Knowledge is a powerful thing, and consumers today have plenty to go around. From the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices to rapidly advancing information technologies, consumers have all the tools necessary to make succinct, well-informed decisions about when, where and how they want to shop.
In many cases, shoppers walk into most shopping experiences – whether it be in-store or digitally – armed with research and information about what they want to purchase and where and how they can find the product that best suits their needs.
According to the “Great Omnichannel Expectations” report released by iVend Retail, roughly 49 percent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they do prior research on an item before making any intention to purchase, while 44 percent admit to researching products online multiple times.
As consumers become increasingly more educated and digitally connected on their shopping journeys, omnichannel retailers must rise to the challenge and ensure they are offering the convenient and seamless experiences that will keep omnishoppers coming back for more.
iVend Retail’s report points out that retailers have a “secret weapon” at their disposal to not only enhance the shopping experience for consumers, but also give them what they expect out of omnichannel shopping: convenience and seamlessness.
It starts with meeting consumers at the delivery and connection points they prefer.
More than half of the survey respondents (57 percent) said they have used buy online, pick up in-store services — and 25 percent said that if a retailer wants to improve the shopping experience offered, it should start by improving this capability for consumers.
This type of cross-channel feature presents a significant area of opportunity for merchants, both from a revenue standpoint as well as the ability to exceed the expectations of those consumers who dislike paying for shipping and waiting for deliveries.
But in order to ensure products are available for whatever channel the consumer prefers at the exact time they are looking for it, merchants must change the way they look at and approach omnichannel fulfillment.
Research from RIS News shows that consumers must deal with the products they desire being “out of stock” or “back ordered” between 10 to 20 percent of the time when they shop. This type of inconvenience and friction can have detrimental impacts to a consumer’s overall experience with a merchant. Luckily for retailers, the real-time visibility and inventory insight needed to ensure a consumer’s shopping experience is seamless across channels can be assisted with the use of the right fulfillment technology and systems.
Deploying flexible and efficient inventory management is critical to supporting the type of product availability requirements retailers need in order to efficiently meet the demands of consumers across channels.
When it comes to shopping, consumers do not just think in terms of channels. They place significant value on consistency, and the omnichannel fulfillment infographic from RIS News underpins how important it is for merchants to provide a shopping experience that works for their consumers no matter when and how they choose to purchase.
Unfortunately, it looks as though many merchants still have a long way to go.
While many retailers understand the importance of efficient inventory management systems, only 13 percent of retailers feel as though their multichannel fulfillment technology is up-to-date. The data also show that nearly 77 percent of omnichannel retailers offer shoppers the option to buy in-store and ship to home, but just 28 percent ensure their consumers can also buy online and pick up in-store.
But on the bright side, roughly 29 percent of merchants have plans to begin implementing upgrades to their order management systems within the next 12 months, while nearly 80 percent said they already have or will enhance their in-store shipping and fulfillment technologies within two years.
According to RIS News, the ability for a consumer to have a clear understanding of what a merchant does and does not have available to them is an important differentiator in the purchasing decision. Being able to support the omnichannel features and capabilities the educated and connected shoppers of today have come to expect can be the difference between fulfilling an order no matter the channel or being passed over for the next merchant who can.
For more on omnichannel trends click here to take a look at the January edition of the Vantiv Omnicommerce Tracker, powered by PYMNTS.com, a monthly recap of the developments within the omnichannel ecosystem.
For more updates from Vantiv, click here.