During the 2016 Black Friday weekend, 10 million more Americans shopped online than the year before. The record-breaking shopping spree generated $3 billion in online sales with more than $1 billion through mobile. And store foot traffic suffered as a result, “overall for the month of December, store traffic was down 13.4 percent, with corresponding decline in sales of 10.7 percent. The result of the 2016 holiday shopping season as a whole was that online sales completed on smartphones reached an all-time high, increasing 23% over 2015 mobile sales.
With the seismic shifts taking place in consumer shopping habits, it’s imperative that retailers evolve their offerings to provide shoppers with what they need, when they need it. While investing in online offerings could be seen as a direct threat to in-store sales, the opposite is actually true: investing in transparent inventory, operational success and seamless fulfillment will improve the customer omni-channel experience.
We recommend the following immediate steps for retailers to achieve omni-channel success:
Invest in accurate, real-time inventory management across all stores and channels. Accurately knowing what items are on the shelf will allow retailers to unlock inventory for local shoppers to find and buy online and from their mobile devices. Querying inventory across thousands of SKUs at hundreds of stores at scale is a difficult technical problem. Partnering with technologies that analyze and predict draw-down patterns while incorporating real-time store employee feedback will give your customers confidence that the item they select will be in stock at their local store when they arrive.
Reorient and train staff to fill orders quickly using pick-and-pack technology to prepare items for pickup. By empowering their workforce with flexible tools to fill online orders, retailers can recapture shoppers that have moved from in-store shopping to online.