The biggest benefits of great omnichannel retail
Speak to any retailer, anywhere in the world and before long they’ll be talking about omnichannel retail, seamless CX across all touchpoints, and creating the kind of retail ecosystems that makes these experiences possible.
Shopping didn’t used to be like this. It used to be simple. And we believe that – with the right tech – it still should be.
Remember what it used to be like? You’d walk into a store, browse through some items, choose what you wanted, maybe try a few different things on if you were shopping for clothes, and then head to a cash desk to pay for your goods.
It seems like this happened in the Dark Ages yet it was less than 20 years ago when online shopping truly hit the mainstream. By the mid-2000s the likes of Amazon, Alibaba and eBay were well on their way to fundamentally shifting the way we shop and how, as consumers, we behave.
All of a sudden the internet had given us seemingly endless choice. We weren’t confined by what we could find in physical stores. Instead, we could browse online to a heart’s content to find the exact product we wanted.
Forward-thinking retailers saw what was happening with the rise of marketplaces like Amazon and, before long, were developing their own ecommerce stores.
Choice – and convenience – have always been what consumers crave. With the rise of ecommerce, consumers suddenly had both in bucketloads.
Of course, it didn’t end there. The combination of mobile tech, social media and a burgeoning app culture combined to create a plethora of new shopping experiences and ways consumers could spend their cash.
Retail became everywhere, all the time, and always on.
But, to quote Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. And the responsibility of the retailer has always been to deliver on the customer promise.
With the ecomm and mobile tech boom, delivering a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints and customer interactions became retail’s Holy Grail with many retailers striving to deliver on the promise but, more often than not, falling short.
It’s been the same old story for retailers who have struggled to change with the times; different channels still operate in silos, physical stores don’t talk to online channels, and the customer is viewed in isolation.
And this isn’t what customers want.
In the eyes of the customers, there’s only ever been one channel. They see a brand as one entity – not silos of different channels. And they expect every brand to deliver on its promise regardless of the channel.
This is why reaching omnichannel has been seen as the end game for so many retailers. And not just omnichannel. Reaching great omnichannel retail in real-time is now the ultimate goal.
Let’s not beat around the bush here; the end-game of great omnichannel is to increase sales.
As an ambitious global retailer, if you can deliver on your brand promise (and give your customers what they want when they want it) then you’ll create trust and ultimately increase loyalty and sales.
A unified cross-channel experience is essential to building this trust and loyalty… and to optimizing sales. With the same information everywhere and with real-time adjustments across all touchpoints, you can provide a fluid customer journey that traverses both online and physical channels.
Great omnichannel retail will help you increase sales by…
1. Giving you the tools to deliver a market-leading customer experience
With a 360° view of your customer’s order history and their interaction with your brand, you can deliver a great personalized service and connect with your customers in a relevant and engaging way. Your customers want all prices, stock levels, orders, and the information you hold on them to be unified. This requires all your systems to work together in harmony.
Your physical stores have to integrate seamlessly with each other and with all your online sales channels. Without this, your customers won’t have choice, convenience, or a good experience.
2. Improving customer lifetime value & loyalty
When you put your customers first (which is what great omnichannel does), you’re going to make them happy. And happy customers are loyal customers. Give your customers a great experience and, not only will they return to buy from you again and again, they’ll tell people how good you are and send even more business your way.
3. Empowering store associates
By giving your store associates the right tools (like a POS supported by a Unified Commerce Platform) you transform their role in your stores. They have, in the palm of their hands, the tools to give your customers what they want, whenever they want it. Because they have the right tools to do their jobs, your store associates are more engaged, happier and more productive – which combine to further improve the experience they give your customers.
4. Improving inventory visibility & turnover
When you have real-time visibility of your inventory you get a better understanding of your stock levels, you can reduce wastage and it’s easier to see where your inventory needs to be replenished.
With a single real-time view of all in-store, online and ‘elsewhere’ inventory and built-in inventory management tools, a unified commerce platform makes it easier for you to improve accuracy, maximize inventory availability and minimize excess inventory. Unified stock allows you to optimize stock flows and deliver on all omnichannel scenarios to provide your customers with a unified shopping experience.
5. Enhanced fulfillment
In terms of fulfillment, great omnichannel helps you meet your customers’ needs in a cost efficient way.
It amplifies your store fulfillment possibilities with Click-and-Collect (BOPIS), Click-and-Reserve (ROBIS), Endless Aisle and buy, reserve and pickup in other stores.
It also helps you turn your stores into fulfillment centers, meaning ecommerce orders can be shipped from your stores and that stores can ship orders placed in other stores. All your stores should be able to be used as fulfillment centers. And all inventory should always be available to sell everywhere.
Not only does turning your stores into fulfillment centers make you more efficient and result in a better service for customers, it’s also more sustainable as it cuts down on shipping from centralized distribution centers.
With ecommerce sales soaring it’s also important for the stores to handle returns of goods bought online (BORIS) – which great omnichannel does. It will keep the costs for returns down and also stimulate upsales.
At its heart, retail is simple. It’s about giving your customers what they want, when they want it. However, when customer shopping behavior is in a constant state of evolution, it’s your job to stay ahead of this change.
This means working smarter, using tech and software to put your customers first, empower your store associates, and doing everything you can to anticipate what’s going to come next.
Download our free guide to see how changing your mindset to retail software can make great omnichannel a reality and empower you to always give your customers what they want.