How to Optimize Your Omnichannel Services
Brick-and-mortar stores will always be vital to a retailer’s business. We hear talk of a “retail apocalypse”, of customers going to Amazon and abandoning the shopping practices of old, but the majority of American consumers still want the experience offered by brick-and-mortar stores.
This doesn’t mean, however, that the role of brick-and-mortar stores is the same that it was 20 years ago. It is rapidly changing, with experiential retail, showrooming, and other practices becoming commonplace as retailers adapt to changing customer needs. And all of these practices have one thing in common: offering omnichannel services.
Omnichannel services integrate the in-store retail experience with the parts of the shopper journey that exist outside of the store, such as browsing online, ordering items online, or placing items in your account. They take an approach to customer experience where physical and online shopping channels are melded into a singular real-time retail experience, where elements of both come into play during the shopping journey.
Offering omnichannel services is essential to appeal to today’s mobile-enabled customers. However, without allocating the proper resources, these services can be slow, disorderly, and cumbersome for the customer. Implementing these services requires more than just putting them in place; they have to be optimized so that they’re seamlessly integrated into the customer experience.
Here are 3 quick tips you can use to optimize your omnichannel services so you can provide customers with a real-time retail experience:
1. Invest in Your Store Associates
Connecting store associates to essential retail solutions, either on their own mobile device or on one provided to them, gives them the capability to instantly address customer needs when they arise. They can receive notifications when they have to retrieve an online order that a customer is picking up in the store. They can provide mobile checkout so customers can finish their transactions anywhere in the store. And they can access online inventory, giving customers the opportunity to complete their order even if the product is unavailable in the store.
2. Innovate Store Operations
Customers only want to use omnichannel services if it’s easy to do so. This means that they shouldn’t have to wait too long to pick up their online order in the store, and they shouldn’t have to wait to price match an item at the register. Real-time store operations solutions help simplify these processes, alerting store associates when an online order needs to be fulfilled, and streamlining the price matching process so store managers can approve price matches remotely.
3. Refine Labor Scheduling Processes
Omnichannel services create more work that needs to be accomplished in the store. This means that labor schedules need to align with the store’s task workload. With workforce management solutions, variables such as task workload, customer traffic, and weather patterns can be factored into labor schedules, ensuring that there are enough store associates at the store to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
For more information on how to optimize omnichannel services so you can find success with real-time retail, check out our industry insight guide: “Improving the Shopping Experience with Real-Time Retail.”
I recently spend four great days at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference talking to leaders in grocery retail about what they are seeing in their stores and in the market. They all had unique and compelling stories to tell, but everything pointed towards some specific trends.
Grocery retail continues to undergo significant changes as customers look for exciting and fresh retail experiences. While online grocery shopping is only making small gains, other trends, such as prepared foods, in-store restaurants, cooking and food demonstrations, and healthy food options continue to appeal heavily to newer generations.
Store managers and associates play an important role in all of these trends. They’re the ones that have to ensure that healthy foods and prepared meals are stocked on shelves, and that traffic from in-store restaurants and cooking demos are converted into sales. This is all in addition to the everyday tasks they have to accomplish: setting up promotions, helping customers, and ensuring the store is clean and orderly.
This is a puzzle that grocery retailers have to solve. With all of these new tasks and projects, how do you ensure that your store associates are in the right place at the right time, accomplishing the right things? The key is optimizing your labor scheduling and providing store associates with tools that simplify what they have to do in the store.
Here are 3 strategies you can use to solve your labor vs. workload puzzle:
1. Simplify Work for Store Associates
Work doesn’t just originate from a few sources anymore. It’s coming from a variety of systems and IoT devices, from new initiatives and trends impacting stores, and from new lines of business. It’s incredibly difficult for store associates to keep up with new work coming in from all these different sources, especially when it takes time to figure out what exactly even needs to be done. With a real-time task management solution, store associates can view a prioritized list of tasks that tells them exactly what needs to be accomplished at any time. Whether it’s removing expired foods that were discovered during a store audit, placing up signage for a new food promotion, or opening an additional check-out line during a busy period, real-time task management solutions ensure that store associates can focus on completing what needs to be done in the store.
2. Align Labor Scheduling with Task Workload
If labor schedules don’t account for new grocery initiatives, then store associates will have trouble finding the time to restock prepared foods or convert sales from customers that just watched a cooking demo. By using a retail work platform of task and workforce management solutions, labor budgets, forecasts, and schedules can account for all tasks that need to be completed in the store. This platform also enables you to account for associate roles when creating schedules, so every department—deli, seafood, prepared foods—is appropriately staffed to maximize customer service.
3. Enable Communication from Anywhere
Every second is important when there’s so much that needs to be accomplished in stores. When store associates have to track down their managers for approvals or clarifications on a task, it takes both the associate and manager away from other priorities. With a retail work platform that offers the ability to communicate on mobile devices, store associates can simply send messages and immediately communicate with store managers, district managers, and other staff as needed. This can save millions in labor costs, dramatically cutting down on the time it takes to accomplish critical tasks.
With the Reflexis ONE platform of mobile-first solutions for real-time store operations and workforce management, you can put these strategies into action, optimizing your labor spend and simplifying your store execution.
To learn more about how the Reflexis ONE platform streamlines work in stores, contact me—Grady Barnard, National Account Manager – Retail Grocery, at Grady.Barnard@reflexisinc.com–or read our white paper on how grocery retailers can excel in today’s retail ecosystem, “Retail Operations Strategies to Win Repeat Customers.”