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It’s Retail ‘Showtime’! Are You Ready to Capitalize on Omnichannel?




One of the most talked about trends in retail today is the growing “omnichannel” imperative. With the rise of e-commerce and the increasing dominance of smartphones and other mobile devices in so many aspects of our daily lives, consumers want (and demand) the convenience of shopping how and when they choose.

Enter the global retail industry’s “omnichannel” challenge/opportunity.

It’s an article of faith these days that retailers and CPGs need to provide a real omnichannel shopping experience (online, mobile, in-store and hybrids of all three) if they want to compete effectively with the growing challenge of Amazon Prime and other pure-play e-commerce competitors. This is especially true when it comes to serving Millennials and Generation Z (the younger generation now emerging after Millennials), who are digital “natives” in every sense of the word. The shopping habits and tastes of these younger consumers are revolutionizing the retail industry, transforming everything from how and when consumers shop, to the products they prefer and consume.

Retailers and CPG manufacturers have had to scramble to respond to these emerging demographic realities and the broader technology-driven commerce revolution. Indeed, there are signs of progress in terms of how the retail industry is meeting consumers’ omnichannel needs. For example, one of the fastest growing areas of omnichannel is “click & collect,” whereby consumers order their goods online and then pick them up from the store later that day or the following morning. Recently, we were talking with a national grocery chain VP, who said that in some of his stores, 20-30% of sales were by “click & collect.”

But, even as initiatives like click & collect have registered growing success across the retail landscape, the shift to omnichannel is posing new challenges for retailers and CPG manufacturers. It’s not surprising then that the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), one of the retail industry’s leading organizations, has launched a major research and educational initiative to create a body of knowledge around omnichannel that will help guide retailers and CPGs to thrive in this new tech-centric retail environment.

We were honored earlier this year when FMI enlisted RSI’s assistance in creating a thought leadership roadmap and related educational content to support and advance this crucially important omnichannel initiative. As one of the world’s leading technology companies serving the global retail industry, RSi has deep experience in helping CPG manufacturers and retailers to leverage innovative technologies (like the cloud, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence) to grow, profit and rule in the new omnichannel world.

To start building the foundation for that omnichannel roadmap, RSi recently made a presentation to a first-ever FMI leadership conference that was held in conjunction with the major GroceryShop event that took place in Las Vegas at the end of October.  With many years of experience and deep expertise in every aspect of retail, technology and CPG, the three RSi executives who presented at the FMI omnichannel event were: Jim Smits, VP of Retail Development, North America; Amit Jain, Chief Technology Officer, and Michael Quinn, SVP of Global Business Development.

During their presentation, the RSi executives explained that because of the growing omnichannel trend, grocery retailers must now grapple with a second “showtime” every day. “Showtime” is retail industry vernacular that describes the time of day (usually in the afternoon) when the grocery store experiences its biggest rush of shoppers. To ensure that this “showtime” is a big hit with consumers (and a winner for the store’s bottom-line), the store employees need to make sure that the shelves are completely stocked and everything is ready for a great shopping experience.

Optimizing this afternoon “showtime” is already a supply chain and labor-related challenge for grocery stores. However, the omnichannel click & collect phenomenon has effectively doubled the challenge by adding a second “showtime” to contend with, according to the trio of RSi presenters. They noted that this new “showtime” – usually in the morning – is a result of the store employees fulfilling the growing volume of online orders generated by the click & collect trend. These two distinct buying rushes put tremendous new pressure on employees to replenish shelves, especially to ensure that in-store shoppers don’t encounter out-of-stocks on their preferred items during the traditional afternoon “showtime.”

To be sure, the new sales fueled by click & collect and other omnichannel developments are a welcomed bright spot for retail. Nonetheless, this influx of business does in fact pose new executional challenges that must be addressed by retailers and their CPG suppliers. And that is where technology and effective data-management really come into play.

Our RSi team made several technology and data-related recommendations to the FMI event attendees to help them successfully manage the new omnichannel “showtime” challenge:

» Collect and analyze real-time data from multiple systems
» Start simple with four data streams: order queue, perpetual investor, online fulfillment queue, in-store POS
» Publish exception-based instructions to existing systems and processes
» Continuously predict occurrence and cause of out-of-stocks
» Improve sales with real-time promotional forecasts

Maximizing the rapidly emerging omnichannel opportunity can help CPGs and retailers to delight tech savvy shoppers (in particular younger consumers), create new revenue streams, beat Amazon Prime, and drive greater profits. In other words, if you win in omnichannel, you win in today’s retail.

To learn more about RSi’s omnichannel solutions, click here.  We also invite you to drop us a line at marketing@retailsolutions.com, if you would like to explore how you can own the omnichannel future. We look forward to hearing from you.

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