Omni-Channel: More Than a Buzzword

Omni-Channel: More Than a Buzzword

The hype surrounding new technological developments has a way of sweeping entire industries up into a complete frenzy.

It’s no surprise then that some thought that omni-channel retailing was just the latest industry buzzword.

However, those that thought it was a passing fad were mistaken.

The reality is, true omni-channel retailing – not simply multi-channel retailing – is now the foundation for maximizing sales and profitability in the retail environment.

Industry experts and analysts are telling retailers of all sizes that in order to survive they need to deliver a seamless experience across all channels, allowing customers to shop how, where and when they want.

The retailers that have effectively created an omni-channel experience are surviving. The ones that haven’t are dying off.

While brand failures don’t happen overnight, the dark cloud surrounding struggling brands like Caché, Coach and Wet Seal should prove to be a warning for other retailers to re-think how they deliver omni-channel customer experiences.

The Omni-Channel Struggle

Too many consumers are being left frustrated by retailers’ inability to meet consumer shopping expectations both online and in-store.

This is because consumers are now channel-agnostic. They don’t see a difference between channels; their buying decisions are based on price, service, convenience and brand.

For instance, 71% of shoppers expect to be able to view available in-store inventory online, but only 32% of retailers offer this capability.

And 50% of consumers expect retailers to have click and collect services, yet only 3% can provide them.

Nordstrom and Macy’s, two retailers that are leading the pack when it comes to omni-channel initiatives, are redeveloping every aspect of their businesses in order to provide a seamless shopping experience.

For example, Nordstrom offers inventory transparency across channels and Macy’s is now focusing on click and collect and same-day delivery services.

Overcoming Omni-Channel Barriers

Retailers’ inability to implement full omni-channel retailing strategies is exposing how significant the barriers are to integrating channels due to siloed legacy systems.

Retailers have used channels as a frame in an attempt to organize and operate in an increasingly disruptive environment, but that system isn’t working anymore and retailers know it.

In fact, 35% of retailers believe that the lack of technology spanning all channels is one of their biggest obstacles to success – meaning technology is an essential component in abolishing the antiquated siloed channel systems that prevent the sharing of customer data and analytics.

However, achieving a single, channel-agnostic view of the customer is inherently complex.

And to offer a truly omni-channel experience, retailers need to leverage the data gleaned from every possible customer touchpoint to paint a detailed picture of customer behavior.

This in turn will enable retailers to build better, smarter interactions at every point of engagement, creating a shopping experience tailored to every single customer and how he or she shops.

The Bottom Line

Omni-channel retailing is about delivering the full customer experience, both online and in-store, and it’s starting to dawn on retailers that if they haven’t already implemented this strategy, they’re behind.

The retailers that will successfully emerge from the retail revolution will be the ones who realize the first step to defining and shaping an omni-channel strategy is knowing who their customer is, not just the so called “average” customer.

It’s no longer an option that can wait “until next year.”

If you need help creating a unified view of your customers and an omni-channel strategy, then we should talk.

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