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Are DTC brands coming of age?

DTC brands are beginning to populate traditional retailers of many brands 
Beautiful asian woman holding shopping bag and smiling looking at perfume display in a big box retailer,

Many direct-to-consumer brands are reevaluating how they do business – and leaving the one-to-one intimacy with customers for a more traditional method of getting their products to more customers.

By embracing a wholesale strategy, often in conjunction with DTC methods,  these brands are developing a more robust omnichannel presence. 

An omnichannel presence is crucial to success in retail, as consumers have become used to having plenty of choices and will often choose convenience above most.

Omnichannel stat. Retail Pro Prism provides the capability for omnichannel operations and retail management.

Difficult circumstances for one channel of discovery

Woman sitting in bed, blowing on her mug and looking at a laptop, browsing DTC brands

For example, in February, digitally native beauty brand Glossier announced its partnership with makeup mega-retailer Sephora.

Glossier’s products will be on shelves at 600 Sephora stores across the United States and Canada, as well as online and on the Sephora App.

The brand’s jump to traditional retail came after a trial run with wholesale sales in 2020, when Glossier experimented with its “Glossier You” fragrance that it sold in seven U.S. brick-and-mortar Nordstrom locations.

The shift for Glossier hasn’t been easy; the brand has reorganized, replacing its CEO and laying off employees as it moves from a single channel of distribution.

However, its experience highlights how DTC brands can realign their resources to help them navigate the ways in which their customers want to engage. 

Additionally, new DTC brands are partnering with wholesalers from the get-go to build visibility and build their customer base.

DTC brands have had massive access to data from having sole access to all the data of their customers due to website-based operations.

The traditional retailers have learned from DTC and aimed to replicate the level of data for a personal loyal relationship with customers.

The cost of a customer

Customers being shown a DTC brand of TV of many in a traditional brick & mortar store.

Keeping customers is a far less expensive proposition than acquiring them, but for DTC brands, it’s imperative to increase their base in addition to keeping loyal customers happy and engaged.

DTC brands often start as small, trendy brands that appeal to a particular niche.

For example, the launch of Warby Parker addressed a customer need for affordable, attractive eyeglasses.

By bypassing wholesalers and retailers, DTC brands such as Warby Parker and Glossier have removed the costs associated with having intermediaries between manufacturers and consumers.

As they grow, however, DTC brands are realizing they need to cost-effectively increase their distribution channels.

Expansion is easier with wholesalers’ large customer base as part of the equation. Rising inflation rates are increasing operating costs; goods are more expensive to produce.

Expanding reach for DTC brands

Asian man holding a tablet POS with Retail Pro Prism software on it standing in a mall, slightly smiling

Adding wholesale as part of an overall strategy can help attract more customers, which is particularly important as consumers are becoming less brand loyal and more value-seeking.

No matter the stage of audience and growth your business is looking to have, omnichannel is the most important aspect a business can have to

A recent McKinsey’s Consumer Pulse survey underscores that sentiment, reporting that “more US consumers reported switching to different brands and retailers in 2022 than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic—and most of them say they intend to incorporate that behavior into their routines.”

Adding wholesale into the DTC mix can benefit all those in the ecosystem.
While the DTC model has provided high margins and customer insights, growing brands are able to parlay a wholesale relationship into a larger customer base while containing marketing costs.

Tempered supply chain issues and strategies

Female Owner Of Fashion Store Using Digital Tablet To Check Stock In Clothing Store

As 2023 kicks off, there are still vestiges of supply chain shortages that continue to challenge retailers. Big box stores are still dealing with consequences of 2020 bottlenecks and supply chain issues.

Recent business surveys found that a majority of logistics managers don’t expect the supply chain to fully resolve until next year.

Additionally, a healthy unemployment number nationwide coupled with labor shortages and a looming recession has added to an overall disruption for general retail operations.

The bleak forecast has resulted in softer expectations in demand during the first half of 2023, with a possible uptick in the second half, making margins a key focus.

However, because that economic softness is expected to stick around, supply chains may appear to be working better because there’s simply less economic activity. 

The good news, according to analysts, is that the number of job openings, which reached its highest level in 21 years in 2022, is on its way down.

The Great Resignation has lost steam and the average quit rate is slowing.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate, at 3.4% in January, has been relatively stable since early 2022.

Having a good, reliable roster of associates is critical to moving goods.

Here are some tips to help get you through the next six months.

Retail recruitment strategies

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

The labor shortage is a significant challenge for retailers and will continue to be, well past COVID.

Competition is tough, so retailers are encouraged to look beyond financial rewards and invest in building a brand that focuses on culture, values and career growth.

Technology, too, plays a larger role inside the store. Omnichannel retailers encourage shoppers to order use multiple channels for a single order.

Associates receive, track and present customer orders – as well as deal with the inevitable returns.

Tools such as RIOT RFID can make these processes much smoother, faster and more accurate by taking care of the entire time intensive process of tracking products and updating counts upon return or order placement.  

This is a much broader scope of responsibilities, which requires a more advanced set of skills from the managers and staff.

A more transparent and connected system for retail management and point of sale leads to happier and more efficient staff. Retail Pro Prism provides total visibility across channels, saving your business and associates time so they can be more thoughtful, present resources for customers.

Streamline offerings

Supply chain troubles seem amplified when a retailer’s shelves are empty because several products are unavailable simultaneously.

Streamlining the types of products you offer and partnering with a number of suppliers to provide those specific types of items helps focus investment on high-impact areas.

You’ll be delivering a more consistent customer experience as well.

In addition, consider alternatives to what you currently offer without cutting back on quality of service. For example, florists may not be able to reliably source plastic vases for every order, so they might offer creative bouquet wrapping instead.

Map your supply chain

Ensure you have supply chain visibility. Surviving a supply chain shortage requires a steady flow of parts and materials.

Supplier mapping includes locations, details of what supplier provides and how critical each product is.

Understanding their inventory levels as well as your own is also crucial. Consider tracking your vendor’s supply chain as well.

Having the visibility of connected retail management across channels helps you in accounting for every order in process, giving you peace of mind.

Finally, as suppliers continue to feel the squeeze, be quality conscious.

It’s tempting for manufacturers to cut corners to meet demands quickly.

For designer brands, counterfeit goods can be a big problem when supplies are scarce.

Support your suppliers by investing in them, insisting they only accept first-rate work and authentic products, and offering credit terms if appropriate.

After all, if your biggest, most critical suppliers go out of business, you will too.

Brands Explore Creative Ways To Boost Customer Loyalty

From using artificial intelligence to analyze shoppers’ actions to promoting their own core values, retailers are looking to deeply engage with their customers to increase repeat business.

Customer loyalty is the Holy Grail for retailers. Businesses put hours of effort into understanding just what combination of factors entice a shopper to return – as well as what makes them choose one retailer over another time after time.

The elusive answer may be to create a brand that displays insightful knowledge of the customer, without being overbearing, and connect with them on a personal level.

Retail Pro Prism provides an integrated view of data across all channels and retailers can create customer profiles to record important, helpful data to improve their relationship with customers.

To Know Them is to Love Them

Who doesn’t prefer to shop where the associates are thoughtful, attentive and – if you’re lucky – just a bit intuitive?

It’s for those reasons that retailers such as Nordstroms and hoteliers like Ritz Carlton stand apart from their peers. And it’s why they have tremendous loyalty among their customers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help retailers gain insights into their customers, offering data that helps provide personalized experiences with targeted product recommendations.

Brands can tailor shopping experiences to fit customers’ interests, based on real-time web browsing habits and shopping data.

Knowing what’s of interest to a particular customer allows the retailer to curate selections.

Further, to keep an experience fresh yet relevant, AI can use browsing data to automatically present shoppers with new product selections whenever they visit an online store.

That creates customer excitement over new merchandise, prevents boredom and helps encourage spontaneous buying behavior, especially on mobile devices.

Personalized shopping experiences are central to customer engagement, retention and loyalty in today’s retail environment.

Personalization is also linked to higher conversion rates and product sales. According to McKinsey, personalization can deliver 5 to 8x times the ROI on marketing spend and improve revenue by 10% or more.

AI creates seamless experiences that leave shoppers satisfied and inclined to return.

Personalized ecommerce uses company data to recommend, cross-sell and upsell relevant items to shoppers.

By synthesizing shoppers’ onsite actions, AI can deliver recommendations tailored to individual customer’s tastes.

It’s a strategy aimed at providing better customer experience and higher conversion rates.

AppCard with Retail Pro allows retailers to leverage every bit of data collected from their POS system and using AI to create personalized marketing strategies to increase customer loyalty and in turn, retention.

The Value Proposition

Knowing and catering to the values of your customers can also help foster repeat business.

Values-based purchasing takes into account more than just price, quality and convenience.

These customers look at factors such as sustainability and resale practices as well as cruelty-free manufacturing, local sourcing and fair labor practices.

Sustainability casts a wide net. It can include retailers that sell pre-owned clothing or furniture, for example.

Some brands, such as Patagonia and Coach, incorporate both new and preowned products.

Such retailers have loyal followings that particularly enjoy “vintage” finds of their favorite brands.

Conversely, “pre-loved” merchandise is often available at lower price points, which provides a convenient entry point for a new set of customers.

Sustainability can also include retailers that support certain delivery practices – bundling orders for similar areas, providing eco-friendly shipping materials and cutting back on their carbon footprint throughout their supply chains and operations.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at points of friction to find alternate options for those points of operations.

With Retail Pro Prism, retailers have an integrated view of the data from every corner of operations so they can analyze the whole picture and look for ways to eliminate unnecessary steps or trips.

“Value-driven retail” is more than a buzzword. In a crowded market, it differentiates a brand, and encourages loyalty.

There are factors in addition to fair pricing and convenience that encourage customers to return. A strong set of brand values fosters emotional investment and positions a brand as the best solution for customers’ needs.

And AI-powered technology can help brands create the customer experience that drives success.

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

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Rethinking the Challenges of Retail Hiring

As retailers continue to emerge from the pandemic and gear up for the 2022 holiday season, the challenges of retail hiring and retaining employees are becoming increasingly apparent.

First, there’s the struggle to find employees to fill open positions, as the onsite nature of retail jobs has limited the applicant pool.

Then there’s the challenge of keeping current associates happy and fulfilled, all while not overwhelming them due to staffing problems.

Retailers are on the case. According to a Deloitte study, 83% are investing in employee recruitment and retention.

Those issues include reassessing salary but go beyond that to rethinking flexibility and culture, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

The key is to create a culture that’s worthy of employees’ time and energy on its own merit, rather than one in competition with another, such as those exemplified in the gig economy.

At a glance, jobs in the gig economy such as Uber, DoorDash and Instacart are tough to compete against, retail executives acknowledge.

Gig jobs may be considered more attractive than traditional retail positions because they often offer flexible hours for the same (or better) pay.

They successfully attracted workers who were forced to leave their retail jobs when stores closed during pandemic lockdowns, and many don’t want to return.

With a reported 1 million unfilled retail positions available, stores will require some creative solutions to lure back former employees.

During the past two years, many wage earners have reflected on what work means to them individually.

Money is not always tied to feelings of satisfaction and purpose. Many are seeking a better balance between work and their personal lives.

And then there’s the desire to work from home – a request that is impossible to align with the requirements of retailing.

All of that has created the perfect storm of people leaving their current job while seeking work that allows them to live their lives on their own terms.

Executives must therefore think outside the box to attract talent.

Career Advancement

The challenge facing leadership is the acknowledgment of the constraints of retail work, while leveraging its advantages.

Those benefits are many times directly influenced, if not created, by employers. Significantly, such advantages must benefit both the employer and the employee.

Developing and promoting clear career paths encourages employee tenure. Employees are not simply seen as filling a shift, but rather, as representatives of their brands.

Offering professional development programs demonstrates to workers that a business wants to invest in them.

They provide the retailer with a trained workforce and the employee with a resume-worthy credential.

Not every company can offer in-house training; some employees may be looking to continue their education more formally, for instance at a college or university.

Tuition assistance options can support those career-advancement goals.

Many workers want reassurance their activities mean something and are valued.

Providing an actionable plan to the next level as well as the education or training needed to get there can promote longevity in the ranks.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

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

Infusing DEI into the fabric of a retail business requires a commitment to investing in staffing.

Deloitte’s research found that 94% of retailers believe employees prefer workplaces that “consider DEI.” That means DEI initiatives should be in place at all levels of a company, from entry-level to the C-suite.

Improving DEI starts with an audit of current recruitment practices to identify gaps in the hiring practices.

Each element of the recruiting process—from job descriptions and candidate outreach to employee satisfaction surveys, should be evaluated.

Just as a retailer would promote its career advancement opportunities, it should also be transparent about its DEI goals and initiatives.

The two strategies can work collaboratively, helping traditionally disadvantaged groups receive training and education that can provide entrée into the elusive C-suite.

In a post-pandemic world, retailers must reevaluate what they offer employees beyond salary and standard benefits.

The past two years have given the workforce an opportunity to contemplate how they want to work, and what they want to receive for that effort.

Retailers now must reevaluate what it will take to get associates back into stores while developing a commitment to their staff as well as to their bottom line.

Rebuilding customer relationships

The retail landscape is challenging, regardless of business success and size. Visit Retail Pro’s website 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

Request a demo 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.

Strategies for Supply Chain Resilience for the Holiday Season

Many retailers are heading into the holiday season facing low stock and a reduced workforce, increasing the need for supply chain resilience.

Investments in technology may be the fastest way for retailers to meet the needs of shoppers, particularly as stores are facing a shortage of labor as well as products.

Omnichannel POS systems like Retail Pro Prism help fill the gaps created by these problems.

Supply Chain Resilience Fills the Shelves

man wearing athletic wear, holding two different blue running shoes in a store with supply chain resilience

Once a customer is in the store, keeping them there with a breadth of products is the key to sales and repeat business.

Empty shelves are the enemy of the retailer.

Spotty selection often equates to no sales and the customer is lost, perhaps permanently, to the competition.

In addition, today’s shoppers may not be as brand loyal as they may have been previously.

Customers being ready to entertain brands they haven’t been loyal to also demands that retailers stay abreast of trends to conduct successful merchandising.

Retailers wishing to capitalize on increased desire for brick & mortar shopping would do well to heavily curate their selection.

A recent study found that 80% of retailers believe customers will prioritize stock immediacy over brands, so having a selection of similar products is more important than focusing on a top brand.

Product visibility, from the vendor through the delivery dock, helps ensure retailers have stock when they need it.

Product visibility encourages consumers to shop in-store – seeing products they desire and wish to see in-person in stock across channels – regardless of any loyalty or lack thereof to that particular retailer.

Omnichannel systems account for both online and in-store purchases and help customers as well as sales associates understand where inventory is located.

To derive the most thorough data, they should be integrated with other technologies, such as point-of-sale technology, inventory tracking, and customer relationship management systems across all in-person locations as well as online stores.

Customer data is also necessary to inform retailers’ decisions about what to buy and when to buy it. Managers use SKU-level sales and warehouse inventory insights to gear up for holidays as well as to predict the next “big thing.”

During times of supply-chain uncertainty, getting stuck with unwanted products is a luxury that retailers can’t afford. Planning can be more accurate and efficient by sharing inventory, sales and order data with vendor partners.

In addition, accurate demand forecasting cuts waste in production, leading to more sustainable consumption and production.

When demand is predicted more precisely, items can be manufactured and ordered according to customer demand.

Fill the Job Roster

Happy woman customer handing credit card to a female employee in retail store

Business analytics can also maximize efficiency by providing instant access to store staffing data and order volumes. That helps managers plan work shifts and also improves employee productivity.

Some retailers are automating more tasks‑‑for example, increasing self-checkout‑‑to accommodate a shrinking workforce.

Others are looking to software that can help accurately target the timing of store visits so retailers can provide the personal touch when it’s needed.

Mobility tracking data provides retailers insights about what’s attracting customers to shop in-store.

Additionally, it offers information about where shoppers may linger, avoid and pass through. That data can be used to reorganize stock, change department layouts and set staff schedules.

Anonymized tracking doesn’t compromise customer privacy, but offers managers the ability to draw more meaning from analytics, and to understand customer behavior with greater accuracy and detail.

COVID-19 taught retailers that they can’t control major disruptions that impact the global supply chain.

However, with proper planning and implementation of software tools they can increase visibility into their supply chains, which will lead to better resilience through the holiday season — and beyond. With Retail Pro Prism POS associates have visibility across stores and channels, and are able to quickly determine any weaknesses within their supply chain and possible solutions.

9 Best practices for building your tech strategy with Retail Pro Prism

business and tech team brainstorms for a good tech strategy on a window with dry erase marker. Men and women employees smiling up confidently at their plan.

Now, against the backdrop of smooth, systemically-run performance, independent retailers are taking a double hit. You are competing against Tier 1’s brand equity and economies of scale, and you’re losing profit to pure-play retailers who are saving on overhead costs and investing into channel efficiencies. Bottlenecks, duplicitous inventory and process, and lost opportunities are multiplying your costs at exponential rates. A well-planned and customized retail tech strategy is a necessity.

So how can you use Retail Pro technology to adapt to the demands of modern retailing and deliver the quick and efficient experience consumers expect from you? What does it take on the technology end to make it happen?

Here are 9 best practices for building your tech strategy with Retail Pro Prism.

1. Define the challenge

Focus on one operational bottleneck or customer-facing issue. Topher Mallory of Mexicali Blues chose to focus on the issue of inventory optimization.  

You might choose to focus on promotions or employee management, or vendor relationships. Whatever your focus, make sure it’s specific enough so that you aren’t trying to reinvent your whole retail operation before the weekend comes.

2. Determine the outcome you want to achieve with your tech strategy

Once you have in mind the particular area of your business that you want to reform, think about what you’d like to achieve. Is it a particular inventory turnover rate, or a certain increase in customer retention from your loyalty initiatives, or greater collaboration along the supply chain?

3. Design the experience

How do you want customers to interact with you? How do customers expect to interact with you? What will the experience be like in your store versus online? How will you connect the two, along with any pop-up stores, kiosks, catalogs, etc. that you may have?

Online How will your online channel be tied into your physical stores? Will your shoppers have the ability to see which nearby store has the product they’re looking for? Will they be able to reserve or buy online, and then pick it up at that location? How will that store location know to have the product ready for your customer?

In the store, do you want customers to have a self-guided digital experience or a high-touch, personalized experience? That’ll determine hardware – mobility or kiosk? How will payments fit in? Will you need Bluetooth printers for mobile devices? You’ll need Wi-Fi for that. Will your store associates be able to look up inventory at other locations? How will you collect data from all of that – and more importantly, how will you CONNECT the data points to know when they’re talking about the same customer? What’s the recurring theme here? Connectedness. How will you connect your channels, connect your inventory, connect your data?

4. Build the foundation for connected retail with platform retail management technology

Two men and women wearing office attire in an office connecting the puzzle pieces they all hold

Platform retail management software is a foundation for your technology.

Think of it as if you’re building a store out of legos:

  • Lego shelf structures with little beacons attached.
  • Lego checkout counter with POS, EMV compliant mobile payments platform, digital receipts, and loyalty application.
  • Lego kiosk where shoppers can order something that’s out of stock.
  • Lego backroom with RFID-tagged inventory.
  • Lego server where your web store lives.
  • Lego store in a different part of town.
  • Lego warehouse where vendor trucks are delivering products.
  • Lego vendor warehouse where those products are being picked and packed.

And what is this whole retail world standing on? A base. A platform that is connecting all of those different touchpoints to the same reality.

That’s what platform retail management technology does. It creates a base to which you can connect:

  • your customer data
  • your inventory data
  • your transaction data
  • data from your e-commerce, payments, marketing, loyalty, business intelligence applications
  • data from your vendors for drop-ship

Any kind of tool you use, a retail management platform will be the point of connection to which all data flows. And with Application Program Interface, you can build on it – your applications are running on shared data. Your loyalty application is being informed by both your online and in-store channels. Your digital receipts are generating data that can be pulled into your business intelligence and marketing software to help optimize processes or personalize your marketing communications.

A platform unifies all your data into one data set, so you’re getting a holistic picture of how your customer is interacting with you.

Wherever you are in your tech strategy, having platform technology like Retail Pro Prism is a foundational step to achieving that kind of connectivity and thriving in modern retail.

And you have a lot of options in how you can get there with Retail Pro. These are some of the things you can do with Retail Pro Prism today.

  • In-store mobility – The Retail Pro Prism app supports Apple’s iOS along with Windows and Android devices. Portrait layout in the Retail Pro Prism user interface gives greater ease when accessing the software on small mobile devices like the iPod Touch.
  • Omnichannel order fulfillment – Retail Pro Prism allows associates to create sales at one location and fulfill the order at any other location, as part of retailers’ BOPIS, Click and Collect and other omnichannel offerings.
  • On-hand inventory availability lookup – With inventory visibility that goes deep into a particular store (within a single bin or shelf) or enterprise-wide, sales associates can look up product availability and validate items by their inventory image straight from the POS. Retailers can tie this visibility to their e-commerce site and allow shoppers to reserve items from the nearest store.
  • Customer-centric flexibility at the POS – Sales associates have easy access to POS options, including transaction lookup, pending transactions, central customer lookup, gift card balance check, promotions, and customer tax assignments and rebates.
  • Purchasing & Receiving – Create purchase orders to order merchandise from vendors and create vouchers to receive merchandise and update inventory on-hand quantities.

5. Build the infrastructure of your tech strategy

How will your tech facilitate that experience? There are 2 parts to consider here: deployment and use.

  • Deployment with Retail Pro Prism is flexible. You can choose to deploy centrally or at a local, store level server, or a hybrid of the two. Some retailers are running Retail Pro from the cloud.
  • Retail Pro Prism handles a great variety of retail environments, so you’ll need to decide how you will put it to best use for your retail objective, whether you use it as your customer-facing, mobile POS with custom-branded UI, or as your complete retail management solution with full employee management, promotions, and store operations with omnichannel functions like send-sale.

6. Connect ancillary tools and supply chain

At this point you’ve established your foundation and now, with Retail Pro Prism APIs, you can integrate your supply chain and any of the ancillary tools you use.

One Retail Pro user, Massey’s Professional Outfitters  in Louisiana, USA, integrated an e-commerce solution and a vendor drop ship solution to their Retail Pro platform. Because both of those solutions are exchanging data through Retail Pro, they were able to automate the process such that, when the software acknowledges the absence of the inventory upon order completion, it sends the order directly to the vendor for fulfillment, eliminating stock outs and transportation costs. The kind of visibility they have with the Retail Pro platform allows them to keep lower inventory and rebalance inventory between stores.

7. Connect the digital with the experience

woman looking at a clothing store's website on her phone as she stands in front of the store window, claiming a deal with her loyalty points

Once you have the infrastructure and tools in place, now apply them to both the virtual and physical experience your customers will have. That, primarily, translates to how you leverage the data you collect from all those touchpoints.

Some Retail Pro users have iPads with their e-commerce site at each of their stores for cross-selling across their various locations. For you, it’s a sale. For the customer, it’s happiness – they never leave your store disappointed because you didn’t have what they wanted. As one Retail Pro retailer said, “In order for the specialty store to survive, we have to change the way we do business. Our goal is to combine the in-store personal shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping.”

8. Train the employees

Employee buy-in is absolutely critical for your strategy to work so take the time and really train them on the process, on how to make the most of your Retail Pro investment, on how to reinforce your brand essence in every interaction with the customer.

In talking to retailers who are moving to Retail Pro, we often hear that the in-store mobile POS was gathering dust because employees weren’t trained on how to maximize its use in various everyday scenarios like:

  • Line busting
  • Mobile POS
  • Inventory lookup
  • Customer history lookup for clienteling

That’s why Retail Pro users have access to the Retail Pro University with its flexible training options, including online training so you can train employees at the pace of your retail environment. This is especially useful considering the employee turnover rate in retail! You have hundreds of training videos available to you on the My Retail Pro resource portal, along with other useful resources like documentation, knowledgebase articles from our Tech Support team, and the App Market, which shows you our various development partners for applications like loyalty, payments, marketing, etc..

And finally…

9. Use your findings to keep optimizing the tech strategy

Calibration is an ongoing art. Use the data you collect and the insights you make to keep refining your strategy as the industry changes, as your customers grow up, as their needs change.

Identifying your ideal tech strategy for optimizing your ability to drive sustainable sale growth and operations takes some intentional effort that repays you in dividends. Important elementary elements of the process are analyzing your current state and data and your business goals, and applying the same attention to detail to connecting each channel of your business. The foundation of any retail technology strategy is a retail management platform, which creates a base to which you can connect each tool your operation uses and the data that they all collect. Retail Pro Prism gives the ability for functions important today such as omnichannel order fulfillment and provides a flexible foundation for building off of, incorporating ancillary products easily with API choices.

5 Reasons To Consider Click and Collect

One of the biggest drivers of shopper loyalty is the ease of doing business. Customers have little patience for any sort of friction when buying from a retailer.

Shoppers are well aware they needn’t put up with inconveniences – the after-effects of COVID-19 taught them that stores could be flexible and accommodating.

For instance, many retailers embraced a “click and collect,” strategy, also called “BOPIS”: buy online, pick up in-store.

Click and collect operations at the least are difficult if a retailer isn’t omnichannel.

With the rising importance of recent retail innovation in features such BOPIS to customers, omnichannel operations are now necessary to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape. 

Retail Pro Prism makes it easy to achieve and customize the way your business does omnichannel.

At the time, homebound shoppers found the method irresistibly convenient: Online, they simply “clicked” to buy, but rather than have their purchase shipped, they headed to the store to “collect” it. Many retailers coupled the offering with curbside pickup.

Today, the COVID-19 shopping restrictions are gone, but customers want retailers to continue offering such conveniences.

While click-and-collect was offered prior to 2020, the economic lockdown that the pandemic created saw the strategy surge by 107% in 2020.

It accounted for $72.46 billion in sales, according to Business Insider, and that number is predicted to continue to grow steadily during the next few years.

With busy lifestyles and people reassessing how they want to spend their leisure time, click and collect will likely continue to be a key differentiator for retailers wanting to position themselves as more convenient than their competitors.

Here are five things to consider when building a competitive click-and-collect or BOPIS strategy.

1. Let data drive the understanding of omnichannel shoppers’ habits

female owner of fashion store using digital tablet to check stock in clothing store

Click and collect is an omnichannel retail tactic that lets shoppers pick up their purchases more quickly than waiting for home delivery.

Studies have also found that the strategy not only increases online buying, but it also bolsters in-store traffic, as customers often make additional purchases at pickup time.

Buying online and picking up in store (“BOPIS”) has significantly increased due to COVID-19: Research firm McKinsey reported in the early stages the global pandemic that BOPIS usage grew 28 percent year over year in February compared with 18 percent in January. The data gathered from these customers provides visibility into the type of BOPIS customer a retailer has, as well as what drives them into the store, and can provide a marketing roadmap.

2. Perform an audit of your software systems

The strategy requires sophisticated management software, which receives customer requests from the e-commerce platform. You may also need to upgrade your point-of-sale solution.

The OMS includes inventory visibility, order confirmations, alerts and updates, and distributes orders to the most local store with stock.

Pickup is automatically based on proximity to the address a customer has entered. The best systems provide personalized customer service and are seamlessly integrated, so store associates — as well as e-commerce customers — know what stock is currently available.

3. Real-time inventory is visible to all parties with click and collect

However, the stock needs to move from the shelf to the customer, so efficient in-store operations for “picking” orders are critical.

The real-time visibility across all channels, branches, and designated permissions gives associates the ability to track down an item a customer has seen online, for example.

Staff must be allocated to pick products from the floor without disrupting normal in-store sales.

However, other retailers set aside an area to fill and hold orders, rather than pulling them from the floor or inventory shelves.

Another challenge is ensuring product availability. Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can help create forecasts that consider click-and-collect purchases to get the right amount of inventory to the appropriate locations in a timely manner.

Inventory transparency can help avoid customer frustration: No one wants to arrive at the store expecting to pick up an item that was sold moments before because the inventory system wasn’t properly synched.

To avoid that, some retailers choose to have “safety stock” built into their inventory management software.

4. Consider the customer experience around click and collect

BOPIS with curbside pickup is convenient, but it can minimize the chances that customers will make additional purchases.

Retailers are looking to extend the reach of customer pickup with innovation. For example, by offering an express pickup desk, retailers encourage a trip inside.

Also, location-based text messaging can detect when a customer is arriving for pickup and provide an incentive to go into the store, such as discounts, loyalty points or an easy way to add in-store items to their pickup order.

5. The problem of returns

Beautiful woman shopping tableware in supermarket. Manager helps a costumer with a return, accepting the bag over the counter.

Though returns are a fact of retail life, streamlining the process makes it easier for the customer and less intrusive for the retailer.

Preventing them where practical is ideal; as a result, some clothing retailers are now providing an opportunity for customers to try on items before leaving the store.

Where trying on first isn’t possible, businesses are studying how to streamline the retail process.

Some ask customers to begin their return through the store’s website or mobile app.

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. 

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

However for the customers who prefer stores that allow them to make their return as quick as possible, retailers can provide an option so seamless it’s sure to keep them loyal with a small programing task to set up their systems for all future returns.  When the customer heads to the store, the associates are notified and provided with an exact time of arrival, and the customer is greeted upon arrival for a quick handoff or exchange.

Click and collect is a strategy that can offer retailers data that can inform their inventory selection and stock levels.

It helps customers see retailers as accommodating and flexible, and it requires planning and investment to be successful long-term.

When executed properly, friction is removed from the customer journey and it enhances the fulfillment process.

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.

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.








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