Omnichannel Retailing: Definition, Benefits, Implementation

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.

Omnichannel Retailing: Definition, Benefits, Implementation
Omnichannel Retail Management Solutions
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What is Omnichannel Retail?

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 sync 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:

  1. Store employees who are knowledgeable about online products as well as what’s on the shelves, and who can check inventory and place orders for the customer;
  2. Customer service representatives — whether on chat, social media messaging, mobile app, in person on the phone, or in-store — who have access to all the same information;
  3. The ability to return or exchange online purchases at the store, or to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS)/click and collect or buy online ship to store (BOSS);
  4. An online shopping experience that is consistent across all devices: smartphone, tablet, desktop, or laptop (same interface, same processes);
  5. Inventory levels that accurately report both online and in-store availability;
  6. Loyalty rewards that are managed and applied consistently regardless of the final purchase method.

How to Implement Omnichannel Retailing

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.

iVend Retail’s global team of business experts offers retail solutions with open APIs to help you create an omnichannel environment that will keep your customers coming back and keep your business growing. For more information, contact iVend Retail.

As Vice President of Global Marketing, Mia is responsible for providing leadership and executing on marketing initiatives for CitiXsys globally. She brings 10 years of marketing experience for B2B and B2C technology companies in the retail, supply chain and food & beverage sectors. Her expertise lies in developing award-winning content and delivering data-driven demand generation campaigns. Mia works closely with regional sales teams to develop strategies for demand generation and has a keen eye for regional marketplace variances having worked in the USA and abroad in Africa & Latin America.

Mia Farber