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In the midst of major online retail competitors such as Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores are learning to stay competitive by offering buy-online-pickup-in-store, or BOPIS. Its popularity particularly skyrocketed around the 2018 holiday season, with a 47% increase from the beginning of November to mid-December alone. Why? because the brick-and-mortar store helps facilitate a better, and often faster, customer experience.

BOPIS has allowed retailers to increase customer loyalty and spending, but its popularity has also made buy-online-return-in-store, or BORIS, transactions, more prevalent. Research shows that online sales returned to brick-and-mortar stores account for an average of 10.7% of all online sales, and it’s estimated that these numbers will only continue to increase. It’s obvious that the days of single-channel returns are gone, and that consumers are browsing in a variety of ways: online, at a physical store, and even through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Because of this, it’s hard to say just what channel a consumer will use to 1) make the purchase, and if needed, 2) return the purchase.

Managing omnichannel returns can be difficult. Often the sales systems are separate, making real-time receipt verification impossible. Instead of building expensive modifications into their legacy systems, retailers can turn to a hosted, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. Returns can be consolidated across channels in a seamless, real-time process that helps prevent loss while keeping customer satisfaction high. A SaaS solution can also be implemented in a fraction of the time.  

8 reasons why SaaS is the perfect fit for omnichannel retail:

  1. Bridges brick-and-mortar and alternative channels. Many retailers are using data that is siloed by channel: ecommerce, mobile and brick-and-mortar purchasing options are all available to a consumer, yet retailers may have separate access to each channel’s transaction data. Integrating the data is possible, but it may take years and involve a complete overhaul of existing systems. A SaaS solution can help the returns end of things by centralizing return transaction data, which means the data can easily correlate returns from several channels and retailer systems. Putting a solution like this in place can play a large role in shrink management for omnichannel retailers, especially in BORIS situations.
  2. SaaS means a single interface. One of the best aspects of implementing a SaaS return authorization solution for omnichannel retail is that it can support any existing process in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar or alternative channel business. The interface is straightforward and can accommodate RMAs or online registration as well, should they be used. Suddenly, BORIS transactions that may have not seemed accurate before across your various channels can become clear, correct, and faster to analyze than ever before.
  3. Speedy and cost-effective deployment. Fraud doesn’t wait around. The longer you wait to deploy a return authorization solution, the more you are at risk. SaaS solutions are great for omnichannel retailers since they are quick to get up and running and can be used for BORIS and single-channel returns alike from a single location in the cloud. The SaaS solution provider will handle the hardware and software maintenance. The retailer does not need to buy servers, which lowers overall cost of hardware investment.
  4. Experience with diverse data formats. A good SaaS return authorization solution will be able to receive and use data from many sources to look up receipts, monitor consumers, and provide management reports.
  5. Can create customized models. Having quick access to data that is relevant to return authorization will allow you to distinguish the purchase channel and offer an appropriate policy. For example, consumers may need more time to make returns when purchasing clothing online due to common sizing issues. A SaaS return authorization solution will be able to detect those differences and adjust to the correct policies.
  6. Consumer support assistance. A good SaaS solution vendor should offer you additional support for dealing with omnichannel returns including receipt text, signage, policies listed on web sites, notices on mailed invoices, messaging for store employees, declarations in catalogs, public access to return histories, consumer call support, and dispute resolution.
  7. Transaction speed at the time of return. Consumers never want to wait, even while they are getting a refund. No matter what channel, your SaaS solution of choice should authorize returns in milliseconds, making the return easy on both employees and consumers.
  8. Proficient in security and compliance. The vendor you choose should be ISO 27001 compliant and up-to-date on legislative requirements.

The opportunity to sell across many channels and reach new consumer bases, as well as the opportunity for consumers to shop in ways that are convenient for them, has made omnichannel retail an exciting time for consumers and retailers alike. By choosing to implement a SaaS return authorization solution, you can continue to offer a great omnichannel experience to your consumers while also reducing your risk for return fraud.

Learn more about the benefits of a SaaS deployment.

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Leslie Nienaber, Digital Marketing Manager, Appriss Retail 

Leslie researches business trends and distills the information for a retail audience. Her marketing experience has covered a wide variety of industries, including promotional products, microbiology, print, and mail. She spent five years in the retail industry before graduating with her Bachelors in Business Administration from John Carroll University.

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