Have you set yourself a New Year’s resolution? If you have, it’s going to require a lot of willpower – only 8% of people who start a new regime or kick a bad habit on 1st January are still on track at the end of the year.

We tend to think of resolutions as a personal goal, but there’s no reason that similar objectives shouldn’t be set in the professional environment. Particularly for retail, after the chaos of Christmas, January is an ideal time to take stock and move forward.

While every company’s ambitions will be subjective, iVend Retail has put together some core areas of focus for omnichannel retailers, to help them drive smoother, more profitable customer experiences in 2016.

  1. Focus on driving engagement in the store
    One important emerging trend in 2015 was the movement of traditionally online businesses offline – even Amazon dipped its toe in the water. The increasing fluidity with which retailers explore channels and touch points will heighten the need to bring online agility into the store in 2016.One key investment area will be mobile store technology; store associates should be able to do everything that online shopping does, including stock look-up, recommendations, ordering, payments and incentivization.
  2. Bring a human element to omnichannel integration
    Two years ago, the industry’s focus was on omnichannel strategy. Last year it was on omnichannel processes. This year, retailers must look to integrate back-end progress to date with their front-end customer service.To use the example of mobile POS again, all this data-driven capability is great in theory, but it’s useless in reality if the associate can’t or won’t use it. A disconnected bricks-and-mortar experience is better than a poorly attempted connected one. Personnel are the icing on the top of a structurally sound retail cake.
  3. Give the customer greater fulfilment flexibility
    As I mentioned in my 2015 key lessons blog, several major European retailers invested in their speed of delivery last year. However, successful omnichannel fulfilment in 2016 will rest on more than the time it takes to get goods to the customer.Shoppers will demand greater flexibility in the options open to them, and that means being able to offer click-and-collect, ship from store, home delivery – and of course universal returns.Achieving this is impossible without a single, centralized view of stock availability in all channels – and retailers may need to update legacy systems with new omnichannel retail solutions to achieve this transparency.
  4. Get your head in the cloud
    The level of agility that retailers will require in 2016 is almost impossible with on-site server solutions. Moving into the cloud is the quickest way to connect personnel across multiple sites with the core data they require, drawn from all operational channels.Every other resolution on this list relies on cloud-based technology. By enabling the complete sharing of data across the company, omnichannel retailers will be able to not only understand customer behavior better in the year ahead, but start tailoring experiences down to individual shopper level.

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