Omnichannel Retail: Solving the Puzzle
Retailers today seek to deliver an inspiring, seamless brand experience to consumers across all channels — online, in-store, mobile, call centers and social media. For consumers, the promise of omnichannel retailing is a consistent brand experience based on easy, fast access to the information they need and the products and offers they want.
For retailers, it's about making that happen by unifying data and applications, managing transactions and customer engagement uniformly across the enterprise, and analyzing performance within and across channels, while simplifying the task of retail enterprise management. In essence, it's about enabling omnichannel visibility and functionality at both the front- and back-end of the business.
The rewards are substantial. Omnichannel customers spend at least 30 percent more than their single-channel counterparts. Customers delighted by their experience buy more, come back more and celebrate the brand more, and retailers that are better able to understand and respond to what's happening across channels can refine their planning strategies and merchandising practices more effectively to boost margins and reduce costs.
Attaining this omnichannel "nirvana" isn't an easy task, however. When retailers began to support multiple channels — each with myriad customer and operational needs — many were forced to deploy different technology platforms to address those requirements. With different channels operating as separate autonomous entities, retail operations become siloed, fracturing the shopping and brand experiences they were intended to support. Many retailers have been left with a legacy of inefficiency and lack of operational visibility, while their customers are frustrated by the effort it takes to simply get what they want when and how they want it. Today, that's a legacy no retailer can afford.
Start With Integration
To break free of that legacy, retailers must begin by enabling one view of the customer, one view of product and one view of orders across all consumer touchpoints by integrating core systems and functions.
Then integration must move beyond the one-view paradigm and address virtually all systems and processes — i.e., the extended omnichannel environment. Integration must include how orders are routed to stores and warehouses for ease of fulfillment. Integration points must extend to merchandising systems so available-to-promise inventory is accurate. One promotion engine should be established to service multiple channels, along with one CRM system to collect and process shopping and purchase data from all channels.
The list is endless, but the potential sharing and reuse of people, processes and technology that can be achieved through an integrated channel strategy can greatly improve a retailer's cost structure. That's the role integration plays — making the parts greater as a whole.
Retooling Point of Sale
Point-of-sale (POS) systems have always served and continue to serve as the primary sales transaction system, but in recent years the addition of more advanced features and functionality, including mobility, have re-engineered POS solutions for the omnichannel retail world. Clunky registers are being replaced by sleek iPads and other tablet devices, which empower store associates to deliver an efficient, personalized and thoroughly inspired customer experience. With access to rich, value-added customer and product information, store associates can offer more value-added consultative shopping experiences by recommending products and even by sharing online experiences such as videos and reviews in-store.
Cross-channel order visibility, status updates and stock locator queries, executed by both associates and consumers directly, enable retailers to offer the fruits of the "endless aisle." Enterprise selling or "save the sale" functionality ensures shoppers’ needs can be met from anywhere across a retail enterprise. Customer satisfaction levels remain high as needs are quickly met and shoppers are assured with detailed timing as to when their purchases will arrive. Likewise, retailers increase revenues, address demand and maximize inventory turns.