The current retail landscape is filled with buzzwords and process management strategies that often address a multi-channel approach, or rather what is referred to as an omnichannel approach in the marketplace. In past years, hundreds of press articles and collateral have been released discussing which retailers may be embracing omnichannel strategies to better ensure the success of the retailer.
Having the right omnichannel strategy may be one of the most important factors for retailers when competing with high-volume, low-margin sectors. Lowe’s Companies Inc., best known for the operation of its chain home improvement and appliance stores in the United States, attributes much of its growth and success to their omnichannel approach. The chain notes that integrating online, in-store, and a combination of order fulfillment has increased quarterly earnings. The company stated that online purchases delivered from a store saw sales growth of 33 percent during the quarter.
Although physical store locations remain a vital part of the omnichannel approach, the increased use and accessibility of the e-commerce platform has had a profound effect on the shift of in-store processes and procedures. According to Euromonitor International, a market research firm- U.S. stores decreased by 0.1 percent in 2017 from a year earlier, the first downturn since 2009.
As a result, physical stores are now embedding the same in-store technology that shoppers leverage in an online environment to enhance the customer experience. Some of these advantages may include facial recognition technology alerting the arrival of loyalty program shoppers, how-to-videos, and even screen technology to show customers what they’d look like if wearing a specific item. All of these changes also mean a change to employee/back-end processes.
It should be noted that no omnichannel strategy can succeed without an effective Business Process Management (BPM) solution at work behind the scenes, integrating corporate processes and multi-faceted procedures that touch both the back-end functionality as well as the consumer-facing user experience.
BPM is the technical process and conductor that ties together today’s retail business model.
Retail today is much more complex than that of the past. Single-roof-mom-and-pop shops looked significantly different several decades ago. Retail must now consider all facets of business management. From customer relationship management, sales planning and accounting, to the logistics of order fulfillment, retail is now run by a web of integrated data-driven technology systems. However, none of these systems were built at the same time. Meaning that older technology systems are now forced to quickly adapt to ensure that all other systems in the business run efficiently.
BPM is the tool that keeps these systems running efficiently and interdependently while also continuously. As a result, the customer never sees BPM, but rather experiences the benefits during the buying process. When the process runs as intended, the customer experiences BPM through shopping, point of sale, fulfillment of order, and customer service. BPM becomes the center intelligence enabling the retailer’s success.
As an example, CITTI Group, a large German-based grocery supplier, recently leveraged BPM to reign in operational tasks, processes and complex procedures that were difficult to document and manage during the company’s rapid growth. The technology has resulted in better documentation for decision-making, as well as more integration between IT and other departments.
BPM works behind the scenes to transform processes as their businesses evolve. This technology helps retailers to see their operation as a whole, to better identify competitive advantages, establish processes for employees, and deliver a seamless experience behind the scenes. Thus, a more positive message is placed in front of the customer, allowing for an environment with lower costs, greater transparency, reduced risk, increased agility and quicker innovation.
BPM works for retailers of any size, and encompasses two key steps. First, the technology helps to create a model that outlines the right process for each of the retailer’s moving parts; and second, it enables the creation of workflows that pull employees, processes, decisions, and technology into a seamless, transformed system.
In addition, retailers should incorporate several key initiatives into their organization that can help them to identify where and how to implement a successful BPM solution, as well as structure the system in a way that they can identify key metrics and ROI. This includes steps such as benchmarking to identify key areas within the organization where BPM can offer the largest impact, as well as simplify certain workflows.
In his role as COO, Mark Holenstein is responsible for the Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments at Signavio, a leading provider of Business Process Management solutions for retailers. For more information download Signavio’s seven-step guide to operational excellence for retailers. For more information please visit www.signavio.com.