Have you ever packed the kids in the car to purchase a product in your local hardware store only to find that the product you are looking for isn't available? Not only is that scenario annoying for a retail customer but is harmful to the retailer because they lose that sale and potential future purchases with that customer.
“Upon visiting a store and finding a product they want is out of stock, 17% of U.S. online adults say they would use their mobile devices to make an immediate purchase at a competitor’s website; 37% say they will buy that item from an online retailer when they get home, and 35% say they will just go to a different store to buy it.” - Forrester Research-Drive Incremental Sales With Endless Aisle Capabilities
So how do you avoid that entire situation? Offer a unified shopping experience for your customers both online and in store. An Omni-channeled approach to retail is becoming integral to remaining competitive in today's climate. Exploring the endless aisle model for your retail store could help you in the pursuit to capture as many sales as possible both online and in store.
The Endless Aisle Model
The endless aisle model enables the customers in your store and online to browse and choose from a more extensive selection of products that are both stocked in your store and items that are only available to special order or direct delivery.
In-Store Interactive Kiosks
This version of the endless aisle model is also known as the “Virtual Shelf” or “Endless Shelf” model. This model uses the interactive kiosk in a store to display the store's entire product catalog which includes products offered by partnered vendors of a special order. This concept relies on customer independence and self-discovery much like a customer would if they where searching for a product online. This particular model empowers the customer and reduces the burden on sales associates. The benefit of this model is it offers the customer an “endless shelf” experience while they are in the store looking for a product, enhancing their experience.
Endless Aisle Through Order Fulfillment ( Drop-shipping)
This is the most well-known approach to the endless aisle model. This fulfillment model offers a wider selection of products for order on your retail web store and to your sales associates. A customer can order a product from your web store, and that order can be sent directly to your partnered vendor for fulfillment. This model can blend installed sales, e-commerce and click and pick-up models offering the most extensive range sales channels and opportunities inside your store and online.
Partnering with Vendors
To begin implementing an endless aisle model in your retail store, you must first partner with your vendors or third-party suppliers to fulfill customers orders for the products you don’t stock. To facilitate transactions, a digital integration strategy would have to be implemented. The digital integration strategy would have to connect all your businesses sales channels directly to your partnered vendors. This would allow transactions and data to flow between business as required.
Here is an example of a digital integration set up that OrderEase (formerly LinkGreen) offers that connect with a Shopify website.
The vendor would provide the retailer with the product data to populate their endless aisle digital experience, and the retailer would digitally send customer orders for fulfillment. Digital supply chain integrations take care of the order management and logistics, reducing operational costs so all parties can profit.
Will endless aisle benefit your business?
Do you feel limited by your retail space? Are customers asking for a product you can’t stock? The endless aisle model offers your business the ability to sell more products with less overhead, which is particularly suitable for inner city stores who are limited by shelf space or those businesses looking to downsize. Adopting an Omni-channel sales strategy for your retail store will allow you to capture more sales while offering your customers an exceptional shopping experience where they walk away with the perfect product.