Year 2011 was the year of online. A record-full of US and UK retailers increased their online presence making just about anything available for purchase on the www. But consumers want more.
According to a recent study published by
Drapers 38% of Brittish shoppers expect click-and-collect
services; services that allow them to go online, select an item and
go pick it up at a certain location. RFID will help drive the
adoption of new online strategies and click-and-collect services.
The early adopters of RFID say that they never could have done
online related changes without RFID. The attraction of RFID
lies in the ability to make items unique, yet easily identifiable
and the possibility to register items with no human intervention.
Its benefits to fashion retailers are indisputable. Inventory
related operations alone offer lucrative ROI. The online element
could be called the bonus.
No sale need go missing
Internet Retailer reports from a study researching the trends
of online shopping and found that 70% of shoppers who enter a
website with the intent to buy leave empty handed - or should I say
empty basketed. Shocking! Half of the instances are explained
by the fact that the consumer did not find the item and this should
be fixed with re-design of the website. The other half would easily
be fixed with RFID, namely the half that is due to retailers not
selling as they are uncertain of their stock levels or simply do
not have items in their stock for online.
A well deployed RFID strategy ensures a 99% stock accuracy at
all times. This leaves no chance for doubt over stock levels and no
sale goes missing. To give you an example: American Apparel
normally run their online sales from the warehouse. In case an item
is not available in the warehouse, the system will check different
stores' stock levels too and when stock is available, allocate the
order to the store. The stores become mini-distributers by packing
and shipping the goods to the customers. This has a direct impact
on customer satisfaction, yet according to American Apparel
themselves, it would never have been possible before RFID.
Another fashion house, Van Vuuren Mode from the Netherlands, is
also among the first retailers to use RFID in order to facilitate
their online operations. For them this was one of the drivers in
the RFID adoption. Their strategy is interesting and somewhat
unique to my knowledge: They have no separate stock for online.
When they get an online order, it is pushed to all stores and the
first store to pick up the order, will make the sale: making the
stores in-fact to compete of the online orders.
Creating the shopping experience and
Let's return to click-and-collect: we know consumers want it -
why would you invest in it? Well, first of all it offers you a
fantastic opportunity to sell more. I give you three examples:
- People who do not use your online service at all. Some of the
people are like me: I do not order any clothes or shoes online. I
buy other things like books, music, airline tickets and electronics
for example; and I can imagine buying accessories. The reason I
don't buy clothes online is my shape, I never know if an item is
going to fit me, not even if I've bought the brand before. And if I
find an item I adore, it arrives and it won't fit - I'll just hate
it, I'll be disappointed and I'm not going to wait for the post
again… Plus, I hate the returning of items, it's a hassle I don't
want. BUT if you had click-and-collect, we'll then I'll just try
the item on in the store to which I ordered it, wouldn't I.
- Impulse shopping. Actually, I need not say more…
- You reach more people. In most cases, different stores hold
different stock: smaller stores only stock a part of a collection
for example. In smaller cities you have less selection due to
lower demand, but it need not be.
Secondly, because you save costs:
Just share the stock! Holding separate stock
everywhere is fast becoming so last season. Not only will you be
able to offer all goods to all consumers as the not-in-store items
are easily delivered there, you will also save on cost. At best you
might be able to reduce the size of your backroom, as you will
deliver more stock directly to shop floor.
And finally because it helps you with SOMOLO strategy
Create the experience! All retailers face the
challenge of meeting the customer on social, mobile and local
(SOMOLO) platforms. A click-and-collect service enables three
things: 1) you bring the store to the customer by widening your
product palette on the online 2) you bring the online to the store
by showing your online content in the fitting rooms or on large
displays in special areas and 3) special mobile marketing to induce
additional shopping: for example as the consumer orders
click-and-collect they get an offer to their mobile phone, the
offer only gets activated in your the store.
From the consumer perspective, they will experience you the same
on all platforms and see them link seamlessly. Additionally they
feel the level of service higher as they have access to a higher
level of services. And instead of this costing more to you, it