These Three Hidden Omnichannel Costs Hurt Indie Retailers

Retail Systems Research (RSR) and e-commerce software company Webgility unveiled new research that identifies and solves the major problems limiting independent retailers' effective use of omnichannel selling. The report, "Three Hidden Costs of Omnichannel That Impact the Independent Retailer," is available for free download.

"One of the biggest obstacles of being a small, independent retailer is that you have all of the challenges of big retailers, but none of the resources they have to tackle these challenges," said Nikki Baird, managing partner, RSR. "Omnichannel — the act of serving customers holistically across multiple touch points — is no different. Consumers don't care if the retailer is big or small. They just want to shop how, when, and where they want, in an interaction with a retailer or brand that is seamless and consistent. In this new research, we identify the top hindrances for independent retailers and offer practical solutions that will empower them to make the most of the omnichannel selling environment."

The new report tackles key issues facing independent retailers including:
  • Inaccurate product availability: Small retailers struggle to "see" their inventory. Indeed, RSR found that only 8 percent of respondents with $250 million or less of revenue can see inventory levels across their business, and can promise with confidence that they can sell an item to consumers across multiple selling channels.
  • Poor product information:  According to RSR's 2016 benchmark on retailers' e-commerce strategies, smaller retailers are less worried about maintaining growth rates or uncertain consumer demand than their big company competitors. Independent retailers are instead struggling to find differentiation in a competitive market and keep up with evolving consumer shopping habits.
  • Unexpected fulfillment costs: The biggest, most invisible cost in fulfilling customer orders is handling. For many small businesses where family members are often the labor, it's easy to forget that labor is a cost. But time, as they say, is money, and if an employee is wandering aisles in a warehouse looking for inventory or struggling to figure out how to pack something for safe shipment, that is time better spent doing other things that could potentially drive more value for the business.
The research also revealed that data is both the greatest hope and the greatest obstacle for SMB retailers. According to RSR's research, 63 percent of SMB retailers rely on their operational systems to provide insights into their business — either directly through reports, or by dumping their data in Excel to do manual analysis. While even more retailers know this data is critical, they struggle with getting the date from their systems and into the other systems or applications where they need it, let alone gleaning actionable insights from that data. This new RSR research concludes with advice on how to make the most of your operational systems and unlock this powerful data.

"RSR is the preeminent analyst firm in the retail industry, and we are thrilled to bring their research and insights to small retailers," said Webgility founder and CEO Parag Mamnani. "We founded Webgility to make operations a competitive advantage rather than a headaches for SMBs. This new report will give our rapidly growing customer base--and the overall small retailers industry — actionable insights that will make their businesses better than ever."
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