Maximizing Sales: How Enterprise Mobility Solutions Can Boost Retail Performance During the Holiday Season
The period from November until January is the most important time of the year for a lot of retailers. While it traditionally started on Black Friday, so named as the day that many retailers will see significant profits, the holiday season has gradually lengthened over time, and some companies will ramp up their operations throughout November in preparation for an influx of customer traffic. It is, therefore, absolutely vital that every possible channel, every aspect of the supply chain, and every part of the retail experience is working at its absolute best in order to maximize sales, improve profitability, and help retailers to grow in their sector.
This is where enterprise mobility comes in. With retail chains by definition having a lot of different locations, having an untethered, unified system where data can be acquired, processed, interpreted and accessed anywhere with an internet connection is critical. With benefits throughout the entire supply chain, here are just some of the ways that business mobility can boost the entire retail supply chain, which translates into better performance and more sales during the hottest shopping season of the year.
Enhanced Customer Experience
The clearest way in which mobility solutions help to boost sales is that they enable an omnichannel approach to both online and physical retail. This omnichannel approach uses the best aspects of multiple different sales pathways to make the buying process as easy, enriching, and enjoyable as possible to maximize the chance of closing a sale. A lot of retailers use multiple sales channels to grab customers, with the vast majority of companies using a combination of a physical retail store, a website, sales funnels, social media, livestream sales and any other means to connect customers with products in a way that could convert to future sales.
However, a lot of companies have a somewhat siloed mindset when it comes to their sales channels; the customer experience at a physical retail store will often be significantly different to their website or any other sales platforms they use. This can create a disconnect, particularly if certain established channels are prioritized over others or certain ways of boosting sales or even certain ranges of products or services are limited to one channel over another. Enterprise mobility allows for collaborative thinking and interconnected sales channels, allowing customers to get what they want the way they want to and how they want to.
For example, someone might want a particular product they found on a company website but instead of buying it there, dealing with delivery fees and potential delays to get a product they want or need quickly, an omnichannel system would let them find that product, go to the physical shop and pick it up that day. The concept is simple, but the more the different parts of the business are interconnected, the greater the services that can be provided, the more transparent and simple the shopping experience, and the greater the conversions for sales.
An example of the kind of services enterprise mobility could provide in that regard is if someone wanted to get a product they found online the same day, a retailer could offer a “click and collect” or BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) service where someone could buy it online and collect it from the shop itself. This is only possible through an interconnection not only of the website and physical store’s purchasing systems but also inventory management for individual stores and fulfillment centers.
Personalized Customer Engagement
A particular subset of benefits that come from business mobility and the collaborative thinking it provides is a unified, personalized system for customer engagement, which for a lot of companies takes the form of a membership system or loyalty card. Most sales channels have unique benefits when it comes to customer engagement, from the purely analog support of regular customers who frequent a store, to the types of recommendation algorithms utilized in websites, emails and social media advertising.
All of these systems were previously often deployed in isolation, so the profile a website had of a given customer could theoretically differ from their social media or email profile, which can lead to issues when it comes to making targeted product recommendations and offering discounts for such. However, by deploying a unified customer engagement system, both online and offline purchases made using the same loyalty account will help to enhance the accuracy of customer profiles, helping to provide tailored product recommendations and discounts to boost conversion irrespective of their chosen storefront or medium through which they purchase (in-store, website, or social media based).
Optimizing Inventory Management
The key to boosting the efficiency and engagement of the frontend, be it the storefront itself or the forward-facing part of a website or alternative sales channel, is to have as efficient a real-time inventory management system as possible. Part of this will be to allow for just-in-time warehouse and store management. By analyzing sales data, certain trends can form for how long a certain stock level will last and how long it will take to replenish said stock.
This allows for efficient stock thresholds to be set up that either provide alerts or outright order new inventory if it appears as if the supply will run out soon, and can factor in particular branch data to take into account regional sales variations. It also allows for this information to be accessed effectively anywhere in the business, so a shopkeeper can know at a glance whether a specifically requested item is available, where it is and how long it would take to arrive in the store if the product is out of stock.
Doing this requires a system that connects warehouses, stores and purchasing departments, and allows for sales to automatically be registered and the consequent deduction of products to be automatically added to a database. At the same time, it avoids the expense that can come from having a lot of unsold inventory taking up warehouse space that could otherwise be used for products that are more likely to sell.
An optimized inventory management system only possible through connecting all of these data sources allows for the maximum amount of revenue with the minimal overheads possible in terms of supply chain delivery and warehouse operation.
The main benefit business mobility has for retail businesses is in terms of efficiency. The fewer hoops a customer has to jump through, the greater the chance that they will make a sale. Additionally, more efficient operations are typically cheaper overall, so using an interconnected system with business mobility in mind can not only save money but also make money without affecting or reducing services.
There are several examples of ways this can manifest, but one of the easiest and most illustrative of these is when it comes to task and project management. Every process in a business is made up of a number of tasks, and an efficient task management system that is easily accessed wherever an employee is in the business allows for the efficient assignment of work tasks and allows for their progress to be tracked and final approval to be signed off. An example of this would be that when an online order is made, a streamlined business mobility operation can generate an order number and an order task checklist to ensure that every part of the order is picked up, checked, is registered with the inventory management system, picked, packed and ready to be tracked by the delivery carrier.
A similar streamlining approach would be the idea of a curbside pickup service. This is similar to click and collect or BOPIS in the sense that it reduces the number of steps and inconveniences for customers, particularly if they are buying from a strip mall or shopping center. Instead, a customer drives to a curb-side pickup station, where a retail assistant can quickly and efficiently provide an order to customers in a process as streamlined as a drive-thru restaurant. With much of the infrastructure also used for click and collect/BOPIS and in some cases home delivery as well, it is an efficient way to add value for customers and add an extra service without particularly large overheads.
Finally, enterprise mobility streamlines a lot of processes that can become time-consuming busywork for employees. Rather than collate and process inventory and sales reports by hand, having that data available and collected automatically in real-time means that companies have the capacity to generate meaningful reports on demand whenever they are needed. This saves departments considerable amounts of time that could be allocated to more meaningful work that requires the invention, skill and capacity that only employees can provide who would otherwise be engaged with unnecessary additional tasks. It also allows for easier and more streamlined forms of communication between different departments, allowing workers without a desk (a common part of many retail businesses) access to information, expertise and team members irrespective of physical distance.
To learn how Spectralink’s enterprise mobility solutions can help your business see retail success this busy holiday shopping season, visit our website or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.