2022 holiday sales numbers are in and it’s a huge win for retailers focused on delivering engaging and delightful experiences to customers both online and in-stores. While we normally hear about e-commerce sales, foot traffic to stores has come back with a roar and continues to play an important part in the overall retail landscape.

According to the National Retail Federation, a whopping 72.9 million shoppers came to stores on Black Friday, an increase from 66.5 million in 2021. And online sales during the holiday season rose 3.5% YoY, according to Adobe Analytics. Let’s not forget that today’s shoppers are combining the online and in-store experience. According to Salesforce, 1 out of 5 online orders placed during the recent holiday season were by customers using the buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) option.

Retailers offering BOPIS between December 15th and 24th sold seven times more than those who did not provide BOPIS during this period.”

What Does All This Mean for Retailers?

The resurgence of in-person shopping, along with the continued growth of e-commerce clearly means that retailers who want to be leaders need to deliver top-notch experiences regardless of how customers engage with them. Because one thing is for sure, if a retailer doesn’t invest in all the table-stake capabilities or falls short on delivering the experiences customers expect, customers will easily go to a different retailer who made the necessary investments. 

Everything from real-time inventory availability to a single source of truth for managing orders to delivering a variety of fulfillment options are table-stakes today. 

Ensuring an Accurate Inventory Picture

I’ll give you a perfect example of why it’s important to understand inventory across the enterprise. My favorite big box retailer is always clean, shelves are well organized, and their staff are quite helpful. I enjoy visiting their store to browse for the latest products and to pick up items. I often buy more than I anticipated.

However, when I use their buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) option, their experience often falls short. At least half the time when I order 3-5 items for the buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) option, at least one or more items are no longer available when I go for my pick.   

Ideally the retailer’s inventory system would give them a real-time view of inventory across all their locations. Understanding what’s available across their network in real-time is table-stakes today. Retailers should know what’s available at my local store as well as their warehouses and micro fulfillment centers in order to give customers accurate fulfillment options. Furthermore, accurate store inventory is also a requirement when over 50% of customers want to look at products online and then buy it in store. It’s not just an issue for BOPIS orders but for all the shoppers walking in.

Accurate inventory not only helps retailers understand where to source products from for online orders but also provides a catalyst for in-store shopping. Why go to your local store unless you know they have the products you need?

Delivering Orders On-Time

If a retailer offers home delivery, curbside, BOPIS, ship to/from store to compete with retail leaders, those speed and convenience options need to deliver the customer-centric experiences that shoppers expect and are optimized for retailers to deliver orders at the lowest cost. Delayed shipments, long wait times for curbside and BOPIS orders, and multiple shipments all create poor customer experiences and lead to customer churn. 

“The State of Shipping Report 2022: Why Faster Shipping Matters” reveals that 62% of shoppers expect their orders to arrive in less than three business days when choosing free shipping. However, more than four-fifths of leading fashion and apparel retailers are still using 5-8 day delivery options to service free shipping orders. Failure to meet custom expectations is hurting retailers’ revenues, with a full 56% of abandoned carts blamed on concerns related to deliveries.

In addition to home delivery, many busy households rely on curbside pick-up. Shoppers might order products at their lunch break for pick-up on their way home. They might even have their kids with them after a long day. The last thing this customer wants to do is wait 15 minutes for their order to be brought out to their vehicle. Shoppers expect that once they’ve indicated on the store app that they are at the curbside spot, a retail employee will promptly deliver their order. This of course assumes that retail staff has the order ready to go. The right store fulfillment application can guide store managers to manage online orders and staff to efficiently pick, pack, and fulfill them. Businesses need to deliver delightful experiences, so customers not only keep coming back but recommend the business to others.

At a time where customer sentiment is falling, customer dollars are shrinking, and the average worker is worried about a recession, retailers need to find ways to not only retain loyal customers but to also acquire new ones to grow their business. Blue Yonder’s order management solution is leveraged by leading retailers to provide real-time inventory availability, order optimization, order management, and omni-channel fulfillment. 

To learn more about our order management solutions, click here.