The Online, In-store and Mobile Omni-Channel Challenge
All retailers must make deliberate decisions on what to do next and agility will be crucial. Faster delivery, low friction transactions and excellent customer service are at the core of retail. There are no longer retailers that do multi-channel and those that don’t.
Today it is crucial for retailers to embrace total integration across the digital and in-store channels, made even more critical with the growth of click and collect and leading to fundamental changes to in-store design to cater for the extra volumes and increased warehousing and merchandising efficiency.
PoS as the hub – retailers will need to run a variety of customer-related aspects through their PoS touch points, using them as a hub through which they can push and pull a host of real time and accurate data, relevant product information and stock levels, as well as dealing with returns, issuing refunds and adjusting inventory levels across the channel mix.
Personalisation through blending digital and physical – a number of retailers have been trialling and rolling out applications such as GoInStore to connect in-store sales experts in the stores with online customers. Expert advice in the buying journey is important, but until recently online channels have only just caught up with plug-ins such as Live Chat.
A Blended Approach to Extending Choice
Extended choice through blending digital and physical – as retailers migrate to multi-channel retail management software systems, more and more are introducing digital in-store aisles to secure and cross-sell product sales.
Consumer’s see no barriers between channels only a single brand. Loyalty cards, clubs, points and all customer retention initiatives must today work seamlessly across all channels. Retailers must ensure 100% transaction and communication visibility whatever point of sale a customer chooses to engage with at a given time.
Across the entire retail world great customer experiences are top of the agenda. Shoppers are now taking technology for granted and expect retailers to offer flexible and convenient services that enable them to shop however they want, across any channel and at any time.
In fact, according to Worldpay, 92% would like to be able to check stock availability on a retailer’s website before they visit the store. The blurring of channels have been further fuelled by click and collect, providing customers with the greater choice offered online together with the convenience of trying and buying in-store. The introduction of the click and collect service has been highly successful for most of the UK’s big retail brands, with 43% of our consumers (and 52% of the 21-35 year olds) agreeing that it means they now shop online more.
If retailers don’t adopt a truly omni-channel approach, they risk losing their competitive edge. Consumers expect to be able to shop on their terms, and see buying as one experience regardless of channel.
Three Key questions for the Omni-Channel Approach
1. Can you offer better shopping experiences than your competition?
2. Are you using technology to enhance the customer journey across channels?
3. How integrated and consistent is your online and offline experience?
A Seamless, Reconnected Multi-Channel Experience
The KPMG/IPOS Retail Think Tank suggests that retailers will be further challenged to adapt business models and find new ways to better serve customers.
“Retailers will aim to deliver what we would describe as a seamless multi-channel customer experience where the shopper is supported and served irrespective of the mixture of channels they use,” says Martin Newman, CEO of Practicology.
Fulfilling this reconnected omni-channel experience profitably cannot be done from systems and processes designed for just one or two channels, which means there is likely to be more investment in technology, mobile, fulfilment options and convenience for consumer in the future.
“The rising costs involved in providing an attractive and efficient omni-channel service is a growing threat that must be managed carefully. I see this as the biggest single issue for retailers at the moment,” says Richard Lowe, Head of London, Barclays Corporate Banking.
Cloud based retail management platforms will become key to successfully orchestrating a connected omni-channel experience in real time with the agility, scalability and stability to act an intelligent data core across all departments and retail channels.
“The technology drive is integral to future. Stripping out complexity on the one hand, to make shopping easier and quicker, and adding intelligence on the other, to make it more personal and rewarding. Bringing intelligence of current customer behaviour to the heart of the business, making big data effective to deliver on-demand service through retail analytics will be instrumental in making retailers more agile and responsive. “ Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence, Ipos Retail Performance.