The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of things into focus, including which retailers were prepared to weather a massive supply chain disruption like this, and which ones were not. As we’ve seen panic shopping cause a huge surge in demand, and then inventory shortages, retailers have had to scramble to ensure customers could get their essential items as quickly as possible.
In some cases, this has included tactics like no-contact curbside pickup and ship-from-store, in addition to home delivery. As businesses try to forecast what the future will be like and prepare for a new normal after this pandemic, they need to prioritize customer experience through omnichannel fulfillment, an integrated retail approach that provides customers with a consistent shopping experience on a variety of different channels, to end up on top. Read on to learn about strategies you can implement that will help you strengthen or move towards a full omnichannel approach.
Shift focus from ecommerce fulfillment to omnichannel fulfillment
When people started to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, ecommerce quickly became the go-to shopping method for many consumers, even more so than it already was. People were afraid to leave their homes to go to crowded grocery stores and department stores, and ecommerce allowed them to order some of these items from the comfort of their own homes. This is still happening, though not as dramatically as a few months ago, and many companies are still focusing largely on ecommerce fulfillment. While ecommerce is important, omnichannel distribution and fulfillment will be key moving forward. Retailers need to prioritize being everywhere that their customers are—both online and offline. Something the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated is the importance of having a physical store to enable consumers to utilize fulfillment options such as buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pick-up. During the pandemic, the utilization of these options has skyrocketed. Keeping these fulfillment methods for customers will continue to be important, especially as customers are still faced with long delivery timeframes and out-of-stock options. According to a survey, 75% of consumers who use multiple delivery services (including Amazon Prime) said they were likely to opt for curbside delivery even after the pandemic is over. If you shift your focus to leverage fulfillment options at your brick and mortar store in addition to traditional ecommerce and online options, it can help increase customer loyalty to your brand.
According to a survey, 75% of consumers who use multiple delivery services (including Amazon Prime) said they were likely to opt for curbside delivery even after the pandemic is over.
Diversify your supply chain
Diversified supply chains have become essential for retail companies. In the past, supply chain diversification has been seen as a competitive differentiator for retailers, but implementing it was never thought of as something that was absolutely necessary. The pandemic has shown retailers that diversification is absolutely necessary to survive. This was illustrated early on in the pandemic when Amazon focused only on shipping and storing essential items, halting delivery services for non-essential items, which was detrimental to companies that didn’t have any supply chain diversification. There are several options including drop shipping and smaller fulfillment nodes across the country. If you have brick and mortar stores, you can even use these locations as fulfillment centers for online orders—truly embracing omnichannel fulfillment. Whatever you choose, it’s important to ensure that you can get items to your customers in a timely manner and deliver a great customer experience.
Continue to prioritize in-store experience
With such a huge focus on ecommerce fulfillment, it can be easy to let the in-store experience fall off your radar or even think that in-store experiences are less of a priority. But throughout this entire supply chain disruption, people never stopped shopping. Many people continued to go to physical stores throughout the chaos and will continue to do so afterward, proving that there is still value in having physical stores. When customers come to your store and interact with items, whether it be physically touching, seeing the color of an item, or seeing how something fits, they are connecting with a brand on a more personal level than online shopping allows. If you are concerned that you don’t have enough customers that come into your store, you can always implement a strategy like ship-from-store, which allows you to utilize your stores as fulfillment hubs to ship online orders. This way, you have a place for people who like to visit physical stores, but you can also contribute to online orders for a true omnichannel fulfillment solution.
Focus on your brand experience
In today’s competitive market, it’s extremely important for retailers to control their own brand presence, experience and influence. As we move forward, retailers need to focus on curating and selling products that align with their customers’ ever-changing desires. The retail transformation that was already happening was drastically accelerated by the pandemic, with studies showing ecommerce is poised to grow 18% in 2020 and brick-and-mortar sales are expected to see a 14% decline. The lasting impact of this requires a true omnichannel approach of blending digital and physical. Both of these elements will continue to be critically important to building and maintaining customer trust, proving the importance of embracing omnichannel fulfillment. Carefully curating your brand, products and online presence across all of your retail channels to match your customers’ expectations will be critical to survival.
The retail transformation that was already happening was drastically accelerated by the pandemic, with studies showing ecommerce is poised to grow 18% in 2020 and brick-and-mortar sales are expected to see a 14% decline.
Focus on omnichannel fulfillment with ITS Logistics
At ITS Logistics, we understand the importance of offering your customers an omnichannel experience, but we also understand that it can be complex to do so. Our team members have years of experience implementing, maintaining and improving myriad omnichannel fulfillment transitions. If you’re looking to up your omnichannel fulfillment game, give us a call today!