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What is Endless Aisle and Why is it Vital for Scaling in Retail?

Endless Aisle is the answer to the omnichannel retail conundrum: consumers are shying away from the larger department stores, and yet they expect the smaller stores to have everything in stock. This could be attributed to the prominence of online shopping, however the instant gratification that online shoppers have become accustomed to has left the expectation that the smaller stores should have exactly what consumers are looking for, so they can walk in and get what they want now. Not next week, not next month; now.

What is Endless Aisle?

Endless Aisle rectifies the dilemma above by marrying online with offline, so that consumers can access a wider array of products from a physical store. This can serve to prevent disappointment in those who made the special effort to visit in person. This typically comes in the form of allowing click and collect – in which consumers can order online and collect from a store.

In addition to avoiding disappointment, it can also encourage people to visit local physical stores in the first place. An example of this is US retailer Target’s use of live stock lookup features. This feature allows consumers to verify that their local store has what they’re looking for before they’ve even left to visit the store.

Another example is UK retailer Debenhams. The company rolled out a system allowing consumers to purchase stock stored in either their physical stores or collection centres, thus improving customer fulfilment. Upon full implementation of the initiative, Debenhams reported £10 million in sales that would have otherwise been lost to understocking and limited local store inventory.

Miya Knights touched on this during Zynstra’s recent lunch event for Transforming Retail & Hospitality Branch IT, highlighting the need for retail branches to ensure they have the IT infrastructure necessary to run such systems for customer satisfaction:

Hybrid IT

Such omni-channel innovations, which are now becoming key to driving growth and revenue in retail businesses, require a robust, versatile IT infrastructure that combines the security of on-premise with the economics and flexibility of the Cloud. Roger Sowerbutts – VP EMEA at Zynstra – highlighted the technical requirements of running a full omnichannel retail/hospitality business recently at our event. Rather than focusing solely on finding a cheaper alternative to one’s current IT, Roger encouraged the audience to think of their infrastructure as a tool for enabling a more connected, efficient form of branch IT for a better customer experience.

Roger went on to stress the importance of having a versatile Hybrid IT system in this new age of ‘declouding’ – the latest buzzword of the IT sector. Roger gives a scenario that many IT professionals are all too familiar with: a business abandons all on-premise, physical servers in favour of the Cloud, only to realize how vulnerable they are when the Cloud fails. This is quite evident considering Amazon’s latest outage, causing widespread panic and disruption. Such issues can cause real problems within your branches – no customer likes to be told that there’s absolutely no way to process their payments because the IT systems have been rendered useless by a mere connection failure.

Transforming Retail & Hospitality IT Webinar

For those who missed this event and wish to get more insights from Planet Retail and Zynstra, we will be hosting a webinar to re-cap on the key talks and points raised on Wednesday the 22nd of March at 11am GMT. Click here to register.

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