Today’s customers desire a friendly, efficient and dependable service. These changing behaviors compounded with new technology have increased overall consumer expectations. Indeed, customers expect a flawless shopping experience, whether it’s online or in-store. Retailers must be able to adapt and find new ways to fulfill orders effectively. In today's environment, retailers must employ a solid omnichannel strategy to meet the needs of their customers and improve the overall shopping experience.
According to Part One of SML’s State of Retail Report, 53 percent of retailers stated that in-store is their primary fulfillment channel, while 48 percent of orders are fulfilled by home delivery and 30 percent via buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Therefore, it's clear that retailers need to ensure that all fulfillment touchpoints are operating efficiently to implement a productive omnichannel strategy.
Changes in Customer Behaviors
Customers are increasingly using multiple channels during their shopping journey, and they expect a unified experience across all platforms in response to that. For example, they could search online for the features of an item before purchasing the product in a physical store. Using new technologies, customers today offer opinions, describe experiences, make purchases, and engage with brands across both sales channels when purchasing products.
Effectively fulfilling orders across multiple channels can foster success for many retailers. Previously, customers were satisfied with a seamless in-store or online experience. However, the expectation for retailers today is to integrate both methods to fulfill orders. Yet retailers still need to overcome several obstacles when implementing a productive omnichannel strategy.
Challenges Facing Retailers Today
According to SML’s State of Retail Report, when asked about the most significant challenges preventing retailers from providing a seamless in-store customer experience, 39 percent named a lack of staff on the shop floor as the most significant issue. Indeed, the labor shortage has negatively impacted all industries, and retail has been one of the hardest hit sectors. In the current landscape, many retailers cannot optimize their omnichannel capabilities, with SML’s report also finding that a lack of understanding on how to implement an omnichannel strategy is the other most significant (34 percent) issue.
When asked about their difficulties in fulfilling customer orders, nearly half of the retailers stated that frequently out-of-stock items were a major issue. A lack of inventory visibility was cited as an impediment by 32 percent of retailers, and 25 percent said it takes too long to locate merchandise. This highlights the industry’s need to better understand the innovative solutions available to overcome these challenges and provide a seamless customer experience.
Utilizing RFID Technology
Item-level RFID is a proven technology that retailers can utilize to optimize their omnichannel strategy. With increased inventory visibility, retailers can reduce manual tasks and track inventory more efficiently. With many retailers stating that poor inventory visibility is a key challenge for them to overcome when implementing an effective omnichannel strategy, item-level RFID can play a key role in alleviating this challenge, enabling retailers to improve their operations in-store and online significantly.
RFID technology not only provides valuable inventory visibility solutions for retailers, but it can also help improve employee experience and assist retailers in retaining top talent. With RFID tags in place, employees can complete a full stocktake in moments by reading their inventory with a RFID reader. With less time spent manually counting stock, retailers can spend more time assisting and interacting with customers on the shop floor to meet their needs.
RFID’s Role in Order Fulfillment
As modern customers evolve and their expectations increase, providing a seamless omnichannel experience will be the key to success. However, challenges such as poor inventory visibility and a lack of understanding of how to implement an omnichannel strategy prevent retailers from effectively fulfilling orders and meeting customer expectations. With RFID technology, retailers can alleviate these challenges and deliver high-quality omnichannel experiences for customers, allowing them to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Related story: How RFID Can Help Retailers Manage Returns