Retailers always want to make their customers’ shopping experience delightful. And customers should be in the center of any business decisions we make. However, at the same time, these decisions have to be commercially viable.
In this article, we will look at bridging the gap between brick-and-mortar shopping and digital commerce by offering ‘Omni-channel retailing’ to your customers. Let’s look at all surrounding factors and its viability in commercial terms.
The word ‘Omnichannel’ or ‘Omni-channel’ means encompassing various sales channels into one. With merging of all sales channels, you use only one system to process orders whether your customers place it in-store, online and on-the-go.
Omni-channel vs multi-channel
Omni-channel and multi-channel are sometimes misunderstood to be the same so let’s first clarify on that. Omnichannel pos system is where you merge everything into one. While with multi-channel you still offer various shopping options to your customers but with multiple independent channels. For example, you could offer online shopping experience to your customers using a website, use a traditional POS software for in-store sales and simply use pen and paper for sales at exhibitions.
Yes, it has worked for us till now but the things are changing. Omnichannel solves following multi-channel problems:
- You’ll need to run separate inventory systems
- Separate IT systems means more things that could break
- You’ll have to teach multiple systems to your staff for order processing
- Customers will have to keep separate accounts with your business
- No centralised analytics. Separate in-store and online data
On the other hand, omni-channel will allow you to offer your customers a seamless shopping experience with your business. For example, they’ll enrol in only one loyalty program and accrue loyalty points with your business, no matter how they placed their order. You’ll manage one inventory system, be able to look at the holistic view of your business performance with all sales channels combined. In our view, this serves as a great competitive advantage. Business that overlook this shift in retail run the risk of missing out and falling behind the competition as omni-channel becomes the norm.
At the E-commerce Summit 2014 in Denmark, the CEO of the Danish E-commerce Association (FDIH) reported “An FDIH survey showed three out of four (75%) online customers expect to order online and pick up the goods in a physical store, as well as return goods bought online to the physical stores. The biggest challenge for retailers is to adapt their shops to fulfil the customers’ expectations and behaviour, which means that they will have to be truly dedicated at becoming Omni-channel.”
Does Omni-Channel Increase Revenue?
The biggest and most important question to ask is whether this is viable in commercial terms. Does omnichannel represent real business value? Do we get any quantitative or qualitative benefits that will result in additional sales?
A survey from Deloitte, on behalf of eBay, probably answers this complex question. The survey concluded that omni-channel keeps your shoppers happy and can improve earnings as well. The survey further states that regular customers are more likely to be omni-channel customers. The survey also states that the popular belief that omni-channel drives customers away from brick-and-mortar stores is wrong. Omni-channel customers are not abandoning retail stores. In fact, these shoppers are regarding the online shopping as a complementary option with most of them shopping offline at least once a week.
In conclusion, omni-channel creates more sales opportunities through additional channels such as online and mobile commerce. At the same time, it is providing your regular customers with options that help you retain and delight them. Omnichannel retailing simply enables more frequent and higher-value purchases. Read full survey report here – the full survey report.