Retail – What’s causing tension in your customer experience?

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Get Retail Pro Prism!

Powerful POS & retail management platform for better retail experiences

✓ Replenishment & inventory management

✓ Customer & employee management

✓ Available on iOS, Android, and Windows

✓ For mobile, laptop, and desktop devices

✓ Robust pricing & promotions

✓ Store operations & back office

✓ Performance & KPI reporting

✓ Intuitive, tailorable POS

Visit Retail Pro and our partners at NRF!

Rebuilding customer relationships

Visit Retail Pro at NRF 2023 booth 6203

The retail landscape is challenging, regardless of business success and size. Visit Retail Pro at NRF 2023 to see how you can get total visibility into the operational issues that keep you from rebuilding strong customer relationships.

Rebuild customer relationships

Professional Shopping Assistant Using Digital Tablet Helping Female Client Buy Clothes And Improve Personal Style In Store. Free Space

Improve your relationships with customers with smoother operations and personalized service tailored to their individual needs and shopping habits.

  • Serve customers more effectively with operational efficiency and flexibility to use your whole business to its full extent – merging inventory visibility across store, branches and channels
  • Gain visibility, and in turn insight to their desires: track responses to promotions, price points that capitalize on value, and pinpoint trends across the business
  • Improve the personal connection by staying in touch using your choice of marketing tools that best help your business, and reducing the strain that comes with human error

Streamline for operational efficiency and better experiences

When you connect all your retail technologies to the Retail Pro Prism platform, you get more accurate insight into operations to help you streamline across stores and regions and better serve your customers.

  • Reduce friction in purchase experiences with the ability to see current or potential bottlenecks
  • Identify areas where automated functions can increase efficiency and reduce human error
  • Strategize and uncover alternative options or ways to re-direct a process
  • Determine customer-facing associate strengths and weaknesses
  • Gain clarity on areas for improvement and staff’s best place in your company
  • Set parameters for inventory functions on a store-by-store basis
  • Automate replenishment and distribute inventory to needed locations with allocation tools

Integration between Retail Pro Prism and our ecommerce platform enables us to ensure inventory updates and smooth order flow across the organization. With Retail Pro, it is easy to keep track of inventory and display online whether an item is out of stock or ready to be picked up, resulting in less frazzled associates and happier customers.

Pawan Dangol, Area Manager

Grow your presence internationally with ease

Retailers learned a lot during COVID about what works for your customers. Apply these insights to grow your presence across borders and make it easier for customers to shop with you wherever they are.

  • Leverage Retail Pro resources like region-specific fiscalizations and localizations and local technological professionals with regional expertise
  • Gain total performance visibility across stores, channels and subsidiaries
  • Spot trends from a wider perspective with the whole data picture in one unified view

As you grow, you need clear visibility on all parts of the business and we want to ensure we’re not letting down one side of the business at the expense of the other – to be successful we have to develop the online and offline experience simultaneously, which we’re trying to do. We are hopeful and confident that Retail Pro will be able to support us on this journey.

Miniso UK

Visit us at NRF 2023

Heading out to NRF this January? Visit the Retail Pro team at booth 6203 to start the conversation on how you can start using the Retail Pro Prism POS and retail management platform this year to gain the insight and efficiency you need for rebuild customer relationships.

4 Important Ways the Retailer-Vendor Relationship has Changed

Asian woman shop owner - young Asian woman store owner carrying shoe boxes at store

The last two years have seen dramatic changes in the retailer-vendor relationship. Supply chain shortages caused by the pandemic are still reverberating throughout retail operations.

While the online channel unsurprisingly grew in response to imposed lockdowns, the less-popular hybrid shopping model known as “click and collect,” also gained tremendous momentum.

Retail Pro’s customer ACFC was able to make BOPIS a reality early on in the pandemic thanks to Prism’s data integration and total inventory visibility.

And, although shopping has returned to pre-COVID routines, supply chain issues remain. Here are some ways retailers are handling post-pandemic challenges.

The Product Journey to the Customer

delivery man holding box up as person receiving it signs an ipad

Dropship is more popular. Published statistics show that the global dropshipping market is forecast to reach $196.78 billion in 2022, a substantial increase of  23.7 percent from 2021.

That number is expected to continue to rise, reaching $243.42 billion next year.

The uptick in retailers needing to fulfill online orders during the past two years is a big reason for the dropship surge.

Retail Pro’s ability to streamline inventory visibility across all channels and give retailers a single view makes it easier for them to reduce the margin of error in fulfilling online orders.

Retailers Expanding Retailer-Vendor Relationship

Female Inventory Manager shows digital tablet Information to a male worker holding cardboard box, explaining how their retailer-vendor relationships work

Retailers have expanded their footprint to include marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, as well as social platforms including Tik Tok and Instagram.

Miniso’s UK branch was able to experiment easily with selling on Amazon in the face of tough challenges brought on by COVID with Retail Pro Prism, opening their understanding of future operations possibilities

In fact, TikTok has been experimenting with shoppable ads and shoppable livestreams indicate its readiness to compete for retailers’ attention with Instagram and Facebook.

That has boosted brand awareness not only for the retailer, but also for the supplier. As product demand increases, however, shortages sometimes occur.

Expanding selection through third-party relationships. Some large retailers, notably Lands End, Hudson’s Bay and Anthropologie have begun their own marketplaces.  

Those retailers feature channels on their websites that allow select third-party brands to sell products directly to their customers. It increases selection while letting the retailer avoid increasing the number of vendor relationships they must manage.

Automation of Operations

A female Asian retailer looking over her store's automated inventory across channels

Increasing workflow automation. Reducing or eliminating the manual creation of reports regarding orders, stock levels, and sales trends, and automating that process can accelerate the receipt of information regarding potential stock shortages.

That is particularly helpful when earmarking stock for in-store purchases; for ecommerce order fulfillment and for pickup by click and collect customers.

Automation reduces errors and makes data collection more efficient. Retailer Saleem Fabrics was able to automate their inventory to lessen challenges brought on during COVID with the help of their Retail Pro Business Partners at System Plus and Retail Pro’s software plugin capabilities.

The best supplier-buyer relationships require collaboration. Retailers and their suppliers must be committed to the long-term pursuit of value.

Working with Retail Pro and our partners means a retailer has engaged support and help to take any steps necessary for the sorts of modernizing changes in operations mentioned above.

Together, retailers and their partners are employing innovative solutions to offer joint opportunities to create and retain significant value.

Retailers turn to expanding physical footprint post-COVID with regional support from Retail Pro Business Partners

Retail Executive group talking strategy to expand as covid risk and restrictions decrease

After two years of isolation, customers are ready to visit retailers, and stores are more than ready to greet them as they look to expand operations.

Anticipating pent-up demand, retailers are looking at not just beefing up their square footage but also global expansion to meet customers’ demands for exceptional selection and outstanding experience.

The recent past has been tough on retailers: COVID magnified existing weaknesses, accelerated emerging trends of increased online shopping, and forced organizations to adopt new technology faster than they had anticipated.

Approximately 40 million workers were furloughed or laid off as demand dipped and factories and offices were closed to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Deloitte

Additionally, people stopped traveling and leaving their homes to shop: Business Insider reported an 82.6% year-over-year foot traffic plunge for the week ending April 18, 2020. E-commerce took hold as brick and mortars complied with government mandates to close.

Retailers that had entertained physical expansion plans in 2020 quickly course corrected and invested in online sales platforms to try to make up lost revenue. That strategy – which included click and collect and curbside pickup — helped many physical locations remain in business.

As the pandemic waned and retailers reopened, they started streamlining operations to ensure that their physical stores were in sync with their online systems, which had become more robust during the last 24 months.  

Retail Pro Prism’s omnichannel retail management platform gives retailers the tools to monitor their inventory across channels, keeping in-store and online records in sync. The operations were often merged into a hybrid store/warehouse, in which online orders could be fulfilled by the stores’ brick and mortar locations.

Strategies to expand revisited

A group of retail management/operations professionals brainstorm and strategize new ways to expand after covid

With those new logistics in place, retailers are once again considering and moving ahead with physical expansion. But, for the largest, most well-known names, creating more big stores isn’t in the game plan.

Instead, smaller, more boutique-type stores that focus on the customer experience is the winning strategy.

Take Nordstrom’s, which even prior to the pandemic offered curbside pickup and has continued to strengthen its integration between online and offline channels.

Nearly five years ago, Nordstrom Local launched. The stores are roughly 3,000 square feet and do not carry dedicated inventory, but instead are focused on service: Amenities include complimentary personal stylists, eCommerce order pickup, returns, alterations, gift wrapping and complimentary refreshments.

Betting that less space could pay off more was a good gamble: On average, a Nordstrom Local customer spends 2.5 times the amount of a regular Nordstrom customer. 

The retailer sees the locals as a way to complement their existing larger stores, and cater to customers more conveniently.

Post COVID, many shoppers are looking for convenience, particularly when at brick and mortars.

The fundamental reasons for shopping in person haven’t changed: They enjoy social interaction and they want to interact with products before purchasing.

However, shoppers may now be a bit more exacting in what they expect from retailers’ service.

Businesses looking to expand their physical footprint must be certain that their existing software can handle the new load.

POS software, in particular, must be scalable in order for the business to remain efficient.

Retail Pro Prism is a scalable, comprehensive software package that can be cloud-based and offers remote support — ideal for an expanding company.

For example, Miniso UK currently has seven stores and has plans to grow its business with Retail Pro Prism to 50 stores in five years.  “As you grow, you need clear visibility on all parts of the business and we want to ensure we’re not letting down one side of the business at the expense of the other,” said Miniso UK’s Chief Operating Officer, Saad Usman. “To be successful, we have to develop the online and offline experience simultaneously, which we’re trying to do.”

Growth Requires Local Support

Woman wearing headset, supporting retailer in their region on their mission to expand

Once software requirements have been established, retailers should consider their support options. Having local IT partners can help ease concerns and create an atmosphere of camaraderie.

Retail Pro has a Global network of local IT support partners in 130 countries, helping their clients with implementations, integration of retail solutions including loyalty, ERP, ecommerce etc.

Local partners also know the region better than anyone, so they can assist with localization of the software for language and branding, and are familiar with legal requirements, such as fiscalization (fiscal law aimed at preventing retailer fraud) as well as tax reporting.

Retail Pro is compliant with regional fiscal and tax requirements such as VAT used in many regions globally, India’s GST, Canada’s GST/HST and Brazil’s ICMS, and various tax zones.

In addition, any software that a growing retailer selects should be “expansion-friendly.”

Retail Pro’s robust API provides centralized flexibility that adapts to local regulation variations, allowing retailers to customize their retail POS systems to specific regional requirements.

For more than 30 years, Retail Pro has provided a base platform and API that supports regional requirements, which are specific to a retail management system and point of sale.

From the UX –where local language support is key– to the more complex needs of taxation and reporting requirements, localization has and continues to be part of Retail Pro’s DNA.

Globally, language can also be a business barrier. Because all languages have a vernacular, idioms and regional “quirks,” Retail Pro has a fully translatable user interface, so translations can be tailored toward local dialects for a given region, specific business or vertical type.

Finally, partnering with the right IT solution provider is critical for retailers’ success domestically and abroad – and the right fit can help both companies grow, especially if they operate with similar values. 

Authorized partners are not only trusted technology advisors, but they are also serving as IT project managers for store launches in different regions of the same country as well as coordinating store launches in new countries.

Establishing mutually-beneficial goals motivates all parties. Post-COVID, analysts expect the global retail market to reach $39,933.3 billion in 2030, up from nearly $20,331.1 billion in 2020. Retail implementation of regionally-savvy software and partnerships with local solution providers will be crucial for success.

The Benefits of Consolidating Point of Sale Data

black woman at a dashboard analyzing data consolidating

When a retailer collects information about its customers, the data reveals important statistics, such as what’s popular, the timing of purchases, who’s buying (demographics), and how customers are shopping, i.e., online or in-store.

But the real “secret sauce” comes in the consolidation of data to get one holistic view of the business. 

Data consolidation combines information from different sources into one. Retailers are compiling and analyzing transactions to better inform their product mix and promotions.

Such businesses can more easily obtain a 360-degree view of their customers and avoid data silos, which can lead to inefficient decision-making.

Retail management platforms such as Retail Pro Prism, integrate seamlessly with other retail software in use – like ERP systems, loyalty, analytics, emerging technologies and other solutions – to provide a 360-degree customer view, which allows retailers to make effective use of big data, improve shoppers’ experiences and even predict trends.

Automated Data Consolidating and Decision Making

man wearing button up shirt standing in front of sophisticated large computer manipulating settings, assessing data consolidation

A larger retailer can generate tons of data every day, which makes governance complicated and time-consuming. 

Automated data consolidation extracts the data from each source in real-time, transforms it into a consistent-format joint data-set, and loads it into a database. That database can then be used for analytics, monitoring, controlling, evaluating business practices, extracting information, etc.

Data analytics are the next most important step for retailers to get the most out of consolidated data. Retail Pro Decisions converges all your disparate databases, software tools, and other data sources and gives you a visual layouts and feedback you can tailor to your goals.

Consolidating data provides retailers with more control over their data.

The strategy also avoids or eliminates data silos, which helps prevent duplication, errors, and outliers, so data quality improves.

Retail executives can trust the data to make critical decisions that help to inform planning and risk management.

Better Decisions

blonde woman in light grey blazer and light blue button up opening hands with little pictures of customers appearing between above a tablet on the table in front of her. Data consolidation

Retailers can use consolidated data to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions. For example, by including e-commerce sales data with that of in-store purchases, retailers can get an understanding of omnichannel customer spending and compare it against brick-and-mortar shoppers.

That’s powerful marketing information; considering research shows that omnichannel customers are more profitable. So, promoting in-store shopping to online customers – and vice versa — could pay off handsomely.

In addition to influencing marketing and sales strategy, data consolidation can drive product roadmaps as well as optimize human and capital assets. 

Omnichannel shoppers are engaged and loyal, according to industry research. A recent study reported that customers who purchase across channels tend to purchase more often and spend up to 20 percent more compared with shoppers who buy only in-store.

With OptCulture for Retail Pro, you can understand the data behind both online and in-store transactions, and reach customers wherever they are engaging at the time, whether through a mobile app, text messages, push notifications, emails or digital receipts.

Loyalty and Data Consolidation

Man selecting an icon of a person on a map of the world on a touch screen, connected to a network of person icons, loyalty and data consolidation

Loyalty programs should be structured to ensure all shoppers benefit equally but should provide incentives to purchase across channels.

The emphasis should be on driving repeat purchases to build long-term engagement, with an emphasis on the ease of cross-channel purchasing.

Data consolidation can help identify which customers are in loyalty programs and who would benefit most from enrollment, point redemption details, and what types of promotions are best suited for the most loyal customers.

By consolidating data, retailers can enhance operations and improve their responsiveness to customers.

Streamlining that information provides a clear, complete view of the customer, which can enhance flexibility, improve inventory, promote loyalty and boost sales.

The Opportunities in Your Data

Modern graphic interface shows massive information of business sale report, profit chart and customer data analysis on screen monitor.

You’ve collected and stored all that information. Now it’s time to use it.

One of the great advantages of having an online store is the customer data that can be generated.

In addition to demographics, online reporting can provide insights regarding seasonality, product trends, and customer behavior.

Data Analytics are important and should be applied to every aspect of business to get the most out of the data you collect. Retail Pro collects data from your POS and unifies it with your online data in one view for a complete picture. Customer analytics takes the transactional data collected and crunches those numbers to help make sales, marketing, and product development decisions.

But while many e-commerce retailers use that information to improve customer experience, ironically, online sales data can also be used to help determine where physical stores would thrive.  

Retailers are discovering opportunities to open brick and mortar stores in new markets based on data gathered during the past two years of focus on e-commerce.

Customer profiles informing locations

store associate helping customer with data collected

Sales reports are chockful of information about markets that have driven online sales, which hints at the possibility of opening physical stores in those locations.

Online retailers use sales data to assess their performance and predict future trends, as well as understand their customers.

Because of their familiarity with data analytics, using customer data for real estate site selection is unsurprising.  Familiar retail brands, including Madison Reed, UntuckIt, and Casper are following the lead of retailers such as Warby Parker and Amazon and opening physical locations.

But there’s more to this science than mapping sites to areas with the most customers. Retailers also need lifestyle information, which is easily determined by their purchase histories.

Once the best customers are identified, businesses can use those profiles to identify where similar consumers live and shop.

The value of each potential customer can be determined for any potential store location.

Creating separate customer profiles for your online and brick-and-mortar customers helps to identify differences in the types of customers each channel attracts. In addition, it will also help determine how many customers in a potential location are likely to shop online versus in-store.

OptCulture for Retail Pro gives you omnichannel abilities in your marketing operations so you can understand the data behind both online and in-store transactions. It also gives you the ability to reach customers wherever their preferred touchpoint is: mobile app, text messages, push notifications, emails or digital receipts.

Future of brick & mortar in omnichannel landscape

store worker loading open trunk with curbside pickup order

Pre-pandemic, retailers were focused on improving eCommerce.

Those ahead of the curve and with physical stores were enhancing their buy online, pickup in-store (“BOPIS”) offerings. Few offered curbside pickup.

Fast forward two years and every retailer – from Main Street USA to the global conglomerates — have changed the way they do business to reduce customer friction.

Omnichannel operations are now necessary to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape, and Retail Pro Prism makes it easy to achieve and customize the way your business does omnichannel.

Today’s retailers are focused on gathering and analyzing customer data to offer products and services customers want, whether that’s online, in a convenient nearby physical location, or using a combination of both.

Curbside pickup has become an extremely popular method that is unlikely to disappear, and Retail Pro has mobile POS options available on Windows, Apple and Android devices that make it even easier to provide flexibility to shoppers.

In so doing, they’ve blurred the lines between where online retail stops and where in-person shopping begins.

The journeys have converged, and brick and mortar stores have arisen like a Phoenix to become an attractive growth channel.

Get the Omnichannel Word Out to Customers

beautiful light skinned black woman with happy look holds smartphone and credit card, shopping online ecommerce omnichannel

Shoppers that use all your retail channels are your most valuable.

The past two years of lockdowns, social distancing, and other restrictions put a damper on in-store shopping.

Even the most exclusive boutiques began offering curbside pickup fueled by fledgling attempts at e-commerce. Larger retailers augmented their omnichannel offerings and promoted their increasingly frictionless experiences.

Retail Pro Prism facilitates seamless omnichannel operations with a complete view of data from both online and in-store in one place.

Now, as the economy opens up, retailers of any size are looking for the best of both worlds: Online customers who shop in-store. In other words, omnichannel customers.

And so, they continue to innovate on e-commerce strategies while attracting customers back into brick and mortar stores.

Rocky times for stores

black woman on the couch smiling looking at her laptop shopping online ecommerce

The pandemic created an online shopping surge but was difficult for physical stores to navigate.

According to reports, in 2020, more than 8,300 US stores closed, but the following year, that number was down to 5,079. And, according to NBC News, 2021 saw 5,083 stores open.

The challenge lies in being able to connect the dots between the online customers that retailers cultivated during the past two years and their in-store purchases.

Studies have shown that omnichannel shoppers tend to spend more than those who use one channel exclusively, such as online-only customers.

Those who, for example, use an app to browse products, bought online and picked up in-store, or bought in the store and got their purchases shipped are higher-value customers.

While the behavior spans all demographics, it is especially prominent with Millennials and Gen Z.

Promoting omnichannel behavior

couple holding shopping bags in a mall smiling looking at woman's smartphone

Online customers are a treasure trove of information: Data analytics can provide insights on not only the products they’ve bought but also on what they’ve looked at and put into (and removed from) their baskets.

Retail Pro Decisions compiles data across channels, compiles and analyzes it all for you and displays the findings visually, allowing retailers to easily understand specifics of employees and product performance.

Taking that information and using it to tailor an in-person experience is what differentiates an average in-store experience from an extraordinary one.

Most people actually prefer shopping in-store, according to PwC research. The study found 65 percent of consumers shop in-store to avoid delivery fees, while more than 60 percent enjoy the immediate gratification of in-store shopping. Further, 61 percent said they like trying on the item or seeing it in person before buying it.

Great experiences start with seamless processes. For example, customers appreciate the ability to look up in-store product availability online. To incent online shoppers to visit a store for pickup, make it worth their while by offering a discount or special offer.

Use Analytics

white retailer lady looking at the customer dashboard analytics in Retail Pro POS, making notes

Analytics can enable businesses to target a customer with the appropriate marketing message at just the right time, according to where he or she is in the buyer’s journey.

Such targeted campaigns have higher conversion rates than generic campaigns.

Predictive analytics can further help identify trends in consumer behavior, ensuring that retailers with omnichannel strategies remain skilled at understanding and responding to their customers’ needs.  

A customer’s journey through online and physical channels must be accurately analyzed and captured to deliver a more personalized shopping experience.

Retailers can also provide a consistently personalized ‘VIP’ experience to each customer with automated marketing with the option for custom dynamic promotions, such as Opt Culture for Retail Pro.

Building Omnichannel across borders with Retail Pro Prism

white businessman and woman shaking hands, making a deal with two black businessmen to work together on building omnichannel across borders in their company

Building omnichannel operations for multinational companies requires integrated technology designed for business agility. With the right set of tools, retailers can build their brands across geographic borders and still provide a consistent customer experience.

A successful project must nurture continuous experimentation and collaboration among all partners in the supply chain.

Managing the marketing, planning, and omnichannel operations for dozens, hundreds or even thousands of brands across many countries with numerous points of sale in Asia, South America or Europe is a huge challenge.

Collaboration and experimentation are needed to meet consumers’ rapidly evolving expectations and provide feedback to brand partners on local market preferences and upcoming trends.

Having functioning contacts and support systems in the region that a retailer is expanding to from the beginning makes such expansion much easier. Retail Pro has an expansive network of business partners who provide support in the initial implementation, and in any changes or hiccups throughout their operations.

Omnichannel POS and the customer experience

a blonde sales associate concerned with customer experience helps a woman shopping for makeup using per personalized data on her customer profile

Omnichannel POS can support insights-driven experimentation.

To deliver connected customer experiences across digital touchpoints and stores, retailers integrate in-store point of sale (POS) systems, mobile POS, and omnichannel systems to their online stores, as well as their CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

That provides real-time visibility into sales down to the SKU level. Sales managers can strategize with customer-facing associates to develop and monitor the success of customized promotions and bundles for each store.

Customers also need to be a part of the feedback loop. They must trust the retailer, and feel that they have support throughout their journey – the item is in stock, ships quickly, can be returned easily if needed.

That trust often involves the customer providing some personal information to the store, in exchange for a more personalized shopping experience.

With an omnichannel POS system, a retailer can integrate their loyalty and rewards programs with data from their POS, making for a smooth transaction experience and more personalized and engaging customer experience, based on their actual purchase history.

A retailer can present a highly targeted experience if the data gathered is extremely focused.

Retail Pro Prism provides this omnichannel capability and customer experience and offers two loyalty programs – AppCard and OptCulture – for retailers to gain deep insight and create custom, individualized loyalty strategies.

E-commerce capabilities help retailers adapt to local markets as well.

The benefits gained by e-commerce apply to branded ecommerce sites as well as having a presence on online marketplaces such as Lazada, Little red Book, TMall, and Tokopedia.

Multinational omnichannel retailers choose robust software solutions to support its branded ecommerce platforms as well as middleware solutions to integrate systems with ecommerce marketplaces. That provides a solid foundation that lets e-commerce teams work seamlessly and efficiently across brands and marketplaces.

Retail Pro’s accessible API and extensive list of plugins and integrations in the Retail Pro App Market make it easy to integrate data from the POS, inventory and ecommerce.

Automating analytics and marketing in omnichannel

black retail businesswoman building omnichannel looks at POS data analytics

Standardized and automated back-end systems further boost efficiency.

Omnichannel warehouse and logistics managers automate their processes, from picking and packing, to shipping and final delivery.

A warehouse management system can further help by integrating enterprise resource planning, merchandising, and supply chain solutions.

Finally, business intelligence tools are deployed to deliver relevant insights across the entire enterprise.

BI can quickly generate insights by tracking clearly identified business and customer outcomes and analysts turn them into actions. For example, cross-analyzed data feeds coming from ecommerce marketplaces and social media can help identify small signals in certain product categories.

Retailers using Retail Pro can have access to several tools to help them in analyzing shopper and transaction data, such as Retail Pro Decisions – visual analytics software – and pre-designed reports in Retail Pro Reports. Retailers can use filters to focus on different aspects of their operations, and segments to investigate further on one period

Overall, the retailer is the “face” of the brands they represent, in every country. No matter how disparate the customers are from one location to the next, the retailer ultimately must use all the tools at its disposal to appeal to all, while maintaining a cohesive branding strategy.

Retailers personalize customer journeys by brand to connect with consumers. And brand promises must be aligned with in-market customer experiences, whether that’s online or in-store.

A loyalty program such as OptCulture for Retail Pro that centralizes sales data from customers in-store and ecommerce and gives you multiple avenues to reinforce their experience of your brand and offer automated, personalized marketing.

Let’s Talk About Omnichannel Returns

Female Inventory Manager Shows Digital Tablet Information to a Worker Holding Cardboard Box. In the Background Stock of Parcels with Products Ready for Shipment.

The customer journey may always start with shopping, but it doesn’t necessarily end on a happily-ever-after note. Sometimes, the item just doesn’t meet expectations and the customer makes a return.

The return rate for the retail industry in the U.S. and Canada averages 8% of total sales, according to retail analytics firm The Retail Equation.

Returns are a “reverse logistics problem,” but also a fact of life for retailers, which cost time and money.

Because of that, it seems counter-intuitive to invest in improving the returns process — but it’s absolutely imperative. Having a good returns experience can help retain customers, and gaining a reputation for it can actually attract new shoppers.

It’s estimated that between 25 and 50% of online purchases are currently returned, so making the process simple and convenient is vital.

Retail flexibility for returns is a must in the omnichannel: after all, the customer can buy in any number of channels, so returns should have similar options as well.

In having omnichannel capabilities for customers to make returns, retailers can use the return as an opportunity to immediately offset any costs of returns. The retailer can use clienteling through whatever channel the return process is started; suggesting products in line with the general trends of their purchase history.

With a wealth of plugins available, Retailers can customize their omnichannel operations to offer return processes that are convenient for customers and work seamlessly with their retail and inventory management.

Order Management and the channels for returns

Female seller worker online store holding scanner scanning parcel barcode tag packing ecommerce return post shipping box checking online retail store orders in dropshipping delivery service warehouse.

Once a return happens, being able to make that addition to inventory available soon after receipt increases the opportunity of achieving a full-price sale.

An order management system can provide instant visibility of returning goods, regardless of how they are being returned — to a store, through a courier service or directly to a warehouse.

In addition, having visibility of these items available allows the order management system to develop fulfillment decisions on how and where items should be sold to maximize profits. 

A survey from Inmar found that most shoppers want to return in-store, largely due to the hassle of packing up a return.

Brick and mortars can benefit by enabling in-store returns of online purchases, as that drives store traffic and provides an opportunity to immediately recapture shoppers’ initial expenditures. Approximately 30% of Inmar survey participants said they “usually” or “always” stay in the store and shop with their refund money. 

AppCard for Retail Pro provides a retailer with great tools for building personas for retailers various clients and personalize recommendations for them.

The future of returns and making them easy

A shopper holds up a new dress to decide whether to return it or not.

Some e-commerce retailers such as Amazon make the return experience easy by requiring little to no packaging by the customer, allowing returns in different store locations, including return shipping labels in deliveries, as well as a QR code that can be used at a predetermined courier, which also increases efficiency for the retailer

Returns are an important element of a new online sales cycle: Increasingly, shoppers are employing a “buy and try” approach and they expect sellers to cooperate.

Research has found that much of the returns growth is due to shoppers purchasing more than one of the same or similar products with the intention of keeping one and returning the others.

Retailers must recognize the changing role of returns, understand that they will likely increase rather than decrease due to this new customer mindset, and optimize their processes to adapt and maximize customer satisfaction.

How are you streamlining your omnichannel store experiences? Let's talk.
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Scaling Omnichannel Operations for Connected Experiences with Retail Pro Prism

Woman shopping on her phone in front of the same storefront which has omnichannel operations

Customers love retailers with omnichannel strategies. Shopping is on their terms: They can choose the time, the location and – if they change their minds – the way to make the return.

No longer are the channels online stores and brick and mortars; today, a brand can also sell products through pop up storefronts as well as Instagram and Snap Chat.

It’s all about connecting with customers at their convenience.

When retailers give customers the flexibility to choose the way they shop, they are also able to connect and provide personalized promotions and timely recommendations. OptCulture for Retail Pro opens up the ability to create personalized promotions and loyalty programs by unifying customer data across channels.

With so many points of engagement between customers and brands, scaling operations is challenging.

Today’s shoppers don’t consider brick and mortar and online stores separate shopping destinations. Instead, they expect unified experiences across every touch point. Retail Pro Prism makes it possible to offer this convenient, omnichannel buying experience.

Order Management and flexible fulfilment

a woman picks up an order from an omnichannel store with omnichannel operations

Order Management is critical for a holistic commerce strategy. It connects omnichannel demand to omnichannel supply.

Buyers have insight into inventory across all sales channels, accurately and in real time.

Retail store associates, dropshippers, warehouses, distribution centers and third-party fulfillment providers use commerce technology to fill and deliver orders efficiently.

A system that has communication between each channel and allows seamless management of inventory and stock replenishment to take place is important for providing omnichannel and minimizing strain on your supply chain and operations.

Determining the best fulfillment options means finding solutions that shorten the distance to the customer, increase delivery speed, and reduce costs.

The omnichannel model emphasizes shipping from decentralized inventory sources, such as ship-from-store, buy online pick-up in-store, ship from a partner, or drop-ship from a manufacturer.

Making the right decision improves customer service, because delivery is quick, accurate and cost-effective. Ensuring the ‘last mile’ is optimized by collecting the data in a centralized visual analytics tool saves you money, time, and frustrated customers.

In a warehouse fulfillment model, orders are picked using a variety of methods, including discrete, zone, or wave picking or any combination.

Filling orders from a store limits the type of picking that can be done and retailers often use discrete picking and fill one order at a time. The benefit to in-store picking, however, is the proximity to the customer, who may opt for curbside pickup, eliminating shipping charges.

Curbside pickup has its advantages for shoppers in a rush but for retailers, enticing customers inside to make additional purchases has bottom-line benefits.

However, Pick-up-in-store customer personas are different from an online-only or in-store-only customer personas: They want immediate gratification — they can’t or won’t wait for shipping. 

This is a demanding group that generally has little tolerance for friction during pickup. Therefore, clear, precise messaging about when the order will be ready and instructions for pickup are imperative. The pickup process can be made even more streamlined and convenient with Retail Pro Prism mobile POS.

And the pickup purchase process should be quick and easy for customers and employees. Customers’ perceived value of in-store pickup will evaporate if they can find the item on the floor faster.

Inventory management strategies and shipping

asian woman shop owner - young asian woman or shop assistant with shoe boxes at store

Shipping from the store can get customers their orders delivered more quickly. But other times, the warehouse is closer to the customer.

Having the option to ship from one location or the other is critical for flexibility and to keep customers satisfied.

In-store cycle counting can help by keeping inventory counts up to date and confirmed, so at fulfillment time products are where they are expected to be.

When they aren’t, sometimes items have simply been misplaced: an RFID system can help locate them very quickly. With RIOT RFID for Retail Pro, retailers can locate items out of the line of sight and complete inventory counts in a matter of minutes at an affordable price.

Customers have high expectations of how their shopping experiences should unfold, and retailers have a full plate managing and fulfilling orders while recognizing the unique characteristics of every consumer.

What delights one customer may not work for another. Retailers must be flexible and willing to implement customer feedback to create an efficient, intuitive customer experience that, ultimately, is profitable.

Retail Pro Prism POS gives you the flexibility and customization needed to connect your physical and digital store experience: offer customers fulfillment options, empower associates to order specific products from another store, discover shopper insights, and more.