We sat down with John Lund, President of North American Accessories for Brightstar Corp., to get his take on how these strategies can combine to make a huge impact on retail.
How would you best describe endless aisle?
Endless aisle allows the retailer to truly be a full-service destination which is really exciting. Not only carrying the core items but carrying or virtually stocking thousands of SKUs so you can always say ‘yes’ to a customer. I think the best advantage of endless aisle is your staff, once well trained, should never walk a customer out and point them to the competition. When we do secret shopping, that is often what people will do. So many times they will tell a customer to try Amazon or Best Buy which is not what you want to do to keep that loyal customer coming back over and over again.
Endless aisle allows the retailer to truly be a full-service destination.
– John Lund, President of N. American Accessories, Brightstar Corp.
How does it change what the consumer expects from retailers?
I think in some industries it’s already become a given that when you walk into a store and they don’t have the item you’re looking for, they immediately search their other stores. That’s become the norm and something you need to have. It’s not a nice to have – it’s a must have if you’re truly a destination store. The issue that everyone’s got to be concerned with is that not having it might be considered strange pretty soon. When I go to a Macy’s or Nordstrom’s and they don’t have the shirt in my size, they never just walk me out to some other store in the mall. They always go “Hang on, let me go check what we have,” and then they ship it to me at no charge. They’re still taking that sale -- which felt like exceptional customer service at first but now if they don’t do that I look at them kind of odd.
When I go to a Macy’s or Nordstrom’s and they don’t have the shirt in my size, they never just walk me out to some other store in the mall.
Can you describe the role that drop ship plays in omnichannel?
People have different definitions of omnichannel. One of the concepts is “all the same everywhere you go.” Honestly, I think drop ship is just the stepping stone to the next level of the ability to look like a much bigger place where people can shop. What I mean by bigger is you have the feel of a “Mom & Pop” but the execution of a large retailer, and I think that will bring you into the 21st century.
What are the challenges you see with implementation of endless aisle including drop ship?
The perception of freight charges. Clients often say things like “Oh my gosh, instead of making $20, I’m only making $16 or $15 because of the cost of freight,” and I think we have to get over that hurdle. You aren’t making any money if you say ‘no’ to the customer. With drop ship, you’re making money you wouldn’t have so it should be thought of as a return on investment. The item you were making $20 on, you invested $20 in, but the item you’re making $16 on you invested $0. When you look at pure return on investment, you can see the benefit both ways so we have to really get ourselves understanding it.
You aren’t making any money if you say ‘no’ to the customer.
Ready to learn more about implementing endless aisle and drop ship? Get the whitepaper Five Steps Toward Reimagining the Physical Store.