Brick, Mortar & Cloud: Benefits of integrating data from online and offline stores
The eCommerce cloud has become a destination for many businesses, from new startups to long-established brick and mortar companies. In today's day and age, the convenience of online shopping draws millions of customers to make purchases without setting foot in the store. But does this mean that brick and mortar stores are completely obsolete? Far from it. Brick and mortar stores can be as valuable as an eCommerce platform if the two are integrated properly. By offering features for your company such as in-store pickup, find in store, store locators, and return to store, the success of both the online and physical platforms will increase.
Features that integrate online and offline services
1. In-store pickup
In-store pickup allows customers to order a product online and pick it up from a physical store. Most businesses give consumers the option to deliver directly to a specific address, but allowing them to pick their products at a brick-and-mortar store (even if it's another company) is always a good option. Furthermore, this option is often faster than waiting for a product to be shipped so if customer's need this sooner than later, this route will be worth the drive to the physical store.
It also saves companies shipping costs by being able to use a product they already have in the selected store. And getting a customer to walk into a store can also increase business because they can pickup any other items they may have forgotten in their order.
2. Find in store
Find in store is a feature that allows customers to see beforehand if the product they want is actually in stock in the store. There's few things worse than traveling to a store, battling the crowd, and finding that the item you want is not actually there and you're forced to take your business somewhere else.
Being able to check online and potentially reserve the product to be saved eliminates any doubt as to who that customer will be doing business with. This requires integration of inventory data from both the physical stores and the warehouse but doing so, results in customers having simplified shopping experiences and keeps them coming back.
3. Store location
Another online feature that benefits both the fashion business and its customers is the store locator functionality. Often, customers know who they want to do business with but they may not know where a store is. Allowing them the ability to go online to the eCommerce platform and simply locate the nearest brick and mortar location allows companies to keep loyal customers. Online store location also allows companies to promote their physical storefronts to potential consumers within the area.
4. Returns options
What happens when a customer buys a product and is not satisfied with it? The simplicity of return policies and options can make the difference between losing the customer and keeping that person on the roster for next time. Often, when you have to return a product bought online, shipping it back and waiting for the refund can take much longer than a normal store return. By allowing customers who purchase products online to return to a physical store and return the item, they will be more satisfied and want to continue shopping with that company because they know that if something goes wrong, they have an easy way to resolve the problem. Additionally, if the product is returned to the store itself, the company can handle the transport of the product back to the warehouse or immediately use it as in store stock, thus smoothing over the inventory tracking process and ensuring products do not get damaged or loss in the return process.
The benefits of integrating data from online and offline stores imrpove the shopping experience for customers and give business owners a holistic view of how their fashion company is performing. Integrated data simplifies inventory tracking and other aspects of store management. Bridging the gap between brick and mortar and cloud is a step that offers huge benefits and helps prepare companies for the future.