQmetrix.com
John Lund is the President of North American Accessories for Brightstar Corp. in Omaha, Ne.
John’s vision has always been to have more locations under management than the largest US carrier and he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal with the recent acquisition of OFFWIRE by Brightstar. Brightstar is one of the largest wireless accessory distribution companies in the world that has been successfully delivering products and programs to retailers for over 15 years. OFFWIRE strategically aligned with Brightstar to deliver a new and improved program that will leverage a comprehensive vendor list, unique products and solutions, and advanced data analytics that will help retailers become more efficient and more profitable.