The retail industry is going through a transformational period that has many scaling back physical operations, but people still want to - and still do - shop in stores. Digital commerce continues to disrupt retailing like never before. To protect and maximise this revenue stream, retailers need to invest in technologies that blend physical and digital shopping experiences. Creating a next-generation store isn’t something retailers can put off for another year - it needs to happen now.
What is a Next Generation Store?
In today’s world, every consumer is an omnichannel consumer. It’s time to focus on the big picture, which is giving the consumer a friction-free experience, no matter how they interact with a brand. The store is now a point of inspiration, a testing lab, a servicing site for orders and returns, a help desk, and a shipping centre. The physical store is mere an extension of the e-commerce experience. It’s a place where consumer can easily return something they bought online, or see, feel and try a product before buying.
Additionally, stores should pick up where a shopper is left off online, where sales associates are re-engaging with conversations around abandoned carts or wish lists to complete a purchase. The next generation store doesn’t add complexity to the shopping experience - it removes it. In the end, it’ll improve customer satisfaction, drive sales, and enhance the brand.
Enabling a Next Generation Store
Delivering seamless experience that customers expect today, including buy online pick up in-store, return anywhere, ship from store and endless aisle, requires a unified cloud commerce platform. When data lives in more than one place, it’s inevitably going to be inconsistent. Therefore, a unified commerce solution seamlessly connecting e-commerce and in-store POS to order management, inventory, merchandising, marketing, financials, and customer service is what is needed.
A reliable, 360-degree view of customer’s orders, preferences, and inventory data is the foundation for outstanding customer experiences. Imagine a customer walking in and being greeted by an associate who can pull up their order history or their wish list from a brand’s online site. This access gives unprecedented associate insight into the customer’s favourite brands, colours, and sizes. This makes the customer feel like the sales associate actually knows them and can be of value - and not just trying to sell them something.
Next-generation POS systems are a point of engagement systems that empower sales associates with information to offer real value to the customer on the floor. Via their POS devices, associates can also process an order for an item that isn’t available in the store quickly and easily, and at the same time, have it shipped or available to pick up in another location. Integrated POS and order management enables the ultimate commerce goal - buy anywhere, return anywhere, and fulfil anywhere. Instead of cobbling systems together, retailers need to trust the data and leverage it in real-time to interact with customers consistently - as Toad&Co has achieved with a unified cloud platform.
Case Study: Toad&Co’S Next-Generation Commerce Strategy
Toad&Co, a retailer and distributor of sustainable lifestyle apparel inspired by the outdoors, is on a mission to double its business in the next three years, including opening 20 new physical stores. The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company currently distributes to over 800 stores in the US. They operate two company-owned retail stores and two partner stores and sell directly to consumers on toadandco.com. So how is this apparel company expanding its brick-and-mortar business during a time when many retailers are shuttering physical stores? They operate by a simple truth: people still enjoy the in-store shopping experience, but they don’t want it to be disconnected from the rest of their purchasing journey. To offer a seamless journey, Toad&Co knew it needed to modernise its technology platform into a single system to run critical business processes.
Toad&Co started its unified commerce strategy by implementing NetSuite’s core ERP system. Soon after, they invested in SuiteCommerce InStore for POS and SuiteCommerce Advanced for e-commerce. Now the company has real-time visibility into the business and customer and can focus on what they do best - making great clothes.
To create a successful store footprint of the future, the need of the hour is to capture all preferences, interactions, and transactions of customers at one place to create rich customer profiles. This will provide them with a smooth shopping experience and serve as a great revenue booster for retailers.