Pickup Notifications: Retailers, Are you Talking with your Shoppers?
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pickup Notifications: Retailers, Are You Talking With Your Shoppers?

In-store pickup notifications? Seriously? Who cares as long as some notification goes out? Does it make a difference to anyone, anyway? We sent them an email, what more could a shopper want?

Ok. First of all, if these were your thoughts, some of them are quite valid! For retailers who already have in-store pickup, click & collect, or click & pickup capabilities – many customers might not care beyond knowing that they will get an email to tell them to pickup their purchase. But are all your customers the same?

As a retailer, if you want to truly connect with your customers, you must adapt to their wants and needs.

Gen X and Boomers were largely the email generations. Yet even they have migrated to on-the-go messaging systems like twitter, Instagram, SMS (text messaging), Snapchat, Linkedin App, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or others. Frankly, Millennials, and Generation Z aren’t really that fond of email, to start with. So as your customer base and population shifts, a retailer needs to adapt.

In fact, a good friend at Holt Renfrew recounted a telling story about just this point. He was reviewing store by store number, expecting the stores with the most personal customer to associate emails to be the outperformers. Yet he found one store exceeding its numbers on the west coast, with zero (0) customer to associate emails. It turned out that a majority of the customer base for that store were Chinese students. This group did not use email as part of their normal interactions. Rather the social communication platform ‘WeChat’ was wildly popular for these shoppers.

What’s The Point?

The point of the story is simply that as a retailer, if you want to truly connect with your customers, and drive a semblance of loyalty or stickiness with them; then you must adapt to their wants and needs. Even in a simple way, little differences can make a big difference.

In the case of the west coast store, the merchant should encourage more WeChat use among store associates (which fortunately they did). Beyond that, their systems need to be adaptable to this need too. That’s where the retailer needs to insist that their systems vendors have flexible communication capabilities, to connect to a system like WeChat. It means that a good order management system (OMS) that will send these notifications – can adapt, to give the customer options. Flexible communications lets the OMS easily connect to any range of communication media to send the message to the customer, on the platform they use most. Ultimately, that’s where they are most likely to see or read the message.

Aren’t All Retailers Doing This?

Philosophically, all retailers are on this page. Retailers know that customers want the retailer to conform to them, and give them what they want, the way they want it. Many retailers have chosen to launch their omni-channel services based on this premise. Cater to the customer’s wants and needs. That includes being on their favorite medium of communication.

Retailers with click and collect services that offer customers more than one pickup notification option

Yet, this is NOT what we see today, in the real world. Our Kumbaya world depicted above, is not translating to the ground floor. In the Omni-1000 Global  research of over 1000 retailers worldwide, OrderDynamics found that 70.1% offer consumers only ONE method of pickup notification among those retailers actually offering omni-channel services. Another 13.4% simply did not even state whether or how they provide notification. In effect, that means that up to 83.5% appear to provide only one mode of pickup notification.

This is a wake-up call to action for retailers. The Omni-1000 clearly showed us that only 16.6% of retailers with click and collect services offer customers more than one pickup notification option. In a world with so many different communications platforms, this figure is stunning!

Besides being stunning, this also offers an opportunity for retailers. Here is a simple way to differentiate your service from that offered by everyone else. Simply have your OMS vendor connect their flexible communications system to several social media and mobile communication platforms to offer a greater variety of notification services. Then, let your customers know about it, on your website, and when you process an order (be it for delivery, pickup, or reservation). If your customer use WeChat all day, then make sure to connect your systems to the WeChat server to send them a notification there.

Gloomy News, But You Can Fix It

More surprising yet, were the two countries that scored lowest on the flexible pickup notifications for orders. Among US retailers only 6.3% offered more than one notification option to customers. Arguably being the most advanced retail marketers in the world, we expected to see this figure in the teens, at least. Worse yet were the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland and Norway, at 2.2% with more than one notification. With a population so advanced and comfortable with mobile technology – we just expected to see the greatest pickup notification flexibility in these nations.

Aside from the gloomy news for both regions, the opportunity is clear. In either case, a retailer can carve out their distinction with customers. Unlike the vast majority of competitors, offer notifications across multiple platforms and bingo … you will be communicating with your customers the way they want. Importantly, this will leave a lasting impression of your brand with them, and probably their friends (this is the type of thing people talk about). For example, ‘isn’t Holt Renfrew great? They even tell me about the latest offers, and when my items are ready for pickup on WeChat. I use WeChat all the time…

To paraphrase an old Wayne Gretzky phrase, “to score – go to where the hockey puck is heading, rather than to where it has been.”

Getting Flexible Pickup Notifications To Work

For pickup notifications to work properly, you need an order management system that supports flexible communications. If you don’t have this system yet, make sure this becomes one of your important selection criteria. Advance OMS systems will all have these capabilities.

Number of pickup notifications methods that retailers offer

As part of the flexible communications capabilities the system should connect with systems like:

  • SMS – enables text messages to mobiles / smartphones
  • Push Notification – on your Retail App (if you have one)
  • Twitter – direct messaging
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Snapchat
  • LinkedIn App
  • WeChat and other similar services (of course)
  • Desktop Push Notification – to do push/popup notifications on Safari, Chrome, Edge…
  • Other local messaging standards (China, Russia and others have different standards vs western countries)

The Pickup Notification Challenge

For pickup notifications to work properly, you need an order management system that supports flexible communications. Don’t follow the crowd. On pickup notifications, you want your retail brand to be the innovator. The opportunity is clear. Very few retailers are offering options for their shoppers. Instead of force fitting your customers onto your chosen platforms, reach out to them, and connect with them as they want – for their communications. Leverage your OMS’s flexible communications capabilities to connect with a variety of the other messaging platforms. If this is a challenge for your existing system, give OrderDynamics a call to assess your options. If you haven’t yet selected an OMS for your in-store pickup, then make sure to consider flexible communications as one of your important selection criteria.

The world of retail has not quite clicked in on pickup notification options. This is a golden opportunity for your retail brand’s differentiation. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. In fact, I challenge retailer to capitalize on this opportunity.

 

If you are a retailer who is will take me up on my challenge – please reach out to me and let me know. I would love to hear about and write up your success story! Contact me directly at Charles.Dimov@OrderDyanamics.com

 

Author:

Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Director of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.

 

 

 

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