As online and offline channels sync and customer journeys become non-linear, a unified cart will be a key enabler for driving seamles shopping experiences.
Retailers need to factor a lot of business decisions to deliver on the promise of a seamless experience:
1. Implementing unified or channel-specific pricing and promotions
While retailers can seamlessly orchestrate omnichannel order fulfillment and delivery, promotions are still channel-specific and inconsistent, driven by disparate and constrained platforms. Similarly, most retailers apply different prices for online and for stores (based on the trading area or associated holding costs) to protect margins. A unified cart must be configured based on the retailer’s pricing strategy.
2. Honoring the original price of items in the online cart or applying a new price
Let’s assume a shopper comes across an interesting online promotion. She adds the item to the cart but abandons it. However, when the customer drops in at the store, she notices the same product is sold at the regular price. By default, the customer may expect the retailer to honor the lowest price. The retailer can either honor the lowest price or make a personalized offer based on the context and previous purchase history. Offering a 5% discount on diapers to a new mother will be more relevant than offering a 10% discount on kitchen utensils.
3. Notifying customers about inventory status
For various reasons, safety threshold levels may be different for different items—either there is a promotion on a particular item and the product is disappearing fast or the retailer has terminated a vendor contract for a particular item in the unified cart. A unified cart must offer visibility into inventory levels and have the ability to trigger alerts such as ‘low in stock,’ ‘only one item left,’ ‘no longer available,’ or ‘back in stock’ based on the inventory position.
4. Handling inactivity in carts
Products lying dormant for too long in customers’ unified carts are a huge problem for retailers. Retailers must have the ability to configure nudges (for example, a personalized promotion or reminder) after a specific period of inactivity or remove items from the cart. However, with customers wanting to ‘own’ their digital carts, it is a case for debate: should retailers remove the items and risk losing a sale or retain the items at the risk of high maintenance costs and effort?
In Part 2, we will explore how scan-and-go is driving the self-serve omnichannel experiences that modern customers seek.