Hyperspace has been supporting hundreds of retailers world-wide for almost 10 years. We often get a unique perspective on the world of retail. Every year it seems that new strategies appear and old ones die out. In this article, we want to present the top three strategies retailers adopted in 2019 and we believe they will continue to be important in 2020.
Omni-channel Integration to the Extreme
Omni-channel was a huge buzz word in 2019. Omni-channel means the ability to connect your retail store to different shopping channels. It integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (e.g., online, in a physical store or by phone). As digital and physical shopping experiences continue to merge, retailers need to deliver the same experience regardless of how people shop.
For example, we work with a fashion/apparel client that uses a cloud-based retail point of sale with 25 stores. They use Hyperspace PIM to automatically create the product data into their Point of Sale. Vendors transmit their product data and images to Hyperspace PIM, which automatically creates products in their Point of Sale. Product data, images and more feed directly into the Point of Sale without human interaction. This also helps the client with reporting since all product data is much more accurate because it’s not being entered manually into the Point of Sale.
Hyperspace syncs the products from the Point of Sale to Amazon USA, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, eBay and 7 different online stores built on Shopify. A few of the online stores are brand-centric and focus only on a specific product line. The rest target potential customers in various regions of the world, which leads to a more focused search engine result.
New products manufactured by the client’s vendors are created automatically in their Point of Sale systems, and this in turn creates automatic listings on all of their web stores and marketplace channels. New products are instantly available for sale in 25 stores and 11 different online channels. Stock is seamlessly managed across the entire platform and all sales from all online sources sync back to their Point of Sale. Retailers are able to sell products to all customers all over the country and create online channels that focus on region, brand and product type.
Vendor Inventory Partnerships
Hyperspace implemented more vendor stock integrations in 2019 than any other year. Vendor stock integration essentially means the ability for a retailer to incorporate a vendor’s products and stock into its workflow.
A good example of this is a client we service with three stores in the home décor industry. The client’s products are on the high-end and costly to inventory in bulk. In addition, some products have hundreds of colors and finishes. The client works with three main vendors and each vendor has a warehouse that can deliver stock directly to the stores in one to two business days. The vendors are also willing to drop-ship directly to customers.
To create this type of arrangement your omni-channel solutions need to be aware of what stock vendors have available in their warehouses. For the home décor client, Hyperspace is able to pull all the stock levels from all three vendors daily and incorporate those stock levels into its omni-channel process flow.
For example, let’s say a new silverware set is the current hot new item for weddings. Store 1 has 0 stock, Store 2 has 0 stock and Store 3 has 0 stock, but the vendor has 250 sets in stock at its own warehouse. By incorporating the vendor’s stock into your processes, your online store and marketplace stores will show that you have 250 available for purchase even when you’re completely out of stock. As a retailer you can sell products that you don’t stock in the store and show more available stock online. Nothing impacts the reputation of an e-commerce site more than having the majority of products always out of stock. By incorporating your inventory with your vendors’ inventory, you can show more products and more stock availability online.
When we first started integrating a client’s stock with their vendor’s stock, the initial thought was to import the vendors stock into the client’s Point of Sale (POS) or ERP (enterprise resource planning system). But, as the client grew and added more products and more vendors, we realized that this approach would not work long-term.
Every Point of Sale and ERP has an application programming interface (API) with a rate limit. An API is what enables you to integrate any data from an outside source. All Point of Sale and ERP solutions have a rate limit or a maximum of how much data you can update in a given timeframe. To accommodate the home décor client we integrated all three vendors into the Hyperspace API, which does not have a rate limit and is architected to suit the needs of each client. It is not a public API.
Storing the vendor stock in Hyperspace versus the Point of Sale enabled the client to add more vendors and more products into its entire omni-channel workflow. It offered unlimited growth potential to add more vendors and more products as needed.
Retailers are always exploring different marketing tactics. Marketing strategies are tailored more towards the individual each year. The newest trend indicates that retailers are going to use artificial intelligence to deploy marketing strategies that target each customer in a unique way.
Rather than getting a catalog in the mail containing 20 pages of products, customer-focused AI marketing means that only products that I have shown an interest in would be marketed to me. Based on my demographics, location, spending habits, interests and more I would only receive information about specific products that truly match my wants and desires.
Instead of getting weekly emails for products that I have no interest in, I might receive a single-targeted text each month based on a product that I am very interested in and could purchase with one click through an app on my phone.
Hyperspace will be introducing our first AI-powered retail app in late 2020. Our Stage 1 plan is to install it with a small retailer and post a branded app on the Apple and Android store for demonstrations. If you are interested in our progress with Stage 1, be sure to register for our newsletter. We will be sending out monthly updates on the current status. It will follow the same thread as our other integrations in that it will communicate directly with your POS or ERP.
2020 is going to be a very exciting year for new changes and new technology. As always, feel free to reach out and talk to us about your goals. Retail technology is our passion and we welcome the opportunity to chat with other retailers and share that passion.