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The Ultimate Customer Experience: Balancing Online & In-Store Retail

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The Ultimate Customer Experience: Balancing Online & In-Store Retail

In recent years, retailers have altered to the needs of the consumer. As part of that transition, emphasis was placed on making shopping as convenient as possible for customers. Retailers today have harnessed services such as buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) or buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) to help enable customers to shop however suits them best. 

The convenience of these channels caters to the increasing demands of consumers, who expect information and easy access to items at the click of a button. Yet, brick-and-mortar stores still hold a significant amount of value from an experiential perspective. While convenience is paramount in today’s environment, customers still have a significant amount of appetite for walking into a store and interacting directly with products and in-store associates. Moving forward, the in-store experience of customers will become critical to brand differentiation, while convenience remains preeminent online.

Clicks & Bricks: Balance Between Online and In-Store

In this new era, the challenge for retailers is to understand how they can provide a balanced omnichannel approach combining in-store and online shopping to optimize the customer experience. It has never been more important to provide seamless and convenient online shopping, while also delivering top-quality customer service in-store. With a plethora of alternative retailers only a search away, customers are ready to shop elsewhere if they do not feel that they are receiving the level of personalized service they expect. 

The question remains: how can retailers find this balance? For years now, many have answered that question with the implementation of an omnichannel approach, creating one seamless experience by utilizing all available sales channels. However, retailers are struggling to deploy this strategy effectively. According to SML’s latest State of Retail Insight Report, 93% of retailers claim that technology is important in facilitating a seamless in-store customer experience. Retailers can deploy the latest item-level RFID solutions that provide accurate inventory data in real-time, enabling them to provide a top-tier shopping experience for their customers.

Omnichannel is crucial. However, to execute the strategy effectively, retailers must improve their inventory accuracy and efficiency. Only then can they expect to find the balance between in-store and online.

Leveraging RFID for Smarter Logistics 

Through the use of item-level RFID, retailers can create efficient inventory management that streamlines online shopping channels. The industry standard of inventory accuracy sits approximately at 65%. By deploying item-level RFID, retailers can increase this to 93%-99% in the space of days and that level of accuracy can be maintained consistently, unlike annual physical counts that continue to deteriorate throughout the year until a new count is completed.

Enhanced inventory accuracy provides many benefits as retailers have complete visibility over where their stock is. From warehouse to storefronts, each business has an accurate view of inventory location down to specific items, allowing for improved organization and improved supply chain throughput to maximize the use of all existing inventory. With item-level RFID in place, retailers can create the foundation of a seamless omnichannel experience. An accurate view of inventory enables them to deploy strategies such as BOPIS and BORIS effectively, providing customers with the options and flexibility they demand while optimizing costs.

Crafting Valuable Experiences for Shoppers

In addition to supply chain operations, RFID also allows in-store staff to better serve customers on the shop floor. According to SML’s findings, 42% of retailers state they don’t have enough staff on the shop floor, while 30% agree that staff spends too much time completing mundane tasks. 

Item-level RFID allows staff to scan all in-store stock within minutes, significantly decreasing the amount of time spent trying to manually count inventory. This frees up the time of store associates to better serve customers on the shop floor and the use of dynamic Geiger search capabilities to quickly locate items further improves their overall experience as store staff can efficiently locate on-hand items for customers.

By leveraging the right technology, retailers can remain flexible to ever-changing customer needs. Retail continues to embrace digital. However, the high street is bouncing back as shoppers look to connect directly with store associates to gain product knowledge and experience customer service. Retailers must remain agile through both channels to remain competitive.