One of the biggest challenges to a delightful customer experience across channels is executive bonuses and the KPIs that illustrate whether they (we) should get them. When we first tried to allow merchandise returns to the store from the e-commerce channel, many retailers found their store leadership pushing back hard. Was it because they wanted to tell ‘their’ customer to go take a hike? No, it was because those returns then hit their numbers negatively and it wasn’t within their control to improve the process. The industry as a whole has mostly worked through this use case, but there are still many more challenges that have not been worked through from pricing to the more recent ‘buy online, pick-up in store’ capability.
A very simple idea came to me the other day while shopping for a gift. I overheard a woman asking about a particular piece of jewelry. Unfortunately, the store we were in didn’t have it. She then asked whether it was in a store near her home and the sales associate could hardly bother. She made it clear with her non-verbal communication that reopening the application, searching for the product, and then determining whether it was in stock at another store was not of interest to her (obviously because she was being measured to not care). That’s when I realized that there should be a way to attribute that sale to this store associate, or at least some portion of it, if in fact the woman went and bought it later.
In order to track it, and handle some of the existing infrastructure, I wonder if it could be as simple as a QR code or bar code being printed off of the machine the store associate was using that would include a reference for the other store to more easily look it up and scan prior to sale allowing the tracking. Now, obviously we’ll get to the point where this customer would be able to buy there and pick-up in the store near her home and many permutations of the same, but could it be that there are some simple solutions we could implement easier between now and then?
Don’t get me wrong, I still want inventory at my finger tip in my mobile app, but I recognize this will be a journey.