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Jim Agger
 
March 19, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

Integrated fulfillment can boost sales

Ecommerce fulfillment is becoming a competitive differentiator in many industries. However, wineries may struggle to start offering an omnichannel experience because consumers have expectations beyond what is technically possible. Research from Hybris and Forrester Consulting revealed there's a significant gap between what customers want and retailers' capabilities. 

Why start an omnichannel strategy? Correct implementation of this approach can result in a 2 to 20 percent increase in both online and in-store sales, according to Multichannel Merchant. This is the result of offering shoppers the option to ship from the store or pick up online orders in a retail location. Adding this wine shipping option could be particularly beneficial for you. For example, if visitors in your tasting room want to order a case of a wine they liked but can't bring it home with them, offering to ship wine instead can build satisfaction. In addition, if you're close to having to markdown select varieties of wine to make room for new ones, you can boost sales by promoting them on your website. 

However, omnichannel isn't possible without the right technology in place. Wine inventory software is essential to getting it right. In-house operations need to be tightly integrated to avoid errors, and you need advanced fulfillment capabilities. The Forrester research concurred with this find: Technology paves the way for a true omnichannel strategy.

Challenges of reaching customers at every touch point
Simply saying that you offer an omnichannel experience isn't enough - you really have to break down the walls separating different touch points. Some retailers have reached a sense of complacency with this strategy, and it could end up hurting them in the long run, Forrester said. Researchers surveyed 1,500 multichannel shoppers and 256 decision-makers from retail organizations in the U.S., U.K, France and Germany, and the overarching consensus is there's still a lot of work to do before true omnichannel can be achieved. In fact, 94 percent of retail executives said their businesses need to overcome significant barriers before they can reach true cross-channel integration. 

Forty percent of retailers are struggling to integrate back-office operations across all channels. This could open the door for errors in order processing. In addition, 55 percent of those surveyed said their multichannel investments were prompted by customer expectations and the fact that their competitors had already started offering these capabilities, and they were worried about falling behind. Of all of those polled, only 36 percent felt confident about their abilities to meet customers' omnichannel expectations. 

Consumers will be less tolerant of poor experiences
Despite the gaps in what retailers can offer to their clients, shoppers have come to expect a great deal from companies. The study found 71 percent of customers want to be able to view in-store inventory from the business's website. Half of the shoppers wanted to the ability to purchase online and pick up the product from a physical store. More troubling for retailers is that 39 percent won't return to a business if the website doesn't meet their needs. 

Shoppers are expressing a clear preference for convenience. While you may not be able to offer every single option customers want, meeting some of their expectations can lead to an increase in online wine sales. Even if a product is out of stock, customers would prefer to have it shipped to them, rather than visit another retailer. If you offer an integrated experience to customers, you can see the benefits. To accomplish this, you may need to reassess your ecommerce fulfillment capabilities to ensure you can reach your client base in a speedy timeframe. 

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