The menace of ecommerce giants, such as Amazon, has been looming over brick-and-mortar stores for several years now. However, the threat is not as real as brick-and-mortar retailers are led to believe. Amazon capitalized on a functioning business model, and consumers are in love with convenient shopping and fast shipping. However, brick-and-mortar retail is capable of many strategies that the ecommerce industry is desperate to tap into.
Brick-and-mortar retail is dead? Hardly.
Consumers still love to browse in store, explore assorted products, and feel items in their hands before purchasing. The biggest challenge that brick-and-mortar retailers face is being able to maximize the value of the retail location. What can your store offer beyond that which can be purchased online? Consumers demand instant gratification, but what that looks like varies from shopper to shopper, and even moment to moment. Physical stores are an essential piece of an omnichannel strategy, and the ability to offer diverse product choices and delivery preferences will change how retailers do business.
Change the supply chain.
The traditional model ignores the crucial connection between the manufacturer and the retailer. Until recently, retail fulfillment has been a component of purchasing that remains rather independent. However, this reliance on drop-shipping is how consumers are lost. Colors and sizes vary depending on location, and without consolidating distribution channels, mistakes are common. Consumers want to be able to order online and pick up in store, because in-store delivery for certain items may be days faster. Others see items in stores, but an in-store app or kiosk may offer a more desirable color that can be shipped to homes. Fulfillment within brick-and-mortar retail demands collaboration to meet the changing demands of consumers.
Leverage real-time inventory
The most important aspect of retail fulfillment and required collaboration is a real-time inventory. Business associates and consumers should easily be able to track shipped items, as well as notify a customer if an item they are interested in is truly available. Even ecommerce giants have struggled with issues such as requested items on backorder and websites not updated at the time of purchase. This results in frustrated customers and incomplete orders. Over time the overall brand can be damaged. Be mindful of your inventory movement and shipping and invest in a digital infrastructure that will allow your omnichannel strategy to flourish.
The key is to create a seamless and consistent customer experience that not only improves efficiency but also meets demands. The customer experience, not the product, is the most important factor. How you fulfill your promise to the consumer relies on more than just shipping, which is why brick-and-mortar retail is far from dead.