News Feature | January 10, 2014

Belk Chooses Accenture To Aid In Omni-Channel Transformation

Source: Retail Solutions Online
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By Anna Rose Welch, Editorial & Community Director, Advancing RNA

Company will invest $200 million in its plan to upgrade fulfillment, mobile, and analytics capabilities

Belk recently announced its plans to invest $200 million to upgrade its omni-channel presence over the next five years. The department store is calling this upgrade the “Omni-channel Transformation Initiative,” and through it, the company will be able to reach out to customers and provide them with a seamless experience in-store, online, and via mobile. CEO John Belk says, “Customers have many ways to choose to shop with us, and this project helps us ensure our brand, our service, and our fashion assortments are reflected across all channels.”

Four Benefits Of Omni-Channel Retailing

The company has been working on building its omni-channel identity for a while now. Back in February, the company hired Dorlissa Flur to be its EVP of omni-channel to lead a team of IT, e-commerce, and stores representatives.

Now, in order to develop the seamless customer omni-channel experience customers are looking for, Belk has chosen Accenture’s Seamless Retail Services. Accenture will help Belk ensure that online customers have access to accurate and updated inventories for products in-store and online. This should help cut down on lost sales, if a product appears to be out of stock at a specific location. This enhancement will also better enable the company to implement a “ship from store” initiative, which has grown increasingly popular with retailers lately looking to deliver online orders more efficiently. Accenture will also aid in the implementation of a new digital platform and improve the company’s online presence and its analytics capabilities.

This announcement comes roughly two months after the company reported its third quarter financials, which boasted a 3.5 percent increase in comparable store sales and a 45 percent increase in e-commerce sales. November was the “go live” month for a new technology platform, which, according to CEO Belk, included changes to the IT infrastructure and a new merchandising system. Like many new things, “going live” had its hitches, and unfortunately the company encountered some e-commerce difficulties at an important time. As many customers turned online this holiday season, a large amount of online traffic on Black Friday overwhelmed the company’s e-commerce site and caused “intermittent outages” that kept customers from completing orders and checking out in time to use special discounts.

Regardless, the company is doing its best to keep growing as an omni-channel retailer to better meet consumers’ needs. As an Accenture Seamless Retail Study released in April revealed, 49 percent of consumers find that the best thing a retailer can do to improve customer experience is to better integrate the mobile, in-store, and online channels. Roughly 90 percent of consumers reported that retailers should do all they can to provide customers with all the tools they need to have the most convenient shopping experience, regardless of channel. And clearly, Belk customers are turning online, considering the company’s digital business grew by 45 percent in the third quarter. 

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