Wishing You A Very Happy Omnichannel Holiday

Omnichannel, omnichannel fulfillment, omnichannel retail, omnichannel operations, ecommerce, retail ecommerce, Amazon, Amazon.comThe omnichannel consumer is putting direct-to-consumer delivery on a collision course with the brick and mortar environment. And the retailers with real-time inventory visibility and order management systems in place will be prepared to serve these consumers this holiday season.

Or will they?

This will be a make-or-break holiday season for buy online pick up in store (and for that matter, ship to store). Last holiday season, many merchants rolled these programs out in a quasi-beta mode. Merchants who are rolling it out for the first time this holiday season need to learn from these pioneers, if they want consumers to embrace ship to store initiatives – and avoid a holiday crowd crisis of a new kind at their retail stores.

A merchant can have the latest and greatest omnichannel technology in place to make buy online pick-up in store and buy online ship to store a one-click reality. But if the merchant’s brick and mortar stores are not capable of closing the omnichannel sale, the merchant going to lose that customer.

An omnichannel strategy is only as good as a merchant’s in-store staffing and training. The store needs to be staffed at proper levels to satisfy the customer who chose this convenient feature. And if store employees are not properly trained to handle buy online pick up in store, and they do not buy into the program, the omnichannel strategy will fail.

At Operations Summit 2015, Macy’s Director of Sore Operations and Strategies Kevin Gardiner said his company grossly underestimated staffing for its “BOPS” volume during holiday 2014, which was 50% to 100% higher than forecast some days.  This year, Macy’s is forecasting three times the store volume.

Also, remember that customers buy online and pick-up in store because of convenience. If you put obstacles in the way of the customer’s path to purchase – like put the pick-up location in a hard to find place, have lines that are too long, or push too hard for an upsell at the pick-up time – you’re going to lose that customer to a retailer who provides a seamless experience.

You know, like when you buy something online and attempt to pick it up at Walmart.

Should digital divisions care?  They sure should – whether they are getting credited with the sale or not – the experience reflects on the ecommerce site where they ordered the merchandise, and the brand as a whole.

Tim Parry is Managing Editor of Multichannel Merchant.

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