Stores: The Hub of BOPIS and Other Omnichannel Realities
This year’s holiday season saw customers accelerating the move to web-centric shopping. It’s clear that large retail chains are aware of this trend, and are accepting the fast-approaching omnichannel future.
The recent shopping statistics bear this out. As a Forbes article explains, this year’s Cyber Monday spend alone was $10.8 billion—a 15.1 percent increase over last year, and possibly the biggest U.S. online shopping day of all time. Simultaneously, Black Friday weekend physical store visits dropped nearly half from 2019, says Forbes.
Converging Omnichannel Retail Factors
The drivers of the omnichannel trend include customer demand for safety and convenience in a COVID-19 world. Chains are responding in a variety of ways: providing contactless purchases; cutting delivery times to 1-2 days; offering new fulfillment options—such as buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS), or buy online, pick-up in locker (BOPIL); and more.
In some cases, retailers have built up their infrastructure capabilities to deliver goods as locally as possible to customers, wherever and whenever desired. But as our recent blog notes, many retailers don’t have the systems in place to ensure profitable BOPIS or ship-from-store operations.
Traditional Retail Workforce Challenges
And then there is the workforce challenge: omnichannel initiatives require frontline retail workers to adapt to:
- Unfamiliar processes (such as very precise and rapid BOPIL or BOPIS-related workflows) that can include handling pick-and-pack orders at a checkout point. They may also include new types of maintenance and sanitization (depending on the retailer’s location and other store attributes).
- Working different shifts during the day/week to support omnichannel cycles. For instance, customers can purchase online 24/7, and may request nighttime or early morning pickup, particularly if they want to avoid peak shopping hour crowds.
- Potentially adjusting to a new physical layout. If the managers change the retail store layout to accommodate new processes (such as one-way aisles), associates must alter procedures accordingly.
- A new sort of working environment, where there may be minimal-to-no direct customer contact (particularly when associates are engaged in fulfillment/BOPIS practices). On the other hand, customers who opt to shop in-store may require even greater levels of care than before the pandemic.
Solutions to Support Store Fulfillment
These hurdles could slow retail chains as they adapt to new in-store fulfilment practices. And realizing the full potential of the omnichannel trend requires managers to streamline and improve their various workforce-related processes. It also means keeping employees engaged, informed, and positive. But given all the economic and other pressures, there is limited time for an efficient transformation.
Adopting cutting-edge solutions can streamline the transition from pure store-based retailing to leveraging the store as a hub for omnichannel—while boosting employee engagement and productivity and customer satisfaction. Special platforms for solutions, such as task management, store auditing, appointment booking, and workforce scheduling, are essential to enabling omnichannel success.
Ultimately, these technologies will help retailers successfully adapt their omnichannel services to the post-pandemic world. This will enable managers and associates to maintain the consistent experience customers desire, from the web to the store floor to the curbside and beyond.
To learn more how to optimize retail omnichannel operations, contact us at email@example.com and we’ll set up time to chat.