We are living in a digital age where the smartphone is ubiquitous and technology has democratised people’s life experiences. No matter your interests technology has created a world where everyone is demanding newer, smarter, interconnected experiences and the world of retail is no different.
Shoppers now expect a unified shopping experience with the brands and retailers they love. However, for retailers, the abundance of technologies and solutions now out there can be a minefield. Retailers know that they want to create an omni-channel strategy that hits all the available consumer touchpoints out there, but often struggle with understanding all of the options. The question on every retailer’s lips is – what is the best omni-channel strategy and what is the simplest way to integrate online and offline into a single experience?
In order to do this retailers must first understand the tools and technologies that are out there, and the benefits they offer.
What is Omni-channel?
Firstly, let’s consider the term “omni-channel” as it stands on its own. The word “omni” means “universal” or “all”, therefore an “omni-channel” strategy must incorporate all channels – and that is not the retailer’s channels, it is the consumer’s channels. It requires a rethink that unifies disparate inventory and marketing services into a single linked platform that creates consistent control across the board as well as the adding of new modes of reaching the customer that meet their wants and desires.
An “omni-channel” strategy should look to utilise the latest tools and technologies to build a customer engagement environment that connects multiple silos such as product information, promotions, Point-of-Sale and customer engagement so that a single view can be created to the business benefit of the retailer. Once this single view has been created all new data sources can be added and the whole system can be seen as one. There is much discussion about creating a single view of a customer, but it also reigns true for the retailer.
Unifying & Personalising the Experience
Converging the online and instore experience into a single entity is important. Retailers can now leverage multiple opportunities to drive a more personalised experience in-store by use the unique tech-tools that are now at hand. From web-based kiosks to retail apps, adding a digital aspect to your instore strategy creates a seamless and unified customer engagement that continues even when they leave the store.
By the Power of Social Networking
No retailer can ignore the influence of social media in today’s modern society. Not only does it allow retailers a glimpse into the unique lives and interests of their customers, but it also offers them a chance to market directly to those customers through in-feed advertisements and suggested posts. Adding social functions to mobile and online websites also adds another bonus. By allowing customers to share their purchases retailers are tapping into the power of the consumer to market products on the retailer’s behalf.
What is clear is that understanding and adopting omni-channel is a necessity for all retailers, particularly those larger companies that have traditionally dominated the high street but are now finding themselves outdone by online competitors.
The customer is key – and it is only through providing the customer with retail services in the manner to which they have become accustomed in other areas of their lives that retailers will find success.
It is time to re-engineer the entire retail eco-system with the new digital toolbox that is now at retailers’ disposal.