According to eMarketer, the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass two billion in 2016. Moreover, the company says not only will tablet users number more than one billion in 2015, it projects that figure will reach 1.48 billion by the year 2018.
For retailers and vendors, that means the potential number of omni-channel purchases are exponentially astronomical.
With each passing day, new technologies feed people’s seemingly insatiable hunger for seamless shopping experiences starting with online product searches to delivery on their front door step. The harried pace of business demands the same seamless experience is afforded to companies that utilize the World Wide Web to stock their inventory and other vital needs.
Before omni-channel made it possible for customers to order products online and expect immediate delivery, purchasers went to stores to buy the products they wanted immediately and bought items online they didn’t need or want right away. Even multi-nationals, such as Target and Target.com utilized different supply chains, vendors and product promotions. Moreover, many of the products the online store held in inventory could not be purchased in the brick-and-mortar location.
Today, however, Big Box retailers and smaller outlets are relying on their .com counterparts with increasing frequency. For example, if a customer goes to a brick-and-mortar location of Kohl’s, only to find the store does not stock a particular coffeemaker, the staff will assist the guest to purchase the item from the company’s web site while they’re still in the store. Arrangements can then be made for the product to be shipped to the store for a free pickup or perhaps even delivered right to the customer’s front door step.
According to 2014 report issued by SPSCommerce, retailers and vendors that are not focused on how to intermarry dropship with omni-channel purchases are losing money. The report, Retail Insight: The Impact of Omni-Channel Trends for 2014 and Beyond, indicates drop ship deliveries are a huge point on contention. Retailers want to embrace the convenience of the ‘endless aisles’ proffered by their company’s web sites although they don’t want consumers to be able to bypass coming to the store to buy what they need or want. Conversely, vendors don’t necessarily embrace the endless aisle concept wholeheartedly while also supporting new capabilities like drop ship delivery.
The report found vendors reporting a larger volume of e-commerce sales are delivered via drop ship, with only 29 percent of vendors stating their drop ship numbers account for less than five percent of their Internet sales. Moreover, a quarter of vendors participating in the survey predict the volume of drop ship deliveries will increase by 50 percent or more in the next year.
Amazon.com is an example of how one entity can manage the retail web sites for other companies to improve customer experience. Borders, Target, Sears Canada and LaCoste are among the multinationals that work with Amazon to ensure smoother deliveries of products ordered online.
When Amazon manages an entity’s fulfilment needs, handling everything for that retailer short of personally delivering products to consumers, customers enjoy a complete omni-channel experience. Mix in the availability of a mobile app, allowing those billions of smartphone and tablet users to make their online purchases quickly, customers can save time and enjoy greater convenience, all at unprecedented speed.