Smart retailers know that today’s consumers expect the availability and convenience of multiple paths to purchase — even using multiple touchpoints for a single purchase.
You likely have a website with online ordering and a customer service chat feature, a customer service telephone line, loyalty cards, digital marketing, social media accounts, and a mobile app to augment your brick-and-mortar business.
But, like many retailers, you may have adopted each of these channels separately over the years as the technology evolved and your budget allowed. A multichannel approach in which each channel is managed individually means you’re likely doing twice the work at half the efficiency. Omnichannel retail eliminates the barriers between channels and creates a single retail ecosystem.
Omni Channel Retailing Definition
Omnichannel retail is the next generation of multichannel, and it’s all about integrating the various retail systems used to sell products on the backend to create a seamless customer experience on the front end. The goal of omnichannel retailing is to enhance customer engagement by giving shoppers a consistent experience across all platforms.
Today’s ultra-connected consumers are more likely to hop between devices and channels when making a purchase. They might start online on a phone, PC/laptop, or tablet to research an item, and then either order it online or head to the store.
Or, they could start at the store and use your mobile app to check availability of an item at other store locations. If your channels are managed separately, and your online orders don’t Synch with your in-store sales, your inventory information will be unreliable.
Similarly, integrated channels mean having a centralised database of customer information, so that details about their purchases and interactions with your store are available consistently to all service representatives, whether on the telephone, through web chat, or in-store.
Meeting customers’ expectations of a seamless experience is key to retention. According to research by Aberdeen Group Inc., companies with weak omnichannel strategies only retain an average of 33% of their customers — but for companies with strong omnichannel engagement, that retention average rises to 89%.
6 Customer Benefits from Omnichannel Retailing
What do customers want from an omnichannel environment? Here are some of their expectations for a seamless experience:
How to Implement Retail Channel Omnification
Making your multichannel approach truly omnichannel is a good strategy, because customers have come to expect it and can always go elsewhere if they don’t find it. And adopting it doesn’t have to be difficult, because the tools are available that make integration easier than ever. Look for a point of sale (POS) system that has open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Open APIs give retailers the ultimate flexibility to adapt their systems, create custom modules, and integrate functionalities seamlessly.
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