Omnichannel Retailing: Are You In Or Out?
On the weekend, it struck me. Retailers, you have to make a decision on omnichannel retailing. Are you in or are you out? What is very frustrating for a customer is finding a retailer that has not made up it’s mind. Prior to this weekend, I did not even realize that there was an ‘undecided’ or ‘partially-in’ category of omnichannel retailing. If you did not realize it either, there is. Regrettably, this is NOT a good thing.
Laptop Connector My weekend journey included looking for a connector to hook up two monitors to my laptop. Having set up the two monitors, I was ready to go. I was so very excited (yes, I am a computer nerd). To hook this up, I needed a specialized connector - specifically, a thunderbolt 3 to dual HDMI connector. Well to be quite honest, in the computing world, this connector is not THAT specialized, nor should it be particularly rare. However, it seemed trickier to find than I initially expected. Like most shoppers I started off by doing an online search. I found a couple of different options that would make sense. There were variations in boxes, sizes, and some colors.
Here's How It Goes Amazon, being the largest online retailer, shows me a variety of products. I chose one. However, not being an Amazon enthusiast and wanting to support other omnichannel retailers, I decided to source my product elsewhere. Having to run errands, anyway, I dropped into a few retailers. My local computer chain, the Staples and Walmart near my home did not have the connectors in stock. Although the associates were helpful, they did not offer to look the product up from another store for a ship-to-store option. I did not think to push them about it either. Having returned home and being an omnichannel retailing devotee seeking a healthy priced item, I checked a few online sites for the item. I checked two places - one being a computer chain supplier, and the second being an office equipment retailer. In the case of the computer retail chain, ironically, they had not invested in a good retail technology system - like an order management system. There was no inventory visibility, nor an option to pickup an order in-store. Calling the nearby store, they confirmed they did not have the item I wanted, and did not offer to find it elsewhere. Sale lost.
One Down, One More To Go… Two monitors sitting on my desk, beckoning me to connect them. Their cries, led me to try another option. Now, I tried the office equipment supplier. Not wanting to go to a physical store to be disappointed with the lack of inventory in my product, I tried online again. The office equipment supplier had a nice website. They offered click and collect services. They even provided me with stock visibility, showing me that no nearby locations had the merchandise. But, no problem. I was not dissuaded. I would submit the order, and ring it up for a pickup within a few hours. If it were a good experience, I might even write a blog post about the convenience, ease, and certainty of an in-store pickup! With blog posts dancing in my head, I proceeded to the checkout. The system gave me the option of purchasing online and picking up the products in-store. I selected the click and collect option. However, a big sign popped up telling me that none of the products I chose were eligible for a pickup. Frankly, this completely perplexes me! The total basket value worked out to about $156. Not bad. This online purchase would lock in the sale. Yet, even though the merchant offered click and collect for ‘all’ of it’s products, it flagged this one as a direct shipment product only. Had the merchant offered a quick delivery time, I might have accepted. Here too, the shipping offer was between 3 to 10 days. Wow. What a massive disappointment.
Omnichannel Consistency Counts In retail you wouldn't set up a retail chain with stores all over a town, city, state, province, or country and then be selective about items you will sell to credit card holders, debit card holders, and cash paying customers. Additionally, shoppers’ expectations are that retailers may not accept one form of payment or another, but expect that it is consistent throughout the stores. Imagine purchasing a formal shirt, undershirt and socks, and having to pay cash for the socks, debit only for the undershirt, and credit card for the formal shirt. Like the example of consistency in payments, retailers need to be consistent with rolling out an omnichannel strategy. The danger of being sporadic, like the example above, is that you both confuse and probably lose the customer. As a result, I did not purchase from this office equipment supplier. Seeing they offered a pickup option, I was excited to get my device right away. I wanted that instant gratification. Even though I am not a millennial, I craved it, and wanted it right away. I convinced myself that I could have the system working by late afternoon, and would test out the dual monitor environment. After that excitement, the option of waiting for possibly 10 days, just killed my enthusiasm. Furthermore, it killed the sale.
Omnichannel Retailing Lesson As a retailer, it is important to have an omnichannel presence to be able to service customers like me. These customers have a need, are fixated on fulfilling that need now, and want instant gratification. Buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) can service that burning need for speed. However, when you deploy your systems, make sure they work in all cases. Otherwise, you could lose that good, blog posting, evangelizing customer. By the way… as I write this - I am still looking for my connector… Author: Charles Dimov is Director of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics. Related: Back to List View