Elevating the customer experience and increasing customer engagement are the keys to a sustainable and profitable retail enterprise. The introduction of buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) services have helped retail preserve customer traffic to stores during a challenging time and create additional revenue streams. However, it isn’t enough to simply offer these services, as inconsistent execution undermines a retailer’s customer base and risks losing some customers entirely. While retailers can’t guarantee that their customer experience is going to be top notch all the time, there are steps that they can take to provide a more consistent BOPIS and BORIS offering.
Why BOPIS and BORIS aid customer experience
The use of BOPIS and BORIS has soared in popularity over the past 18 months. Retailers spent much of the pandemic attempting to aid customers in continuing to shop their offering of products while remaining safe and flexible in their level of exposure to associates and other customers. The key to a good customer experience is convenience. Customers want an easy, painless and straightforward shopping experience, unburdened by unfulfilled or late orders due to stock issues or challenges with locating products. As the world continues to open up from the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, stores are beginning to see the early signs of recovery and BOPIS and BORIS continue to revolutionize retail as customer shopping habits are more centered around omnichannel sales than ever before.
How item-level RFID is key to BOPIS and BORIS
Identifying why it’s essential to implement BOPIS and BORIS is only the first step as businesses can’t hope to effectively leverage them if they don’t have the right tools. Quite simply, you can’t run successful omnichannel sales channels if you don’t have an accurate view of available inventory. This is where item-level RFID comes in. Fully implemented item-level RFID technology is vital to BOPIS and BORIS as it provides customers with a frictionless experience and equips associates with the tools they need to quickly locate items to fulfil customer orders. By taking advantage of item-level RFID technology and its ability to provide a significant increase in inventory accuracy (over 98%), retailers can kick-start an omnichannel offering through successful BOPIS and BORIS implementation.
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RFID’s reach extends beyond BOPIS/BORIS
It shouldn’t be mistaken that RFID technology is simply an enabler for BOPIS and BORIS offerings as the true impact of RFID is felt at the foundational level of inventory management. The crux of RFID technology is its ability to improve inventory accuracy up to 98%, compared to just 70% accuracy without the implementation of RFID. Alongside this improved accuracy, it is also far less time consuming for staff to use the technology compared to manual counting as an RFID-enabled stock count is around 20 times faster on average. It streamlines the time that the staff spend on tasks and frees associates up to be more productive and efficient.
This improved accuracy feeds into every other benefit of RFID technology; it’s the building block to everything that a retailer can achieve with its implementation as the wake of accurate inventory makes every store operational process more efficient. From here, retailers can improve their supply chain visibility, monitor their stock counts more effectively, and respond to accurate sales patterns and inventory levels. All of this feeds into providing an improved customer experience and generates increased sales and profitability.
Customer experience is the path to customer loyalty
There are plenty of different variables in shopping that affect customer loyalty, ranging from the selection of products sold to the knowledge and engagement of store associates. Some of these variables are more directly impacted by store operational processes than others. A Harvard Business School study found that just a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% increase in business profits. It’s also estimated that it costs businesses five times more to gain new customers than retain the loyalty of existing customers. Being forced to continually acquire new customers to replace departing ones is a costly and inefficient business process and elevating the engagement of your current customer base is the sound way to profitability. The most basic aspect of building customer loyalty is to deliver consistent selling experiences and that begins with having the correct stated inventory to avoid disappointing customers.
BOPIS and BORIS is fast changing from “nice to have” to “business essential”
Previously, a BOPIS and BORIS offering was considered to be a “nice to have,” a perk of being a more technologically advanced retailer. However, as this technology becomes the norm, the retailers who have had their BOPIS and BORIS offerings up and running for some time begin to stand out not for simply providing the service, but for how well they consistently execute the service. Retailers who have been hesitant to address their inventory deficiencies are now at a tipping point where they need to act with urgency to avoid becoming irrelevant.