The emerging age of thoroughly integrated retailing is dominated by a new breed of customer; one who is hyper-connected, and routinely expects merchants to provide a real-time response to their every demand.
Whether the shopper is browsing online or visually scanning the shelves of a favorite store, it’s important to note that her relationship with the retailer is not built on the limitations of the channel, but on her personal perspectives and feelings about the brand.
Shoppers may use different channels simultaneously – for example, checking prices on a mobile phone while standing in a store. The lines between channels are blurring, and retailers need to interconnect all of them in order to fulfill customer expectations.
For retailers, the best way to understand the shopper’s perception is to think of their entire inventory in terms of an “endless aisle” – a continuum of products stocked across online, in-store, and distribution centers that the customer can access and purchase from any touchpoint.
This model demands an operational seamlessness that allows staff to fulfill customers’ wishes regardless of channel, stock limitations, or time – an imperative difficult to achieve without investing in a very competent customer-centric infrastructure.
Understanding how mobile point-of-sale can serve as a foundation for an endless aisle is the first phase of the process. Imagine this scenario:
- A customer scours a department store for a particular size of jeans and asks a sales assistant for help.
- The sales associate consults a tablet or smartphone that enables inventory visibility across the brick-and-mortar store network, as well as the online store and distribution centers, but without success.
- Determined not to lose the sale, the associate drop ships the item directly from the wholesaler andarranges for it to be shipped to the store the following week.
This example illustrates how mobile point-of-sale technology and smart fulfillment models can work together to create in-store flexibility and give customers access to an endless aisle – an offering that’s playing a growing role in long-term retail survival and success.
The outcome cultivates satisfaction and customer loyalty while optimizing revenue opportunities.
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