Why Omnichannel is Critical for Retailers: Customer Interaction Optimization

Part 3 in a 3 Part Series | Part 1, Part 2

Freestyle Solutions partnered with the e-tailing group to do independent research to understand how mid-market retailers are addressing omnichannel in terms of process and technology. Rather than surmise what the experience would be like, we developed a hands-on mystery shopping research study where visits to 25 retailers would reveal the hard results.

Our methodology involved a pre-store setup that considered two types of shopping experiences:

  1. buy online pickup in-store and
  2. place an order for return at a retail location.

Customer Interaction Optimization

In our study, we found that the retail associates universally processed returns via the POS and only in one instance was a second associate required to complete the transaction, so this process was smooth. However, retailers regularly miss an opportunity to turn returns into revenue. As retail employee attrition is all too frequent, technology rather than training should be available for consultative selling opportunities to impact the top line. While it is difficult to replace the experience of a stellar sales associate, retailers need systems to optimize the skill set of average talent.

The Numbers

  • Total time to process return was just under 5 minutes (4.71 minutes).
  • Associates were knowledgeable and comfortable with the technology scoring a 2.94/3.0 where 3.0 is the best scenario.
  • Less than 1 in 4 (24%) encouraged the customer to keep the product by suggesting an alternative item.
  • Even when prompted with a question about other product that could replace the return items, only half of the retailers who did not automatically recommend a replacement item (53%) took an interest in saving the sale.
  • 16% of retailers had store associates using technology to interact with customers.

24% retail associates encouraged customer to keep product

Additional Data Points: 2016 UPS Pulse for the Online Shopper Study
The 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study, based on a survey of 5000 shoppers, reveals that in-store conveniences have strong appeal.

  • 38% online shoppers find appeal in the having associates outfitted with the ability to search for inventory across all stores.
  • 29% find appeal in having associates outfitted with mobile devices such as iPads to assist with product selection and roaming checkout from an associate with a phone or tablet.

The Opportunity

  • Utilize clienteling applications on mobile devices to save the sale in-store when you have out of stock items, a product knowledge gap or a consultative selling situation. By having access to company-wide inventory, store associates armed with mobile devices can keep customers from jumping to the competition that is one click away. Clienteling applications can also help with customer service needs such as returns, appeasements or additional product information such as ratings and reviews. Make sure your clienteling application is integrated with your order management system for customer, order, product, and inventory look-up data.

Read the full research report, Why Omnichannel is Critical for Retailers of All Sizes.

16% store associates using technology to interact with customer

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