In the Retail Race to Omnichannel, Don’t Leave Your People Behind
Posted by clangway on 12/20/2012 - 14:30
Much of the dialogue and debate on what it means to be omnichannel today focuses on the technologies, and the processes that enable what has become the holy grail of retail. However, amidst that debate, even the darlings of the retail industry can fall short in one critical area…their people.
Yesterday, I went to one of my wife’s favorite stores to finish up some holiday shopping (yes, amazingly I am almost done). This particular store has long been positioned as the poster child for advancements in omnichannel retailing. Mobile POS…check. Visibility into store, warehouse and online inventory…check. Store to customer shipping…check. Emailed receipts…check. So what am I complaining about?bilde.jpg
Well, the store did not have my wife’s size. So the very friendly and ultra helpful associate found one color online, and one in another store. She said she could have either of them shipped to my house. Great.
But here’s where things fall short a bit. She informed me that in order to make it in time for Christmas, she’d have to use expedited shipping and I’d have to pay $15. Hmm. I pulled out my iPhone and went to the store’s website. There in black and white it said orders by 3pm on December 21st would arrive by Christmas Eve. That was still 5 days away! So what gives?
Well, if she can’t do it from the store then I tell her I’ll just order the one that I see online since .com guarantees delivery in time. She then calls her customer service number and tells me that even the site can’t guarantee delivery by the 24th with standard shipping. Huh? But look, it says so right here!
Next she tells me that her register says there is no availability online. Huh? Again I whip out the iPhone, place the item in the cart, and begin checkout. She picked up the phone again. She comes back and says, her register view of inventory is usually more accurate and she’d have to call online customer service to validate. So ultimately, what started out as a good experience was quickly turning into frustration. I was getting misinformation, conflicting information, and was just plain confused.
Net-net…my wife’s gift is on the way. But it reminded me that so much of the focus in this discussion is on the technology enablers. It’s sometimes easy to forget about a key piece of the equation…the people. That retail associate really couldn’t answer some of the key questions on shipping policies and inventory availability and the customer service person on the other end of her phone call wasn’t much better.
Retailers need to make sure that while they are perfecting the technologies that enable omnichannel, they need to equally invest in making sure their associates and customer service reps are cross-trained and informed about the policies and processes across all the companies’ channels.