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Making the shopping experience seamless

By : Susan Boyme

May 24, 2017 08:00 AM

For retailers, being able to deliver a seamless, consistent experience across all channels is essential in the current environment. With more options available to customers than ever before, today's consumers are empowered to shop wherever and however they wish, whether online or in-store.

 

This means retailers will have to improve their technology in order to deliver the high level of service customers are expecting across all channels. But this goes much further than just being able to offer an online or mobile-based eCommerce platform in addition to in-store or catalogue channels.

 

An effective strategy must include an inventory management and optimization system that helps businesses get goods into the hands of customers as quickly as possible, as well as forecasting and inventory management tools that mean consumers won't be disappointed.

 

The backbone of your system

 

At the center of any seamless omni-channel solution needs to be an effective demand optimization solution. This may not be the most obvious part of your offering from a customer's point of view, but it is the backbone of a successful omni-channel strategy.

 

Tools like these help manage orders that come into the organization, regardless of channel, and provide a single version of the truth about inventory and order information across store, ecommerce, mobile, or catalogue.

 

A seamless inventory management solution

 

Forecasting and inventory optimization tools are of course vital if retailers want to avoid the frustration of customers being told their desired product is not available. But in an omni-channel environment, these solutions must take into account every part of the business.

 

Different products may perform very differently on different platforms. Therefore, a cross-channel inventory optimization tool is able to help provide information based on what is selling in each channel the fastest, helping make sure those orders can be delivered in the most efficient way for every customer, no matter how they want to shop.

 

Centralized order fulfilment technologies

 

When it comes to fulfilling orders seamlessly, a wider range of technologies is necessary if consumers are to enjoy a seamless experience.

 

For instance, solutions that can provide click-and-collect functionality are increasingly important, as for many people, this is often the most convenient way of receiving their order. Similarly, shipping direct from a store rather than a central warehouse may sometimes be the fastest way of completing an order, while it's also vital to be able to accept returns across all channels.

 

Having a single version of the truth for cross-channel inventory optimization enables retailers to react much more quickly to changes in demand by region, or even act proactively to address expected shifts in buying patterns before they occur - such as for seasonal purchases. As well as helping avoid out-of-stock and overstock situations, IHL reveals an effective solution in this area can improve sales increases by up to 102 percent, so this is clearly not a tool any omni-channel retailer can afford to be without.

 

To learn more about how these and other tools are helping retail winners achieve significant gains, visit http://www.ncr.com/howgreenisyourgrass, and be sure to take the quick, three-minute benchmarking survey to see how your business stacks up.

Susan Boyme

General Manager of NCR's Retail Industry Solutions Group

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Susan has over 15 years of experience in retail technology, and is currently focused on merchandising and supply chain solutions. Her area of focus includes mapping emerging business and IT trends to NCR’s technology portfolio, providing guidance to product management, sales and professional services.