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Hot Retail Topics 2015 (Part 1)

For my first few blogs for BT Expedite, I thought I’d write about some of the key things retailers are talking to me about, and wanting to crack, this year.    

In this part, I talk about making sure your promotions are profitable, your stock is working hard for you, and your customers are receiving their orders in the way they want.

 

1: Black Friday: How was it for you?

There’s no doubt that Black Friday craziness hit the UK with some force last year, and many retailers saw their best trading days ever. Now that the dust has settled and the P&Ls are in, many retailers are looking at the business impact and asking themselves ‘was it worth it?’

On the plus-side, running a heavy promotional campaign over Black Friday weekend is a sure-fire way to increase traffic, conversion and ultimately sales. And it’s a good opportunity to use the increased demand to grow your customer database.

On the down-side, it can lead to a poor shopping experience on the site – we saw some online retailers effectively telling customers to ‘come back later’. Though the biggest impact on the customer was whether the delivery was fulfilled on time, late or not at all, and we’ve all heard many examples of the pressure put on carriers.

The main challenge for retailers is to determine whether it has had a positive impact on profit and the long-term equity of the brand.

TIP: Consider whether you’re happy with anniversarying (is that a word?!) that year-on-year. And remember, once you get a customer hooked on discounts it’s hard to wean them off!

 

2: Got your stock working hard for you?

Everyone knows what it’s like to try on something you want in store, find it’s the wrong size but the right size isn’t in stock, then call around several stores to see whether you can get it elsewhere. Whether you’re the one making the phone calls or store staff are doing it for you, it’s still a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

Enter Integrated Store, our award-winning solution that helps make a complex problem very simple. In short, if a retailer has our e-commerce platform and our Store 6 POS solution, customers and store staff can place a web order and the stock will be fulfilled from anywhere – the DC or any number of stores using our Integrated Store Product.

The shopping experience is incredibly simple and neither customers nor staff know about all the jiggery-pokery that’s going on behind the scenes. But essentially it’s a powerful rules engine that processes large queries very quickly and determines the most suitable, and profitable, place to fulfil orders from.

So this means retailers maximise the potential of their inventory and customers have more opportunities to get that item they really want.

Building on the success of Integrated store, we also developed a light touch web-based version which enables the multichannel capability without the need for BT Expedite’s Store 6 Solution.

TIP: Consider whether you have stock sitting around in stores that’s not being sold, is taking up valuable space, and would be too costly to return to the DC. What is the value of this stock? If you could sell this stock via the web or other stores what impact could it have on sales and profits? If you think it could be worth the investment then come and talk to us.

 

3: Cracked Click+Collect?

Gone are the days of customers being happy to have deliveries left with neighbours or in the porch. Demand for orders being delivered to store is increasing and E-Consultancy tells us that nearly half of all web orders over Christmas were delivered to store.

This means retailers face many challenging demands: Have they got a wide enough retail estate to provide good coverage? Does the experience picking up in-store meet customers’ expectations? Is there a real opportunity to up-sell customers when they get to store or will they just pick up their order and disappear? And what if they don’t have physical stores, should they try the likes of Collect+ or Doddle?

What’s certain is that retailers will want to respond to this growing demand this year and to ensure they use this opportunity to drive loyalty.

TIP: Make it easy for customers to see whether an item is available for Click+Collect by adding a lookup on your product details page, and encourage repeat purchase by enabling customers to save store addresses to their online accounts.

Ok, time to sign off. In my next blog I’m asking ‘how much do you really know about your customers?’

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