Omnichannel initiatives have dominated eBusiness priority lists for a few years now, and leading retailers have been doubling down their investments in omnichannel fulfillment technology. Most of the focus, however, has gone toward store fulfillment of online orders and click-and-collect functionality. Why did these capabilities rise to the top? Because of their clear financial impact on the business, as well as minimal impact on store and associate processes.
But considering that roughly nine out of ten retail sales still take place offline, a much larger opportunity exists when retailers leverage inventory while the customer is shopping within a store. By offering the ability to fulfill out-of-stock items from any location within the enterprise, endless aisle tools offer a scalable tactic for retailers to drive incremental revenue. Today’s endless aisle programs allow retailers to:
- Meet customer expectations. Consumers expect the conveniences of eCommerce—including virtually unlimited inventory and assortment—regardless of whether they’re shopping online or in the physical store. Forrester data shows that in the event that an item is out of stock, over half of US online adults would opt to have a store associate order the item for them if they could get it shipped for free. Offering endless aisle capabilities means never having to say you’re sorry to customers looking to buy your products.
- Maximize the use of store real estate. Without increasing store footprint, retailers can increase product assortment by leveraging inventory located at other stores, within the eCommerce distribution center, or at drop-ship vendors. This is especially helpful for certain categories with large and unwieldy items—such as furniture – or for retailers that are moving to smaller footprint stores in urban markets where accessing the endless aisle is critical to success.
- Deliver incremental revenue. When paired with an associate who is communicating the value of endless aisle capabilities, revenue growth outpaces endless aisle sales made from a stand-alone kiosk or on a customer’s mobile phone. These associates are now being armed with digital devices that allow them to take the order in-aisle, removing friction in the ordering process, increasing basket size, and driving up conversion rates.
- Retain margin by selling through at-risk inventory. For most retailers, markdowns are inevitable due to seasonality, discontinuation, and missed product sales expectations. But retailers with endless aisle capabilities have an opportunity to proactively fulfill endless aisle orders from stores where inventory is at risk of being marked down. This helps preserve margins and clear out slow-moving inventory.
In our recently published report titled “Drive Incremental Sales With Endless Aisle Capabilities”, we delve deeper into the customer and retailer benefits of an endless aisle program, including the expected lift in revenue as well as the top risks in deploying these capabilities. eBusiness leaders responsible for omnichannel initiatives will find this report helpful in determining the needs of customers today as well as the expected value of endless aisle capabilities. Please feel free to reach out to me via our inquiry process to discuss how endless aisle capabilities can help your business.