Omnichannel retail strategy: Laying the groundwork

Addressing the foundations required to build a successful omnichannel business

Omnichannel retail strategy: Laying the groundwork

The benefits are clear. Improved customer service through guided selling, greater personalisation, and faster transactions; streamlined store operations from real-time information sharing, enhanced customer interaction, and integration into existing processes and technologies. It’s time for an omnichannel strategy in your business.

Deploying an omnichannel experience requires several enabling technologies – a foundation to build your successes on. Now we address some of the key pieces of that foundation.

Preparing for deployment

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution is fundamental because it provides a way to customise the shopping experience to specific customers at both in-store and online transaction points. For example, personalised recommendations and loyalty programs can be tied to individuals.

Omnichannel complements several other major trends in retail – and these are the trends you should be preparing for. One is mobile payment, which allows customers to purchase products and services with mobile devices rather than cash, cheques, or credit cards. There can be no mistake – almost half (42%) of European customers want to see mobile payments in-store, driven by a wish for speed of payment (71%), reduced queue times (67%), and cashless transactions (66%)1.

Another trend that fits well with an omnichannel strategy is mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems. These enable in-store retail associates to conduct a variety of tasks, from decentralised sales transactions (called line/queue busting) to guided selling. mPOS systems are an important way to enhance the in-store channel, and tie back to the retailers’ capabilities.

Omnichannel is also enabled or enhanced by supporting technologies such as a distributed order management system, RFID tagging of merchandise, and in-store wireless services. Covering each of these additional technologies is beyond the scope of this blog post, or indeed series – but more broadly, retailers can evaluate any omnichannel-enabling solution based on three criteria.

Choosing the technology

What it comes down to should be the technology’s place in your business. Each retailer wishes to interact and engage with their customers, but each approach can be completely different.

Adaptability should be front of mind for decision-makers. It is critical as customer preferences and expectations evolve, new technologies emerge and become more readily available, and processes mature. Evolving retail technology will likely impact every component of omnichannel strategy.

Also consider scalability – mPOS system scalability means increasing the amount of different devices and transactions operating seamlessly at the same time.

Finally, think about what omnichannel is all about: integrated experiences ensure that a retailer’s key processes (e.g. customer management, inventory management, pricing control, web commerce, information security, branding, and customer service) are all integrated and tied together in a way that is seamless for the customer.

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1 Epson State of Retailing Study, Pan European Report, 2015