Technology Helps Big Lots Land at the Top of Omnichannel Ranking
In Total Retail's fourth annual ranking of 100 leading retailers and brands based on their omnichannel capabilities — i.e., programs offered and the execution of those programs — which was produced in conjunction with Orckestra, an omnichannel commerce platform provider that unifies retailers’ e-commerce software, mobile commerce, and retail stores, the industry leaders at the forefront of delivering frictionless cross-channel shopping experiences are revealed.
At the top of those rankings, with five other retailers in a six-way tie, is Big Lots. The Columbus, Ohio-based discount retail chain has made significant strides in its omnichannel offerings in the past 12 months, jumping from eighth place in last year’s list to the No. 1 position in the 2020 rankings. Big Lots doubled down on e-commerce and digital offerings to improve the customer journey across its online and offline touchpoints. Its ascent to the No. 1 spot can be attributed to increased points earned in the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup category, as well as cross-channel returns.
Creating a seamless omnichannel customer experience is one of the most critical factors to retailers’ success today. Big Lots realized this and took action with several strategic investments.
“We want to give customers the ability to shop how, when and where they want,” says Erica Fortune, vice president of e-commerce at Big Lots.
To keep pace with customers’ evolving expectations, Big Lots “built a comprehensive omnichannel approach that prioritizes speed, focus and customer service,” explains Fortune. Implementing
these initiatives with a mobile-first focus was essential to providing Big Lots' customers with a consistent and cohesive shopping experience, regardless of the channel.
“For example, we integrated web and in-store capabilities to allow for easy returns, pricing consistency and order visibility across channels,” Fortune notes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many consumers changing the way they shop, testing the digital capabilities of all retailers in 2020. At the start of the health crisis in March, Big Lots introduced curbside pickup at all 1,400 of its brick-and-mortar stores, expanded its e-commerce presence, and partnered with Instacart to roll out same-day delivery. Fortune says the aggressive rollout of new omnichannel solutions was enabled by the discount retailer’s continuous investments in technology.
“Technology has helped us seamlessly transition traditional in-store shoppers to online shoppers,” says Fortune.
As we prepare to begin a new year, Big Lots is committed to enhancing its omnichannel offerings and is exploring new solutions such as personalized content and experiences, says Fortune.
“Internally and externally, we’re focused on building out our infrastructure across omnichannel touchpoints, including web, in-store, logistics, and customer care,” Fortune says.
For more insights on the leading omnichannel retailers in the industry today, including profiles of other top performers like Big Lots, download the 2020 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers report. This comprehensive report is a resource for retailers to measure themselves against their competitors as well as the leading organizations in the industry. It should also serve as a prompt to conduct a self-audit of your company’s omnichannel capabilities, identifying areas of strength — which can be leveraged as differentiators — as well as areas of weakness. As consumer behaviors continue to shift and purchase journeys cross multiple channels, it’s the retailers that have a strong omnichannel infrastructure in place, including technology systems and solutions, that stand to prosper.
Related story: 2020 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers