Endless Aisles is just another buzzword being thrown around in the retail sector. Yet few retailers are implementing it effectively. Success depends on having a proper comprehension of all of the components, effectively aligning them with your overarching strategy and having the ideal omni-channel systems to put everything into practice.
Inventory Availability and Product Choice as a Source of Competitive Advantage
The way we purchase has come a long way through time and the retail sector has made giant strides in enhancing speed, variety and convenience. As many retail leaders are embracing cutting edge technologies and innovative shop concepts to attempt to carve out a distinguished new position, a renewed importance has been placed on mastering one of the basic areas of retail — optimising product choice & inventory availability. It is an innate human characteristic to seek out the most effective and harmless means to accomplish a job — shopping is no exception. Consumers want to test, purchase and get their goods in the fastest and most effortless manner as possible — usually all within the same day. Without effective merchandise collection, stock and fulfilment management, it is tough to meet those expectations. If you are not stocked up with ready-available, appropriate product solutions in-store or online, customers are not likely to perceive you may efficiently fulfil their demands.
The typical retailer loses 4% of potential revenue as a result of customers purchasing products from other retailers when things aren’t immediately available for purchase (1).
Those retailers that can exceed customer expectations and give the fastest and easiest access to a range of their best products to meet their needs, can secure a highly effective source of sustainable competitive edge in their own category. The financial effect of greater eCommerce and in-store earnings can be deep. ConnectPOS customers see an average of $120,000 increased yearly profit per store by allowing such plans.
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Endless Aisles — The Panacea
The renewed focus on merchandise variety and inventory management as a source of competitive advantage has resulted in the notion of an Endless Aisles strategy. It pertains to retailers pursuing a business model where all their shops and channels can leverage all inventory across their entire supply chain to maximise product availability and choice, and optimise the fulfilment experience for clients.
In its purest form this would mean clients have full access to some retailers stock whether they step into a physical shop or visit their eCommerce website. Endless Aisles usually involves a wide range of systems and practices such as Automated Inter-Store Stock Transfers, Click & Collect and In-Store Stock Assess, In-Store Kiosks and Drop Shipping.
Drop Shipping is an integral functionality where a merchant can dramatically increase their product offering beyond what they devote to maintain stock for. Physical retail space can be maximised, as the shop can hold the best selling items only (in limited amounts ), but still have the ability to purchase or send items directly to the customer.
In addition to supplying product choice and maximising the probability of inventory availability (preventing lost earnings from understocking), an Endless Aisles approach means a broader selection of fulfilment choices are available to increase convenience and speed. Shoppers can select from the buying channels that provide them with the most effective and enriching experience.
The Online Endless Aisles Experience
By giving access to your entire in-store inventory (and possibly all your providers products through dropship processes), you can dramatically improve your eCommerce sales. Real-time visibility and improved accessibility of stock means you are not as likely to see abandonment due to stock outs and more likely to win the sale. By using live stock data based on what is actually available on your supply chain and home delivery fulfilment ETAs, you may set the perfect customer expectations.
To genuinely stand out you will need to meet and surpass customer expectations around fulfilment speed. Systems that identify the best location (store, warehouse or supplier) to ship from way you can achieve next day, same day or even briefer home delivery timeframes. Where you do not have stock immediately available, the capacity to supply real time confirmation of delivery time could be another way to procure the sale. Providing the widest assortment of fulfilment options will enhance customer choice and increase your probability of winning the sale.
Offering Click & Collect and In-Store Stock Assess based on real time in-store stock data can induce visits to your local shops where you can leverage successful cross-selling, up-selling and loyalty program processes and drive higher sales and margins.
Reaching a true Endless Aisles offering online depends on complex, integrated omni-channel inventory and supply chain management systems that operate across your various sales channels.
The In-Store Limitless Aisles Experience
Bricks and mortar stores can adopt the Endless Aisles concept and provide maximum choice and stock availability by shop workers having established procedures for:
- Automated Inter-Store Stock Transfers (or home delivery) from other places
- Selling off inbound purchase orders
- Drop-ship fulfilment from the providers
- Interactive kiosks or pills that allow store visitors to navigate (or personnel to showcase) your entire product range
Again, attaining Infinite Aisles in-store is dependent on using advanced retail management systems across your network and supply chain that standardise and automate processes.
Fulfilment Is Essential to the Endless Aisles Expertise
An endless aisle strategy should be directly connected to consistently providing the best customer experience. In the end, it is about providing the customer with what they want, as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Offering access to inventory from a wide assortment of locations and channels isn’t sufficient for Endless Aisless approach to be a source of competitive edge. So as to flourish with this strategy, retailers will need to optimise their stock and fulfilment locations and procedures so there’s stock available nearby that may be fulfilled within a timeframe that meets or exceeds their expectations. An advanced Retail Management Systems such as ConnectPOS will guarantee this. It is going to automatically examine the perfect location and fulfilment way of the client and provide an accurate, data-driven ETA to set a realistic expectation.
It’s All Down To Your Retail Strategy & Systems…
Much more importantly, retailers will need to develop their Endless Aisles abilities using their entire retail strategy in mind, basing it around the question:’how we will win in this marketplace?’ . They want consider who their buyer personas are and what matters to themthen invent a distinctive competitive positioning strategy which enables them to best meet these requirements. It might be that ensured stock availability and quickest fulfilment for a small, core choice is exactly what matters for some clients segments and that is more important to concentrate on rather than supplying the broadest option. In that case, an Endless Aisles capacity ought to be build focusing on optimizing inventory availability and fulfilment rate for that small core selection array. In a nutshell, your aggressive strategy should direct your Endless Aisles approach.
Once the right plan for the application of the Endless Aisles concept was developed, appropriate retail management systems will be a pre-requisite for achievement. Without the perfect systems, you won’t be able to set up the integrated, automatic omni-channel procedures which are needed for Endless Aisles to be efficiently executed.