Online and mobile marketing have turned the retail supply chain upside-down. Gone are the days of moving volumes of product in efficient, bulk moves to stores across the world. Today, smaller shipments rule the supply chain, delivering — literally — on brand promises to ensure receipt of single, customized packages under same-day or next-day delivery.
The store remains the core brand-connecting point for most retailers, even for those that see a large amount of growth coming from mobile and/or online sales. The store, in fact, plays a vital role in the marketing end of omnichannel retailing. As the next evolution of multichannel, omnichannel strategies represents a vital way to compete for customers who expect their retail interactions to be transparent across all channels. No customer touchpoint is left out, as websites, bricks-and-mortar stores and social media channels are integrated into one seamless communication stream. But customer expectations don’t stop when the sale is made — the order fulfillment experience is every bit as important to winning repeat business.
An omnichannel marketing strategy that does not fully address implications for store design, information technology support and integrated supply-chain management is an incomplete and inadequate strategy. The question for retail executives to ponder is whether their omnichannel marketing strategy is writing checks that stores — and supply chains — can’t cash.
Retail stores are adapting to their omnichannel commitment with such features as pickup stations for products bought online or by phone, as well as environmental branding to promote affinity programs through social media platforms. Point-of-purchase displays are important, and stores have become a way for customers who shop primarily online to talk to a “real person” or to pick up merchandise that they can’t wait to receive through online shipping options.
There is a number of options for store location and design features to support an omnichannel strategy, and there is an abundance of important questions to answer with each. For example, with in-store pickup, do IT systems support in-store pickup for merchandise marketed online? Which store locations have large enough backrooms or floor space to accommodate the inventory