Omnichannel retail strategy: the impact on business
How will an omnichannel retail strategy impact your business?
Consumers worldwide continue to adopt and use technology in their shopping experience. Faced with rising customer expectations and increasing competitive pressures, retailers now are prioritising in-store innovation. Many retailers have adopted multichannel implementations, in which mobile, web, and in-store shopping are enabled – but not delivered consistently to the customer. The next step in this evolution is an omnichannel strategy, now being deployed by some retailers, which presents a consistent shopping experience across all channels.
Here we’ll be explaining the impact a considered omnichannel strategy can have on your business – and why your customers will value you for it.
Omnichannel impacts two primary aspects of the retail business.
The first, customer experience, is a key difference between multichannel and omnichannel. That’s because omnichannel presents a consistently branded theme and experience to shoppers across all channels. Importantly, omnichannel is not the technology itself, but rather a seamless customer experience from initial recognition through all stages of the purchase cycle. Technology is the enabler to host this experience and adds unique value via personalisation – something critical to brand perception for 50% of European consumers1.
The second aspect impacted is store operations. Omnichannel integrates back-end technologies that are key to operations including: inventory, payment systems, asset management, personnel systems, logistics and fulfillment, and customer loyalty programs. This integration brings opportunities for enhanced and improved operations across the enterprise. For instance, many retailers today cannot process the return of items purchased online at regular in-store POS systems. Tying together back-end systems will enable customers to return purchases made online at physical stores, without the need for segregated in-store and e-commerce transaction systems.
Retail in real time
Harnessing today’s customer expectations and consumer mobile technologies enables what’s being called real-time retail (RTR) – the process of engaging, informing and influencing customers while they shop online and in-store. Examples include: guided selling, using social media, personalised promotions and Bluetooth beacon technology to assist customers based on real-time interactions; flexible checkout, leveraging mPOS systems to decentralise payment; and cloud-based services, offering centralised resources such as systems, data and analytics to employees and customers.
So, the omnichannel experience offers countless benefits for customers, including:
- Seamless branded shopping experiences across all channels; critical to more than half (54%) of customers1
- Integrated consumer technology
- Flexible payment
- Faster transactions; critical to 49% of customers1
For in-store operations, benefits include:
- Real-time information
- Enhanced customer interaction
- Higher transaction rate
- Improved customer engagement and personalisation
And all it takes for your business to start reaping these benefits is to integrate an omnichannel strategy. Next we cover how to lay the groundwork for deployment.
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1 Epson State of Retailing Study, Pan European Report, 2015