Why is omnichannel the focus of retail?
The short answer to this is because it’s what the customer wants, and never has the old adage “the customer is always right” been so apt or so accurate as in the consumer-centric world in which we now live.
Customers want the convenience of the online world with the ability to browse, choose and pay in the comfort of their own homes, and with the rapid rise of m-commerce the freedom to do these things beyond the confines of their houses – out into the dynamic world’s that they inhabit.
However physical retail is far from dead, and despite the online hysteria surrounding online, still commands by far the largest portion of the retail pie. In fact physical shopping is being discovered and enjoyed by new generations weened and raised on the internet as well as once more by the shopping stalwarts from more halcyon days of foot-soldier consumerism. Stores are having to change, notably in their reduced numbers, to become theatres and brand entertainers, re-inventing shopping journeys as fun and vibrant full of product interaction, literally brought to life with customer service and brand engagement.
The glue, in this multi-layered commercial cake, is the complex world of social media, with its evolving recipe of information, inspiration, personalisation, endorsement and advertising streamed directly into the receptive minds of consumers whenever, and wherever they want, as well as its increasing evolution into a direct sales channel in its own right.
The reality of the retail model for us now and into the future is this symbiotic inter-channel relationship, the seamless customer journey through any number of interactions on our phones, tablets, computers, and with all our senses directly within physical stores.
The customer demands nothing less.
The operational and technological challenges of omnichannel
Making omnichannel work represents an enormous sequence of challenges for retailers with technology and operations at the heart of success. The flow of product from supplier to retailer to customer via multiple points of selection, collection and possible return is no less daunting that the flow of sales data, availability information and customer feedback passing in the opposite direction from sales and service interfaces to the control functions of both retailer & supplier.
However, in todays saturated retail markets, brands cannot simply be functional and efficient to succeed but must also deliver coordinated emotional & commercial experiences for the customer as they make their unpredictable journey across channels and touchpoints.
The essentially emotional omnichannel
The proliferation of pureplay retailers, the consolidation of physical stores and the mass migration of formats from all origins into the omnichannel arena is creating a homogenious and overloaded choice of brands, retail conduits and delivery options.
Omnichannel retail brands, more than ever, require differentiation.
The power that will propel the new retail winners is the communication of a clear and engaging brand proposition, delivered consistently through every touchpoint of every channel.
The new priority questions being asked of omnichannel are:
- is my opportunity to build stronger brand perceptions?
- is my opportunity to improve my individual channel deliveries?
- is my opportunity to better coordinate my cross-channel customer journeys?
- is my opportunity to deliver better touchpoints wherever?
In response to this retail revolution, VM-Unleashed & Tisserlis have developed “omnichannel unveiled” as a benchmarking process to answer the many questions and dilemnas for retailers wrestling with omnichannel customer journeys and experiences, from whichever origination they have come.
In the complex crosswinds of seemingly endless technological possibilities, what every retail business needs now is a calm focus on its omnichannel opportunities – a focus with improved performance and return on investment at the centre.
Omnichannel-unveiled aims to reveal the realities of the strengths and weaknesses of any retailer’s multi-channel touchpoints and to devise a focused plan for realistic and sustainable improvements.
omnichannel-unveiled is a benchmarking & assessment process carried out by retail experts analysing how well a retail brand delivers & communicates its market position and its commercial & emotional propositions across channels.
It involves analysis of touchpoints across physical stores, e-commerce, m-commerce & social media platforms highlighting opportunities for improved customer experience perceptions & retail sales performance
omnichannel-unveiled is not just a number scraping or data crunching exercise but a process that coordinates quantitative analysis and qualitative assessment to define the success and opportunities of any retail brand delivery within the context of its market positioning.
If you’re interested in the future, nay the present, of your omnichannel retail business…why not take a look