Why You Should Be Giving Your Customers Self-Service Options

by Admin August 3, 2017

As retailers and businesses of all types move increasingly into omnichannel marketing and customer service, the importance of giving customers self-service options has increased dramatically.

If you’ve ever had to wait on hold to reach a customer service agent by phone, or wait hours or even days for a response by email, you probably already know the frustration of not having better self-service options.

According to Forrester, 70% of customers prefer to use a company’s website to get answers to their questions rather than use phone or email. In fact, in 2014 Forrester found for the first time ever that self-service customer support outperformed phone agents in user preferences. Respondents reported using FAQ pages on a company’s website more than speaking with an agent over the phone.

The use of help and FAQ pages has increased significantly in recent years, and so has the use of online communities, virtual agents, and online chats. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

However, consumer preferences and trends toward self-service are not limited to the online channel. In brick-and-mortar stores, consumers are increasingly interested in self-service options as well.

If you have ever had to stand in line, wait to check out, or track down a store associate to get a price or locate an item, you’ve probably experienced the pitfalls of not having self-service options in a retail store.

The 2015 global shopper study by our partners at Zebra Technologies found that well over half of consumers agree that providing self-help technologies in stores improves the shopping experience, with 67% citing price checkers, 58% citing self-checkouts, and 56% citing digital kiosks.

These technologies allow customers to find and access products, pricing, and information quickly, on their own terms. They also enable faster, more automated checkouts and even online ordering and shipping of out-of-stock items.

Bringing Self-Service Options to Your Customers

Given the latest trends and the potential benefits for you and your customers, you should be considering a self-service strategy and exploring ways to implement self-service options.

Whether you’re running a business in retail or you’re providing other products and services through an omnichannel model, providing a variety of self-service options will increasingly be the path to more sales, better customer satisfaction, and repeat business.

It’s also why retailers are looking to create a seamless shopper experience by integrating e-commerce and in-store experiences. Seventy-eight percent of retailers are planning to do this, and by combining digital e-commerce and self-service with in-store shopping, order pickups, and returns, they will create a unified experience that offers the best of the online and in-store worlds to their customers.

At ASI, we’re helping businesses increase self-service options and create a unified omnichannel customer experience through expert consulting, systems design, and the power of Zebra Technologies.

Our partners at Zebra are the world leaders in mobile computing, digital kiosks, barcode and RFID scanning, printing, and automated data collection. They help retailers and other businesses provide self-service options and create omnichannel experiences that enhance customer service and give businesses a competitive edge in meeting the preferences and expectations of today’s consumers.

From its innovative Personal Shopping Solution to digital kiosks, mobile price checkers, and point-of-sale technologies, Zebra Technologies equips our consulting team to design systems that deliver outstanding self-service in brick-and-mortar locations. We also partner with Zebra to develop the systems to power great online self-service with increased automation, tracking, and visibility into every aspect of your operations.

Contact us now for a free consultation and to learn more about our Zebra-powered self-service and Service 2 Go solutions for your customers.

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General | Zebra

Getting Value from Returns: Optimizing Your Reverse Logistics

by Admin July 27, 2017

Click-and-collect is now a hugely important service for many retailers and other businesses. Allowing customers to order online and pick up merchandise at a local brick-and-mortar location is a crucial strategy for everyone from Wal-Mart to Walgreens.

However, offering the convenience of click-and-collect often comes with a cost, and it’s one that many early adopters have struggled to manage.

Retailers are struggling to make their click-and-collect operations profitable, largely due to the huge increase in returns and related costs they’ve generated.

This has led some retailers to charge fees for placing click-and-collect orders, but this tactic is at odds with consumer preferences and may have costly repercussions through the loss of sales and traffic that they could have generated if they offered free returns.

The negative consequences of ineffective reverse logistics are underlined by results from KPMG’s 2016 Omnichannel Retail Survey. The survey found that:

  • Free returns are driving extra online purchases and additional store traffic.
  • Free returns and speedy reimbursement are viewed as part of good service.
  • 72% of consumers would be unlikely to shop with a retailer if they had a bad returns experience.
  • 67% of consumers say free returns is the most important factor when considering a return.
  • 15% of all online returns and 23% of fashion returns are intentional; many shoppers order multiple items and physically test products for the first time on receipt of delivery.

The results show that customers expect and want free returns, and you need to get it right when offering them. Many consumers also use returns to take the fitting room or showroom home, so they’re over-ordering with an expectation of returning items.

The resulting challenges and costs are why some retailers are struggling with click-and-collect profitability. However, rather than impose fees and potentially lose business, companies should look to optimize their returns logistics to save costs, improve service, and achieve click-and-collect profitability.

The Three Pillars of Profitable Returns Logistics

To get the returns experience right and achieve profitability, companies should consider three pillars:

1. Reliability. It’s imperative to get returned goods back into your system accurately, by using scanners, mobile computers, or RFID. Best practices suggest that it’s important to provide customers with multiple channels for returns, including in-store, via pick-up, or through return lockers. However, wherever and whenever the item is returned, scanning and processing has to be fast and reliable.

2. Accuracy. Businesses must use inventory visibility to quickly send goods where they’re needed. Stock may go out and be returned through a variety of channels, so you need to know where returned stock is and where it’s needed to accelerate order fulfillment and reduce unnecessary inventory.

3. Speed. While it is important to handle returns in a way that satisfies the customer and minimizes costs, it is equally important to recirculate stock as quickly as possible. Many returns will be ready to go straight back to the shelf, which means improved availability. In-store relabeling and scanning items to return them to the stock keeps your wider inventory up to date and reduces the risk of overstocking.

Getting Practical Help & Insights

We can help you implement these three pillars with some free resources and insights.

Our partners at Zebra Technologies have published an insightful and practical eBook, “Three Steps to Click & Collect Efficiency.” In the eBook, Zebra uses case studies and real-world examples to show what the click-and-collect process should look like and how to make it profitable.

You can also reach out to us for advice, recommendations, and support. At ASI, we work with Zebra to design systems and solutions to optimize your reverse logistics and make profitable click-and-collect possible. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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Getting Value from Returns: Optimizing Your Reverse Logistics

by jjodko July 27, 2017

Click-and-collect is now a hugely important service for many retailers and other businesses. Allowing customers to order online and pick up merchandise at a local brick-and-mortar location is a crucial strategy for everyone from Wal-Mart to Walgreens.

However, offering the convenience of click-and-collect often comes with a cost, and it’s one that many early adopters have struggled to manage.

Retailers are struggling to make their click-and-collect operations profitable, largely due to the huge increase in returns and related costs they’ve generated.

This has led some retailers to charge fees for placing click-and-collect orders, but this tactic is at odds with consumer preferences and may have costly repercussions through the loss of sales and traffic that they could have generated if they offered free returns.

The negative consequences of ineffective reverse logistics are underlined by results from KPMG’s 2016 Omnichannel Retail Survey. The survey found that:

  • Free returns are driving extra online purchases and additional store traffic.
  • Free returns and speedy reimbursement are viewed as part of good service.
  • 72% of consumers would be unlikely to shop with a retailer if they had a bad returns experience.
  • 67% of consumers say free returns is the most important factor when considering a return.
  • 15% of all online returns and 23% of fashion returns are intentional; many shoppers order multiple items and physically test products for the first time on receipt of delivery.

The results show that customers expect and want free returns, and you need to get it right when offering them. Many consumers also use returns to take the fitting room or showroom home, so they’re over-ordering with an expectation of returning items.

The resulting challenges and costs are why some retailers are struggling with click-and-collect profitability. However, rather than impose fees and potentially lose business, companies should look to optimize their returns logistics to save costs, improve service, and achieve click-and-collect profitability.

The Three Pillars of Profitable Returns Logistics

To get the returns experience right and achieve profitability, companies should consider three pillars:

1. Reliability. It’s imperative to get returned goods back into your system accurately, by using scanners, mobile computers, or RFID. Best practices suggest that it’s important to provide customers with multiple channels for returns, including in-store, via pick-up, or through return lockers. However, wherever and whenever the item is returned, scanning and processing has to be fast and reliable.

2. Accuracy. Businesses must use inventory visibility to quickly send goods where they’re needed. Stock may go out and be returned through a variety of channels, so you need to know where returned stock is and where it’s needed to accelerate order fulfillment and reduce unnecessary inventory.

3. Speed. While it is important to handle returns in a way that satisfies the customer and minimizes costs, it is equally important to recirculate stock as quickly as possible. Many returns will be ready to go straight back to the shelf, which means improved availability. In-store relabeling and scanning items to return them to the stock keeps your wider inventory up to date and reduces the risk of overstocking.

Getting Practical Help & Insights

We can help you implement these three pillars with some free resources and insights.

Our partners at Zebra Technologies have published an insightful and practical eBook, “Three Steps to Click & Collect Efficiency.” In the eBook, Zebra uses case studies and real-world examples to show what the click-and-collect process should look like and how to make it profitable.

You can also reach out to us for advice, recommendations, and support. At ASI, we work with Zebra to design systems and solutions to optimize your reverse logistics and make profitable click-and-collect possible. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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General | Zebra

Understanding Omnichannel Retail: Why It Matters & How to Get Started

by Admin July 6, 2017

An omnichannel approach is now the most crucial sales and growth strategy for retailers struggling to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive industry dominated by online sales. However, retailers need to understand omnichannel and carefully evaluate their options before investing in a strategy and the technologies to drive it.

Here’s a quick summary of some key omnichannel trends and considerations you should keep in mind for your retail business.

A recent study by comScore and UPS showed that shoppers made 51 percent of all their purchases online in 2016. This marked a turning point for retail and the first time in history that the majority of purchasing happened online.

As more statistics like these emerge, some analysts have predicted the death of traditional retail, citing an inevitable and precipitous decline sparked by the dominance of online retailers such as Amazon. But how do they explain Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar retail?

In November 2015, Amazon shocked the retail industry by opening its first brick-and-mortal retail store. A few months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to open as many as 400 bookstores. The stores will be used to collect new data, stock shelves from nearby warehouses, serve as “experience centers,” and provide pick-up and drop-off points for 24-hour deliveries and returns.

At ASI, we’re hardly surprised by Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar. It’s part of creating a true omnichannel experience, which means meeting your customers anytime and anywhere, both online and in stores.

Online channels, such as retailer websites, social media, email marketing, and digital as well as mobile marketing are keys to engaging customers as they’re shopping and comparing prices before they buy. In the store, face-to-face interactions and in-person experiences help convert online shopping and price comparisons into successful sales and repeat business.

In fact, a recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that only 7 percent of consumers are online-only shoppers, and only 20 percent are store-only shoppers. The remaining 73 percent are omnichannel customers, who are considerably more valuable than single-channel customers.

Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4 percent more on every in-store shopping occasion and 10 percent more online than single-channel shoppers. With each additional channel they use, they spend more in-store. For example, if they use four or more channels, they spend 9 percent more in-store than single-channel customers. Those who conduct online research on the retailer’s website or other sites before they buy spend 13 percent more in-store than single-channel shoppers.

As the study points out, omnichannel engages shoppers with your brand and ultimately draws them into your physical store. By giving them a seamless, multi-channel experience, you can capitalize on the higher value of omnichannel customers and give them an experience that online pure players can’t match.

Indeed, the best retail brands have achieved success, despite the online trends, by delivering a consistent experience across all channels and valuing the in-store as well as the online experience.

At ASI, we help our clients achieve this by providing consulting, technologies, and support to help them connect and optimize all of their marketing channels—including their website, mobile, social, and other digital experiences, as well as warehousing, inventory, delivery, and in-store operations.

Our recommendations often include implementing and integrating retail technology solutions from our partners at Zebra Technologies. Zebra’s mobile computers, barcode and RFID scanners, and printing solutions offer unprecedented data capture and analytics capabilities, which help you connect all of your retail channels, understand your customers, and develop innovative ways to serve them.

They also empower your staff to provide better service and in-store experiences by enabling better face-to-face engagement, better access to product and inventory information, self-service options, click-and-collect fulfillment, and loyalty solutions to encourage repeat business.

To learn more about omnichannel retail and find the right strategies and solutions for your business, contact us now to request a free consultation. We’d be happy to help.

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General | Zebra

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