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Best Buy spurs omnichannel purchases with real-time in-app inventory filter

Shoppers on the Best Buy application can now filter their searches by which products are available for pickup that day at a store, pointing to the growing importance of real-time inventory insight for driving omnichannel shopping experiences.

With shoppers increasingly researching items from their phones and then making a purchase at a store, savvy retailers are looking for easy to make this experience as seamless as possible. However, it is necessary to back-end inventory and keep order management operations up-to-date to enable filters such as Best Buy’s, something that not all retailers have accomplished yet.

Filters like the one used in the Best Buy app are the natural evolution of the omnichannel retail experience,” said Aaron Shook, lab technology officer at PointSource.

“Achieving success in this area is all about making the purchase as painless as possible for the customer, and mobile features like this filter do just that,” he said.

Omnichannel shopping
A growing number of bricks-and-mortar retailers are introducing order online, pick up in-store programs. The savviest ones recognize the key role mobile plays in driving these omnichannel experiences, as so much of consumers’ product research now takes place on their smartphones.

By enabling mobile shoppers to easily filter their product searches to find what is available for pickup the same day, Best Buy is supporting shoppers’ need for instant gratification and may even drive impulse purchases once customers are in the store.

Such a filter would not be possible without having the right back-end inventory and order management systems in place.

“The functionality needed to enable this feature has been widely available for years through various order management software solutions, but these solutions are often fairly expensive and come with lengthy and disruptive implementation timelines,” Mr. Shook said.

“Forward-thinking retailers who have invested in order management will continue to reduce the friction of the omnichannel purchasing experience by delivering features like this one,” he said.

“Having accurate, up-to-the-minute information on fulfillment is increasingly critical as the line between ecommerce and brick and mortar continues to blur.”

A numbers game
Retailers continue to look for ways to streamline in-app navigation and search so users can quickly get in, find what they want and get out.

For example, Amazon’s menu on its iPhone application has a new design to make it easier to use, including the ability to swipe left for easy access and a new settings section where users can easily see notifications from the online retailer (see story).

JCPenney recently simplified browsing and checking out while making its latest omnichannel service – Buy Online, Pick Up in Store Same Day – available to users (see story).

“Conversion funnels are a numbers game,” Mr. Shook said. “Smart retailers are constantly introducing new functionality and user experiences and measuring the impact of these capabilities with analytics and A/B tests.

“Features that don’t positively impact conversion can then be abandoned quickly in favor of technical investments with stronger impacts on top line revenue,” he said.