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Elements of a hybrid marketplace

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Hybrid markets offer tangible and powerful options for customers who want immediate gratification from local retailers.

In the famous Seinfeld scene, he stands at the rental car counter and says that the car rental company doesn’t have his car, even though he has a reservation. “The problem is knowing how to get an appointment,” jokes the comedian. I just don’t know how to make a reservation. That’s the most important part of booking. ”

New hybrid shopping models potentially retain the same leeway for failed orders, as shown in the Seinfeld booking sketch. But with some planning and forethought, the new model presents an opportunity for companies to embrace.

When the pandemic-induced shutdowns hit in March 2020, many businesses found themselves stranded with nothing to do but close their doors. Businesses that already accept selling to customers both in-store and online can continue to expect revenue from their online store. However, most models called for revenue to flow through the door as well as the portal.

The easing of the pandemic has done little to change the minds of customers who feared the dangers of an invisible enemy. Do you remember how your customers felt nine months after the pandemic? A December 2020 study by in-store experience platform Raydiant asked whether the success of vaccines would lead to more in-person shopping. When asked, respondents said “no” (28%) or “don’t know” (22%). If the findings are accurate, it could mean that half of the overall market may never fully return to in-person shopping.

But that was over two years ago and there has been no official vaccine rollout. As my colleague Scott Clark reported last November, 64% of shoppers interviewed by product review firm Bazaarvoice said the new hybrid model was their primary way of shopping, and that’s been the case for the past six months. said there was.

Emergence of new hybrid markets

The pandemic has only created a new kind of market. As stores and businesses began to reopen, new kinds of commerce began. This is a hybrid model where customers place an order online and drive to the store to pick up their purchase, either by walking into the store (store pickup) or having it delivered to their car (curbside pickup).

Outdoor retailer REI is one company that has seen an opportunity in curbside retail. Company leaders felt more and more people were turning to nature for their physical and mental well-being, and the company wanted to be there to serve them. May 2020 In May, just two months after the closure order, CEO Eric Artz announced that half of REI’s 179 stores would offer curbside pickup.

REI spokesperson Megan Behrbaum said the roadside transition will require many changes beyond the technical changes required. “We had to train our retail team and work with landlords and local health authorities at all locations,” she said.

However, REI still offers curbside pickup and is expanding to nearly all of its stores, so it was worth all the effort.

UK-based Vodafone, which has over 15,000 stores worldwide, said in its Fit for the Future Report that 75% of businesses expect their customers to be able to interact with them anytime, anywhere via digital devices. made it clear.

The hybrid model is the best model for both consumers and businesses. Consumers enjoy the convenience of online shopping and the immediate gratification of having their purchases within hours instead of overnight. In addition, the new hybrid model almost always avoids shipping charges and delays, failing the job of Porch Pirates. The business is happy to serve its new hybrid customer base.

But what changes did companies have to make to accommodate this new model? It depended on the business and how connected their systems were already. For all of them, it was a combination of technology interfacing with human processes.

Lauren Tillman, director of omnichannel operations for home decor superstore At Home, had a lot to think about for the chain’s 250 stores in 40 states. The company initially rolled out curbside pickup at several test locations to ensure the process was in place and documented. “The biggest hurdle was making sure all the technical components were working properly and the customer experience was intuitive and easy to use,” she says.

One of the technical hurdles At Home faced was building notifications into their order management system (OMS) to support in-store pickup. At Home discovered that their OMS platform, Manhattan Active Omni, had already built the functionality as part of the base code, allowing the IT team to quickly deploy notifications. From there, the company created a page on its site to identify where customers parked in the parking lot.

Curbside usage has decreased somewhat as the pandemic has eased, but At Home continues to serve.

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