One of the biggest challenges retailers face today is how to meet the changing expectations of customers.
“With Anywhere, Everywhere, we’re saying to customers ‘if we have it anywhere in the UK, we’ll get it to you wherever you want it’, which is a powerful message in today’s climate.”
Mike Shearwood, Chief Executive, Aurora Fashions
People now have product information, reviews and price comparisons at their fingertips – while buying online means they don’t have to rummage for items and can avoid the queue at the till. But how do you replicate this in-store without tying your systems and processes in knots?
Aurora Fashions is using the technology underpinning the mobile revolution to merge web, mobile, social and physical retailing channels to create a seamless experience for customers. Anywhere, Everywhere is a strategy in which all selling channels – both on and offline – are integrated such that order fulfilment across all channels can be realised from one stock pool.
Because of this, Anywhere, Everywhere creates a new approach to stock management and order fulfilment, replacing the traditional approach where stock has to be reserved for larger or online stores.
Group Omni-Channel Director Ish Patel explains:
“Opening up the inventory in this way allows orders for items which are sold on the brands’ websites to be fulfilled from across the entire store portfolio, ensuring crucial sales aren’t lost. With Anywhere, Everywhere, we are achieving a vision of ensuring that if we have the last remaining item ‘anywhere’ in our portfolio, then it is available ‘everywhere’ for the customer to choose how she shops with us.”
Going hand in hand with the new initiative are in-store iPads and mobile point of sale (POS) apps. The tablet devices can either be used as kiosks, enabling customers to browse and buy (with a 90-minute delivery option!) or, in mobile mode, a sales associate can serve a customer anywhere in the store and complete the transaction right through to payment.
“It’s merging multichannel retailing; web, mobile, social and physical,” says Ish, “by empowering store teams to be as information rich as the customer and allowing more time for engagement at the point of decision and not payment.”
This means staff can now engage with customers in areas like the fitting rooms, where the iPads can be used with brand “Look Books” to review stock which may have sold out in-store.
“The iPads enable store staff to access the business’s websites anywhere in the store, check product availability across the estate and place orders online where stock is not immediately available,” explains Ish. “The iPad POS app shortens queue times and makes the payment process mobile, simpler and more engaging.”
In general, the iPad and its associated peripherals cost approximately half that of a traditional fixed till and since introducing them the retailer has seen:
“Anywhere, Everywhere gives every store the opportunity to boost sales by fulfilling web orders and enables even the smallest stores to have access to the brand’s full product range, even much sought after limited edition pieces”
Mike Shearwood, Chief Executive, Aurora Fashions
The solution delivers more availability without increased inventory costs by sourcing products across hundreds of stores and one distribution centre (DC) in real-time. The ability to dynamically fulfil orders from across the entire store network reduces product fragmentation, internal transfers of stock and the amount of markdown spend.
Together these initiatives have created a philosophy across the organisation that sees all channels as integral to an omni-channel shopping experience rather than competing silos.
Aurora Fashions has made a significant investment in its systems to deliver Anywhere, Everywhere. Stock records are now updated in real-time and kept consistently in sync between hundreds of stores, a central DC and 28 digital commerce channels.
At the same time, the iPads have proved a massive success. The new Oasis flagship store, where iPads outnumbered fixed tills, reported a record trading day shortly after launch, the best in its 20-year history. Just a week after opening, the flagship store was taking more than 20 per cent of its revenue from the iPad POS.
Following the full roll-out, every store now has the opportunity to boost sales by fulfilling web orders and significantly improve sell-through rates by offering the customer the brand’s full product range wherever they are.
The results have been impressive. A third of all online sales now come from Anywhere, Everywhere and there have been improvements across the board in terms of both conversion and margin.
Of course, it doesn’t end here. The technology won’t stand still and the way customers use it continues to evolve. Aurora Fashions is continually exploring new ways to integrate the technology into its stores and has iPads in over 50 stores to help enhance the customer experience. It can also claim a high street first in digital money with the launch of PayPal in store, and is advancing current initiatives like Anywhere Everywhere with sophisticated algorithms to maximise efficiencies.
Liz Evans, managing director of Oasis, explains: “Using iPads is a fun and more practical way of shopping. People don’t have to queue and can buy anywhere on the shop floor. They can also look things up online and take pictures of themselves when trying on clothes. We are making shopping more fun, intuitive and innovative.”