Why Merchants Need to Be in Control of Their Omnichannel Strategy
At the core of omnichannel strategy, retailers are positioned to better serve their customers, strengthen overall brand experience and provide a seamless shopping journey across all paths to purchase.
This said, many small to midsize merchants continue to wonder if omnichannel is obtainable for their businesses. Fortunately, omnichannel is more accessible than ever to retailers of all sizes thanks to dynamic technologies that help merchants deliver optimized omnichannel strategies, ultimately delivering a unified brand presence across multiple channels. This enables retailers to finally get ahead in their business and stay relevant in the increasingly competitive retail landscape.
To help merchants further understand the dynamics to omnichannel, Brightpearl developed a unique study, The State of Omnichannel Retail, that analyzes how leading retailers, brands and key companies are serving consumers by implementing omnichannel strategies and initiatives into their efforts.
The eye-opening study explores how retailers are using technology to capture and analyze data, learn deep insights about customers, and enhance the entire customer experience. The research helps merchants better position themselves to embrace omnichannel in 2018 and beyond.
Reviewing and Reacting Thanks to Data
The State of Omnichannel Retail report identified that “91 percent of retailers and brands currently have an omnichannel strategy or are planning to invest in omnichannel technologies in the near term.” Additionally, the report identified that “87 percent of retailers see omnichannel as critical or important to their business.” This same report revealed, however, that only a small segment of retailers feel they have mastered omnichannel, or even have the right omnichannel technology in place. Among the reasons for this huge gap is the lack of clarity and connection among platforms supporting these respective merchants, as well as a lack of understanding on how to incorporate data collected and apply it to their businesses.
Among the essential parts of retail today is understanding how and why to use data to best support your consumer audience, retail operations and overall management of store success. After all, omnichannel is about crossing borders — whether those borders are physical shops, currencies, social media, email marketing, states or more. Every time one of those borders is crossed, information is transferred from one location to another. Information can’t be exchanged when data is tied up in silos, therefore retailers must select platforms that work together in order to create an omnichannel experience for their customers.
Expanding on this, it’s critical for merchants to recognize that data and processing don't happen in a vacuum, but instead have a measurable impact in both the physical and virtual worlds. As a result, it's ideal for retailers aiming to create an omnichannel experience to select a single platform for all of their business processes.
Time for a Change
Reviewing a business with a critical eye is among the best ways to strengthen it, which often also means introducing change. For merchants, a leading indicator that change is needed can be based on how many times they must manually touch an order for it to be processed. The more times a retailer touches an order, the greater the margin for human error and the greater an indicator there is of that retailer’s need to change its daily operations in order for the business to reach its peak effectiveness. Every time an order is delayed in the fulfillment process, a retailer risks margins being negatively impacted. Yet making an effort to streamline the processes of its day-to-day operations, a retailer can ultimately minimize margin erosion by reducing the number of stops each product needs to make before it's delivered to the customer. This significant change is the driving force behind retail success, ultimately helping merchants either lead or fall behind in their unique retail journey.
The report identified that 45 percent of retailers and brands say they either don't have the right omnichannel technology in place or they feel they would benefit from additional technology platforms. Often, making the change to introducing new technology into businesses is not easy. However, it’s this change that can ultimately help streamline merchant operations and help retailers gain more clarity into their business efficiencies, opportunities, weaknesses and more.
Finally, as merchants evolve from small, no-name brands to midsize growing businesses and beyond, there’s one thing they must remember along the way. An effective omnichannel strategy is based on the willingness to incorporate technology, eliminate human error and welcome data integration. This often means leaving old methods of doing things behind and welcoming new innovation and a willingness to adapt. Collectively, these efforts can lead retailers to stronger success and strengthened consumer experiences — something any size retailer can appreciate.
Related story: Total Retail's 2017 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers