Enhancing the physical retail experience by converging offline and online at the store

etp-blog-endless-aisles-3

In the last year, physical retail has witnessed some of the most challenging situations. While some well-known retail chains filed for bankruptcy, some retail companies shuttered their stores, some retail companies closed down completely, while some others were struggling to keep up with the growing threat from e-commerce sites and this struggle seems likely to continue. Moreover due to a majority of customers owning a smartphone nowadays, the shift towards mobile and online purchasing will only increase.

With e-commerce and m-commerce being literally at their fingertips, shoppers are often looking to do their purchases with ease and with minimal efforts. This is one of the biggest advantage that online has over physical retail. Though brick and mortar stores provide that touch and feel experience to the shopper, this alone is not enough to compete every time with e-commerce. Therefore, physical retailers need to create a unique and awesome experience for customers and one of the most effective ways to do this is converging online and offline experiences at the store itself.

Retail companies like New York & Company have already begun converging online and in-store selling by using self-service kiosks allowing e-commerce access in some select stores. These effectively serve as a complement to the store associates and the traditional checkout area as the kiosks are positioned throughout the store or near the service desk. This provides the shoppers with the choice of self-service by accessing multiple touch-points across the store where they can shop from both the store’s physical and online product offering, make a secure purchase and collect or get their order shipped directly to any address. This expands the retailer’s point of sale capabilities thus giving customers tech options that they intuitively already know how to use as well as makes the shopping process quick and convenient.

For retail companies wanting to create an omni-channel shopping environment, such self-service kiosks or mobile and other handheld devices that allow shoppers to browse and choose products on the online site while they’re already in the store are definitely apt. Adding this omni-channel capability can help retailers prevent a loss of sale situation if an item is out of stock at that particular store, while still allowing the store to get credit for that particular sale.

Having said that, the kind of technology a store should incorporate depends on the type of store, its product offerings and its customers’ tastes and preferences. It can be overwhelming to choose from the wide range of in-store technology for e-commerce available. Retailers need to research which technology to choose, how to incorporate it and accordingly should drill down to what they’re looking to get out of it, and make a smart and well-informed decision before making an investment.

Some of the considerations for incorporating endless aisles in-store technology could be:

Limited space to display inventory, but a large product offering

Having a well-designed online site that can be easily accessed online

Type of hardware depending on the store space – kiosks or handheld devices

Required infrastructure for managing online functionality within the store

The benefits it would provide to the customers, store staff and the business

The best way to start is to proceed with an inside-out approach that retailers can use. Understanding their own business needs and objectives first and then taking inspiration from peers will prove to be a good modus operandi for them to take better decisions. A good omni-channel retail solution with the right capabilities can help retailers attain higher productivity and better customer loyalty.

5 Festive things retailers should do to relish a successful shopping season.

etp-blog-5-festive-tips

It’s time for the festive holiday season once again, and for a retailer, this should only mean one thing: it is time to ramp up the planning and implementation of processes. The festive season is the biggest shopping period of the year, and for many retail businesses, festive shopping can be the opportunity to really boost their sales. It goes without saying that retail owners will do their best to rise to the occasion and add that extra bling to their business. In-order to help retail companies ring in higher festive shopping sales, here are a few simple things that need to be done.

  1. Festive displays – Ensuring the displays, those at the window and in-store, shop layouts, online websites, and mobile apps are aligned with the theme of the festive season, and are attention grabbing, enticing consumers to at least take a look. Once they peek, the merchandising and product displays should be able to hook the shoppers and lure them to take further actions. At the brick-and-mortar store level, elements like lights, signage, and props can be used whereas on e-commerce sites and mobile apps, color theme, banners and images can be used to bring that festive look.
  2. Festive merchandise – Merchandise and products need to have the flavor of the festive season. As such, having limited edition merchandise for the festive season or running attractive offers on certain merchandise exclusively during the festive season is sure to spike interest amongst shoppers. In some cases, even planning and arrangement of merchandise on the shelves with some festive touch can be good enough for consumers to notice.
  3. Festive inventory – To ensure that shoppers are able to get the desired products in their preferred quantities and time-frames that they are looking for as well as to reduce the out of stock situations, retail owners must plan their festive inventories right. Not only that, they should keep a track of the stock turnover and order new inventory accordingly, keeping it ready to replenish stocks without delays. In some cases, it may be advisable to have additional stocks in order to avert no stock situations. Using techniques like ‘endless aisle’, retailers can avert lost sale situations when the inventory is not obtainable at the store.
  4. Festive support – If retailers are expecting shoppers to pour in large numbers especially during peak and rush hours, they need to hire additional staff not only at the store, but also at the call center or online support to handle such situations. This would ensure that adequate number of associates are available to assist customers in such situations. In addition to this, having extra point-of-sale (POS) counters for check-out, using handled/mobile POS devices for billing can help forestall long queues. Also, retail owners should manage their websites and apps well so that they load and update quickly despite heavy traffic. All this will ensure that shoppers experience no lags and reduced wait times warding off situations of cart abandonment.
  5. Festive offers – In the festive season, shoppers look forward most for the umpteen discounts and promotions that retail brands offer. Festive discounts and promotions are a norm now and most of the retailers run various marketing campaigns to attract customers. Thus, it is important for retail businesses to offer more relevant and personalized promotions that will entice shoppers. Using cross-selling and up-selling techniques would further benefit both customers and retailers.

Why managing inventory the right way matters?

ETP-inventory-management

Technology has completely transformed the way people make purchases. From online marketplaces to brick-and-mortar stores, retailers tend to implement innovative measures to better cater to the needs of customers. They incorporate promotion planning, customer analytics, and mobile payments to enhance the shopping experience. But, one thing that forms the backbone of retailing is somehow neglected in the entire retail chain. Yes, we are talking about inventory.

Managing inventory is not just a single task encompassing certain limited activities; it is a process that involves some complex calculations such as sell through rate, inventory turnover ratio, GMROI among others. It is an uphill task to perform the aforementioned calculations, which in turn makes it difficult for retailers to manage their inventory. Retailers require a tool that bridges the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and marketplaces, and provides them with a single, simple, and holistic view of the inventory.

One such powerful tool is ETP Connect – a robust, multifunctional, and comprehensive tool that connects the brick-and-mortar stores with the ecommerce sites and marketplaces. It provides real time updates to the stores and head office of the retailers about the purchases being made both offline and online. Whenever a purchase is made through website or marketplaces, ETP Connect routes the information to the head office, where the designated authority can view the immediate effect on the inventory in real time.

Also, since retailers get access to real time data, it simplifies their task of computing complex inventory calculations, thus enabling them to take timely decisions to further speed up their entire retailing process. The effects of this are manifested in the form of satisfactory customer experiences and a robust bottom line.

ETP Connect is a one stop solution for leading retailers to end their inventory management woes, by enabling them to better plan their business strategies. It also allows retailers to have a unified view of customers, endless aisle, and features such as Click and Collect, and Click and Deliver. Put an end to all your retail woes by implementing a futuristic and powerful ETP Connect and embrace the omni-channel transformation the right way.

Endless Aisles – Harnessing In-Store and Online Shopping

ETP blog Endless Aisle

Endless aisle is allowing customers to make use of technologies such as specially designed in-store kiosks or other intuitive systems to order items that are currently out-of-stock in that particular brick-and-mortar store. It is a concept that extends beyond the inventory that in tangible form is available in the store at a given point in time. Thus, endless aisle allows retailers to forge a strong link between customer demand and inventory. Retail companies that have been quick to embrace cross-channel strategies have already begun adopting the endless aisle technology to boost their sales further.

But what makes endless aisle click? Here are some of the noteworthy benefits:

Retailers can downsize unnecessary floor area of their brick-and-mortar store. This trimming of floor space will therefore result in higher sales per square foot. Implementing endless aisle also helps retail owners counteract in-store revenue bleeding as a result of showrooming. Retail companies can thus capitalize on reduced cost of rentals and optimize the available floor space. Further, retailers can reduce the effort of displaying large products physically at the store with the implementation of endless aisle. Products that have low inventory turnover can thus be removed from the shelves of the store. Endless aisle can help boost conversion rate due to the enhanced shopping feature at the physical store and help improve customer loyalty.

With the advent of endless aisle, the need to depend on warehouses to stock-up merchandise is diminished to a large extent as retailers can enter into tie-ups with manufacturers to ship the ordered products directly to the consumers from the manufacturer’s end.

In-store consumers can enjoy the comfort of e-shopping without compromising on the traditional ‘touch and feel’ factor. Also, real-time visibility of available products at the physical and virtual store empowers the customers to shop on their own terms.

With the help of data processing and analytics, retailers can display only those products that have a high turnover in-store while offering the not-so-popular merchandise through kiosks, tablets or computers so that customers can try and buy at the same time.

As the consumers of today are in the driver’s seat, demanding the best service and setting up high expectations, retailers must opt for investing in the right tools and technology to successfully implement endless aisle in their business thus ensuring that they do not end-up facing the reality of lost sales situations.