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Developing The Right Omnichannel Fit

Whether a brand wants to be the fittest fitness company or the top toy seller on the web, they need software support. The May PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, explores the world of omnichannel software with Chris Deck, founder of Deck Commerce, who says that the key to winning the omni race is turning the problems that plague brands into growth tools. Plus, the latest news and rankings of 248 players in the space, inside the Tracker.

Whether a brand is selling athletic apparel globally, or it’s trying to sell parents on letting their kids build their own teddy bears, the bottom line is almost always conversions.

For those online purchases to happen, consumers need to be able to seamlessly search a company’s website, navigate it easily, add items to their shopping carts and enter payment information, all in a frictionless way. With so much margin for error and so many abandoned shopping carts, winning the eCommerce race can be tough.

Deck Commerce is trying to make the race to the checkout just a bit more winnable. The company partners with global fitness and athletics brands like New Balance, Rawlings, Warrior and others, developing omnichannel software and solutions to keep these companies ahead of their competition.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, the company’s Founder, Chris Deck, said that the key to winning omnichannel is turning the problems that plague many brands into the very tools that help them grow.

Teaching Old Systems New Tricks

Before Deck and his team became a software team, they were consultants, helping athletics brands and retailers design omnichannel commerce strategies.

During their time as consultants, they realized that many of these retailers and merchants struggled with three common issues: collecting usable data from their legacy backend systems, managing and leveraging inventory and, finally, managing orders and delivery. The company saw an opportunity to use their knowledge and experience to provide a better solution, so Deck and his team decided to develop their own software solution, and Deck Commerce morphed from a team of consultants to a development group in 2015.

To develop personalized solutions increasingly demanded by eCommerce shoppers — for instance, customized recommendations and offers — brands need data about their customers and their online habits. Deck said Deck Commerce software helps brands collect that data by giving them tools to analyze sales in an existing POS solution, delivering information on what items customers are most likely to buy.

“So, the first thing we built were the tools to help merchandisers expand their data, have it ready for easy digital consumption in forms they could understand and then push that data out across the whole enterprise,” he said.

A Changing Landscape

The solution also works to change how many brands sort and store their inventory.

“Ten years ago, businesses were often creating individual warehouses or allocating inventory that was specifically separated for online selling only,” Deck said.

Rather than keeping inventory in an online-specific warehouse awaiting shipment, Deck Commerce works to build inventory management solutions that enable brands and retailers to store a large variety of  items in local warehouses around the country, managing each item via an online dashboard. This helps these companies speed up delivery times to compete with Amazon and other popular eCommerce warehouses known for speedy delivery.

“You really want to try to leverage your inventory across all your distribution centers, and now, with buy-online-pick-in-store, even your retail stores,” he said. “So you need an enterprise view of your inventory, spread out across multiple warehouses, so you can know what marketing to push out and where the inventory is to support that.”

Deck also emphasized the importance of managing multiple streams of orders for brands. With the development of online sales and an increase in big-box stores, many brands are selling their products through more channels than ever before. And, to solve for potential logistical headaches for brands, Deck said the company’s software enables merchants to manage shipping, customer service, payment acceptance and other tasks via one portal, so that brands can easily monitor and manage orders as they are filled.

“When you’re successful and engaging with customers, you’re getting lots of orders,” he said.  “But when lots of orders are coming in, it’s critical to know how to most effectively process that order, whether from an allocation perspective, who is going to ship it and where, servicing customers, settling payments, all of that.”

The end result is software and expertise that helps even established brands like New Balance improve eCommerce sales and grow their business. The company, known for its running shoes and other fitness gear, recently announced it would be expanding its eCommerce business in order to meet increased customer demands for orders through the New Balance online store.

Learning from the Best 

While the company has found success in the athletics industry by building data, inventory and order management software, Deck is also now expanding its operations.

The company recently announced a partnership with brick-and-mortar retailer Build-A-Bear, a toy-building store often found in large shopping malls. Deck Commerce is using many of the same tenets it has used with its athletic brand clients, who also typically sell in physical retail locations, to bring its bear-building business online.

“By working with a company like New Balance, who has 100 years of history as a branded wholesaler and worked with us to help figure out how to sell direct-to-consumer, we can use that expertise to help Build-A-Bear leverage their investment in new technology,” Deck said.

But while Deck and his team will look to use the same data, inventory and order management tools that power athletics companies and are helping establish the Build-A-Bear brand online, the solutions won’t be quite the same. Due, in part, to the company’s extensive customizable inventory, Deck will work with Build-A-Bear’s existing backend technology to build a new eCommerce store that will debut later this year.

“One of our key value propositions is helping businesses that might not have been built from the ground up to be a digital seller take advantage and leverage their backend technology systems with all these new and emerging front-end consumer channels,” he said. “A company like Build-A-Bear, that has been around a long time and has great systems to support physical retail stores, but they don’t have a lot of the online systems.”

As brands with deep brick-and-mortar roots increasingly move online, it may take some support from omnichannel software along with expertise from wide-ranging industries to find eCommerce traction.

To download the May edition of the PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker™, click the button below…

About the Tracker

The PYMNTS.com Developer Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, provides the payments ecosystem with a view into how software developers are using new technologies to create innovative business opportunities and enable merchants to optimize the ways in which they engage with shoppers today. The developer community within the tracker is separated into three categories: Shopping and Payments, Operations and Marketing.

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