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Omnichannel Retail: The 5 Elements Needed to Achieve Your Objectives

Omnichannel retailing is like having your favorite coffee shop, bookstore and tech store all under one roof and accessible from the palm of your hand. It’s a shopping evolution where hopping from a website to a physical store to an app feels like a smooth, single conversation. Omnichannel has become the heartbeat of modern retail, and the numbers back it up: over 60% of consumers participate in omnichannel shopping, and for retailers, using 3+ channels increases order rates by 494%.

Yet, succeeding depends on mastering five key elements: Order Management System (OMS), Transportation Management System (TMS), Customer Order Continuity (COC), strategic inventory placement and last mile delivery.

1. Order Management System (OMS): The Heart of Omnichannel Retail

The first element to achieve your omnichannel objectives is an OMS. Think of an OMS as the foundation of your omnichannel house. It holds together diverse sales channels, functions as a central hub coordinating between online and offline environments, and ensures a seamless customer experience. There’s a reason why 39% of retailers are currently implementing a new OMS or upgrading their system, and another 45% plan to do so within the next two years.

Choosing the Right OMS

You’ll want to consider a few key features when selecting an OMS. First are its integration capabilities. A good OMS should seamlessly connect with your CRM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and e-commerce platforms and provide a unified view of sales and inventory. Then, you want real-time inventory tracking to maintain accurate stock levels across all channels, avoid stockouts or overstock situations, and ensure you’re following through on customer promises. Lastly, your OMS should scale alongside your business’s growth. Choose a system that can handle increased order volumes and complexity without compromising performance.

Leveraging OMS for Enhanced Customer Experience

To improve customer service and streamline order processing, consider these strategies:

  • Personalized Customer Service: Utilize your OMS data to offer customized recommendations and support. A Shopify report reveals that 71% of consumers expect personalization. Moreover, faster-growing companies earn 40% more revenue from personalization than slower ones.
  • Efficient Order Processing: Automate order processing workflows to reduce human errors and speed delivery times. Ninety-one percent of consumers expect to receive their order within a week, and 9% expect it the same day.
  • Consistent Cross-Channel Experience: Ensure that your OMS delivers a consistent brand experience across all channels, whether online, in-store or mobile. For instance, 46% of global enterprise retailers believe cross-channel returns and exchanges significantly impact customer retention and loyalty.
  • Real-Time Order Tracking: Add features that help customers track their orders in real time. This transparency builds trust and keeps customers informed about the status of their purchases, reducing the need for customer service inquiries.
  • Flexible Fulfillment Options: Offer various fulfillment options such as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and same-day delivery. An adaptable OMS can manage these options efficiently, meeting delivery trends and customer expectations for convenience and speed.

2. Transportation Management System (TMS): Streamlining Logistics

If an OMS is the foundation of your omnichannel house, then think of a TMS as the essential framework that supports and streamlines the entire logistics structure, keeping it robust and efficient.

Integrating TMS for Efficient Operations

A TMS works best when in sync with other systems like WMS and ERP software. This integration isn’t just about data sharing; it’s about making smarter decisions, keeping an eye on your inventory in real time, and getting a clear view of your entire supply chain to make it more agile, responsive and cost-effective. A report from ARC Advisory Group reveals that companies using a TMS can save approximately 8.5% on freight costs.

Reducing Costs and Improving Delivery

Consider these five savvy strategies to make the most of your TMS:

  • Dynamic Route Planning: Let your TMS find the smartest routes. It’s like having a GPS that considers traffic patterns and delivery spots to save time and fuel. A Gartner survey found that 74% of supply chain leaders made network location changes in recent years to enhance route planning and network efficiency.
  • Carrier Selection: Use your TMS to play matchmaker between your cargo and the best, most cost-effective carriers for each journey.
  • Load Optimization: It’s all about packing smartly. Your TMS can help you optimally fill trucks, reduce trips and save money.
  • Performance Analytics: Keep tabs on how carriers are doing. Your TMS can spotlight areas to cut costs and boost service quality.
  • Automated Auditing: Let your TMS automatically check freight bills. It’s like having a vigilant auditor to make sure you’re not overpaying.

3. Customer Order Continuity (COC): Bridging Online and Offline

In the grand design of retail, COC is the essential wiring that connects every room in your omnichannel house, so both online and offline components operate harmoniously. Just as wiring enables seamless flow of electricity throughout a home, COC ensures that the customer experience is fluid and uninterrupted across all shopping channels.

Creating a Seamless Customer Journey

Imagine a shopping experience where each step, whether online or in-store, feels like a continuation of the last — the essence of a seamless customer experience. In this world, a click on a website or tap on an app transitions as smoothly as a step into a physical store. It’s about giving customers an experience that makes them feel valued and understood, regardless of their chosen channel. It’s a seamless blend that not only wins hearts, but also builds lasting customer loyalty and drives sales.

Strategies for Effective COC Implementation

To knit this seamless experience together, consider these five actionable steps:

  • Sync Your Digital and Physical Worlds: Just like syncing your phone with your smartwatch, ensure your online and offline systems work together in real time, offering a cohesive view of your inventory and customer interactions. Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain 89% of their customers, compared to 33% with weak omnichannel strategies.
  • Brand Consistency Is Key: Your brand should feel like a familiar friend, whether customers are scrolling through their phones or scanning your store shelves. This familiarity breeds comfort and trust. Fifty-five percent of consumers still enjoy going to physical stores to touch and see products.
  • Get Personal with Your Customers: Use what you know about your customers to tailor their shopping experience, like creating a playlist they’ll love. This personal touch can turn casual browsers into loyal customers. Companies succeeding in omnichannel personalization can achieve a 5 to 15% revenue boost across their entire customer base.
  • Support Everywhere, Anytime: Be there for your customers, whether they’re typing a query online or asking in-store. Think of it as being a good host, ready to assist at a moment’s notice.
  • Make Buying and Returning a Breeze: Simplify the purchase and return processes. It should feel as easy and stress-free as returning home after a long day — no unnecessary complications. Don’t overlook the importance of a positive post-purchase experience either.

4. Strategic Inventory Placement: Balancing Demand and Supply

In the construction of a successful retail business, strategic inventory placement is like the smart design of a home. Just as architects carefully plan where to place rooms for optimal flow and functionality, retailers must strategically position their inventory to balance demand and supply. This approach ensures that every product, like every room in a house, serves its purpose effectively and efficiently.

​​Data-Driven Inventory Management

Diving into data analytics for inventory management is like being a detective in your own store. With average inventory accuracy hovering around 63%​​, you’re piecing together clues from sales trends, customer feedback and market shifts. This analytical approach is vital, as 34% of businesses have faced challenges with unavailable products leading to delayed shipments​​. By leveraging this insight, you can anticipate your customer’s next move, staying ahead with the right products stocked at the right time, which is vital for avoiding stockouts and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Optimizing Inventory for Maximum Efficiency

Here are five tips to manage inventory effectively:

  • Responsive Restocking: Continuously monitor sales trends and restock products accordingly, keeping shelves full without excess.
  • Regional Tailoring: Customize inventory based on local preferences and trends, ensuring relevance and appeal.
  • Warehouse Organization: Streamline warehouse layout for quick and easy access to high-demand items, reducing time and effort in fulfilling orders.
  • Seasonal Adjustments: Adapt your inventory to changing seasons and trends, staying ahead of customer needs.
  • Collaborative Supply Chain: Work closely with suppliers for timely inventory updates, ensuring a smooth supply chain and reduced lead times.

5. Last Mile Delivery: Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

Finally, as you construct your omnichannel retail operation, we arrive at last mile delivery — the finishing touch that leaves a lasting impression. It’s like the final coat of paint or the last piece of furniture that transforms a house into a home. In retail, this phase is mission critical, as it directly affects customer satisfaction; it’s your brand’s final handshake with the customer, sealing the deal with a positive experience.

Choosing the Right Last Mile Delivery Partners

Selecting the right partners and technologies for last mile delivery is important, similar to building a championship-level football team from the ground up. Like in football, where each player’s role is integral to the team’s success, in last mile delivery, every element — from the choice of delivery partner to the technology used — plays a significant part in ensuring a winning customer experience. Reliable and efficient delivery partners are the linemen who protect your brand’s reputation, while advanced technologies like GPS tracking and route optimization act as your quarterbacks, reading the field and making strategic plays to ensure timely and efficient deliveries. The result should be a happy end to your customer’s shopping experience, echoing the thrill and satisfaction of a well-executed game-winning drive.

Innovating in Last Mile Delivery

Here are five innovative approaches to last mile delivery that can significantly boost customer satisfaction and loyalty:

  • Green Deliveries: Implement eco-friendly delivery options, like electric vehicles or bicycles. It’s good for the planet and increasingly appealing to environmentally conscious consumers. Almost 80% of global shoppers would consider a more sustainable delivery option for their online orders.
  • Flexible Delivery Windows: Offer customers the convenience of choosing their preferred delivery times. It’s like letting them decide not just if they want to set the dinner table, but precisely when to have their dinner ready — more control means more satisfaction. Smart lockers help here as well.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Provide customers with real-time updates on their delivery status. It’s like tracking a pizza order, adding excitement and transparency to the wait. Ninety-one percent of consumers actively track their packages, 39% track them once daily and 19% track them multiple times daily.
  • Personalized Drop-Offs: Add a personal touch to deliveries, such as a friendly note or customized packaging. Small gestures can leave a big impression.
  • Automated Delivery Systems: Explore using drones or automated vehicles for small parcels. Apart from being efficient, it can be a talking point for your brand.

​​Orchestrating Omnichannel Excellence with OneRail

Omnichannel retail is a complex puzzle where every piece — OMS, TMS, COC, strategic inventory placement and last mile delivery — creates a seamless shopping experience. The OMS unifies sales channels, TMS makes logistics efficient, COC ensures a smooth customer journey, strategic inventory placement keeps stock balanced and last mile delivery caps off the experience with satisfaction.

But what truly brings these elements together is a platform like OneRail, integrating these diverse aspects into a cohesive whole. OneRail’s suite — which includes a vast courier network of 12 million drivers, the OmniPoint™ Platform for streamlined operations and the proactive Exceptions Assist™ team — enhances efficiency and boosts customer satisfaction. And, with easy integration into TMS, OMS, WMS, POS or ERP systems, OneRail showcases innovation and efficiency in this new era of streamlined, customer-centric omnichannel retail.

To see how OneRail can revolutionize your omnichannel strategy, schedule a demo today and experience firsthand how we seamlessly connect every piece of the puzzle.

 

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