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What Is True Omnichannel Retail Experience

What Is True Omnichannel Retail Experience

Omnichannel shopping allows customers to interact with different sales and media touchpoints while having a consistent experience. This is possible thanks to data being updated in real-time on concerned platforms and touchpoints. As a result, customers can switch between different platforms and continue shopping from where they left off without experiencing any friction. However, true omnichannel experience is challenging to implement due to the following reasons:

  • Siloed channel systems – Despite attempting to implement an omnichannel shopping strategy, many retailers find that each channel is managed in separate IT environments, at least partially. Siloed systems do not exchange data between channels efficiently and cause various issues, including duplication of files and data, bottlenecks within retail processes, and difficulties for operational staff. Most importantly, customers cannot alternate between channels efficiently.
  • Rigid technology – The essence of an omnichannel strategy is the flexibility and malleability of technology. As customer-preferred journeys change rapidly, rigid and inflexible software tools often fail to deliver the omnichannel promise.
  • Lack of personalization – Many omnichannel platforms get overwhelmed by data deluge and constant customer interactions at different touchpoints. When an omnichannel shopping solution does not provide a single view of the customer across all touchpoints, it cannot personalize customer experience intelligently.

A true omnichannel shopping experience incorporates unified consumer profiles managed by one centralized platform — the single source of truth across touchpoints and departments in real time. Most importantly, a truly omnichannel shopping experience isn’t just about using the latest omnichannel retail management system. It is about adopting a consumer-centric business strategy that evolves with socio-technological trends. It’s a philosophy, a mindset, and a business paradigm.

The Evolution from Multichannel to Omnichannel

When ecommerce took off, retailers sought to make their products visible and available for sale on different touchpoints, starting from physical retail stores to online stores and social media platforms. This was most commonly executed on different platforms as retailers were eager to rollout new shopping channels quickly to answer customers’ demand. However, they quickly realized that merely making products available for shopping on multiple channels and platforms, also known as multichannel shopping, was insufficient. They recognized the need to put customer experiences on top of the priority list.

In brief, the evolution from multichannel to omnichannel can be summarized thus:

  • Customers do not follow a linear buying journey and shift back and forth between channels. This has made retailers feel the need for data unification and real-time updating.
  • Converging various shopping behaviors and highlighting customer centricity is the focus of the omnichannel shopping strategy. Hence, businesses now realize that an omnichannel shopping strategy is not just a technique but a business philosophy.
  • The shift from multichannel shopping experience to omnichannel shopping has not just been a shift in technology and processes but also a conscious paradigm shift towards immediacy, transparency, and convenience for all stakeholders involved.

Let’s quickly understand the difference between the often confused terms.

What is the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel?

Although multichannel and omnichannel sound similar, they adopt different approaches and strategies. A multichannel shopping strategy takes a product-centric approach and ensures the product or service is available on multiple channels. An omnichannel strategy prioritizes the customer. By doing so, omnichannel strategy creates personalized shopping experiences and enhances customer satisfaction, improving brand loyalty.

To put things succinctly:

Multichannel shopping experience focuses on making products and services available on different platforms without necessarily prioritizing customer experience.
Omnichannel shopping experience adopts a customer-centric approach so customers can seamlessly shop on all available physical, online, and social touchpoints.

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Differences

Multichannel

Omnichannel

Focus 

Making products and services available on multiple platforms

Ensuring seamless customer journeys across shopping platforms.

Promotion  strategy

Static and product-oriented 

Dynamic and personalized promotions targeted at customers based on their user behavior and interactions across all touchpoints. 

Channel interaction

Platforms function independently of each other, resulting in data silos. 

Real-time integration and syncing of shopping data across platforms for a unified experience. 

Data management 

Customer data is managed separately for each channel. This often causes data inconsistencies and inaccurate customer profiles.

A unified customer data platform ensures consistent information and a holistic customer view across all channels.

Customer service

Customer support is managed separately for each platform, resulting in poor support experience

Integrated customer service allows customers to receive consistent support regardless of the initial contact point.

Outcome

May result in disconnected and potentially frustrating customer experiences.

Creates a unified and satisfying customer journey, fostering loyalty and brand advocacy.

6 Steps To Implementing True Omnichannel Experience

Understand Your Customer Journey
Digitalize Customer Experiences at Physical Stores
Unify and centralize Your Data Sources
Implement a Clear Channel Strategy
Personalize the Customer Experience
Iterate and Innovate

1- Understand Your Customer Journey

In retail, the customer journey consists of a series of interactions with a product or business, from searching for a product to finally purchasing it. As this journey is often non-linear, the customer journey map must account for rapid changes and adapt intelligently. For instance:

  • Customers often interact with different channels and touchpoints and sometimes combine them before finally purchasing.
  • They may begin looking for a product on your website or a third-party marketplace and arrive at your physical store to make the final purchase.
  • They may arrive at your physical store to view the product, place an order on their phone, and request a store pickup at a later date.
  • Customers may also compare prices, discounts, and the ability to redeem loyalty points on various touchpoints.
  • The possibilities are truly endless.

A true omnichannel shopping experience supports multiple possibilities on your customer journey map and creates a unified shopping experience for customers. In addition, unified customer profiles help track customer pain points and solve them in real-time.

1- Understand Your Customer Journey

2- Digitalize Customer Experiences at Physical Stores

Retailers often assume omnichannel shopping experience is limited to online purchases made on different digital touchpoints. However, as evidenced by the customer journey possibilities listed above, customers often visit physical stores during their purchase journey. Access to a mobile Point-of-Sale (PoS) system helps your staff support customers in making purchases how they wish. In addition, mobile kiosks extend the omnichannel shopping experience by allowing customers to place online orders at your physical store.

2- Digitalize Customer Experiences At Physical Stores

3- Unify and centralize Your Data Sources

The omnichannel shopping experience, by definition, supports multiple purchase platforms simultaneously. Hence, a lot of disparate and real-time data is aggregated each time there is customer interaction. All this data must be stored in a central repository, and care must be taken to centralize customer data.

As multiple shopping channels interact to provide customers a seamless and frictionless shopping experience, it is essential to create systems that allow for real-time data sharing between channels and departments. A crucial part of this mix is to include central analytics, to derive insights that are relevant, contextualized, and targeted.

4- Implement a Clear Channel Strategy

Channel strategy helps you determine effective routes for making shopping straightforward and frictionless for your customers. It helps provide customers with omnichannel experiences across communication channels that they prefer. The following steps help further:

Your branding, messaging, product offering and promotions, must be consistent across chosen channels.
Gain insight into your audience and draft messages that align with their shopping goals.
Access customer data and generate insights to understand what drives them to your brand.
Ensure functionalities are the same regardless of the chosen platform.
Choose relevant channels that are most effective with your target audience. Continue to measure your channel strategy and make changes based on performance and testing.

5- Personalize the Customer Experience

A defining characteristic of the omnichannel shopping experience is that it is hyper-personalized. Omnichannel shopping strategies depend on customer data to generate tailor-made responses, recommendations, and customer experience. This helps create a personalized customer journey so they feel they are genuinely being attended to.

Whether they contact the support center or browse products on your websites, everything is tailor-made to them based on different data sources ranging from previous interactions and user behavior to algorithmic predictions. This creates a cohesive purchase experience that enhances customer interaction.

Please note, it is essential to ensure that you store all customer data in compliance with various regulations such as GDPR. Thankfully, a retail tool solution will help ensure you comply with such data protection laws automatically.

5- Personalize The Customer Experience

6- Iterate and Innovate

A true omnichannel experience depends on evolving with emerging trends and technological developments. Here are a few considerations:

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have dramatically changed the way different touchpoints are operated, and it is essential to consistently iterate and innovate.
Identify key performance metrics (KPIs) to track and measure, and iterate to make improvements.
Conduct A/B testing to ensure that your omnichannel strategies are truly omnichannel and not just in terms of words.
Identify bottlenecks within the shopping journey and help make amends to your existing plan.

Most importantly, omnichannel is a philosophy not limited to making shopping seamless for customers. It also involves getting your team to immerse themselves in omnichannel philosophy and deliver a seamless experience to shoppers while making things easier for themselves.

6- Iterate And Innovate

Benefits of True Omnichannel for Businesses

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Enhanced customer experience

At the heart of the omnichannel shopping experience is your customers' comfort and convenience. You will win your customers' hearts by ensuring they gain access to a personalized and attentive shopping journey across platforms. This leads to a better perception of your companies brand and enhanced loyalty.

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Reduced burden on support staff

One of the main reasons customers call up support centers is that their shopping journey could be more omnichannel. When you try to deliver an omnichannel experience to your customers, you will notice a drastic reduction in the number of calls made to your contact center. This unburdens your staff so that they can focus on more critical tasks.

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Enhanced sales

The logical and natural outcome of omnichannel shopping is increased sales. When customers don't have to start their buying journey all over again and when they don't encounter hurdles or bottlenecks during shopping, they will eventually make it to the checkout page and make a purchase. This dramatically increases your sales figures.

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No backlogs

Omnichannel shopping ensures that your inventory management and order processing teams do not have to deal with backlogs and overstocking, thanks to a 360-degree view of both front-end and back-end processes. They also can avoid the consequences of understocking, which often makes customers feel disappointed. As all data is synced in real-time, inventory can be replenished in real-time, and orders processed successfully and quickly. This has a direct positive effect on your ROI.

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Gain competitive advantage

Multiple studies show that discounts and loyalty programs are not enough to entice or retain high-value customers. Providing a pleasant and intuitive shopping experience is essential, which is only possible with omnichannel shopping strategies. By implementing a true omnichannel shopping strategy, you will also gain a competitive edge.

Benefits of True Omnichannel for Customers

Seamless Communication
Enhanced accessibility
Integration complexity can be avoided
Targeted marketing
Risk mitigation
Cheaper for customers

Seamless Communication

Omnichannel shopping strategy puts the customer into the limelight and ensures that data won’t get stored in silos. Seamless communication between different shopping platforms, enhanced customer support, and smooth order processing are a few predictable benefits for customers.

Seamless Communication

Enhanced accessibility

A true omnichannel shopping experience recognizes that customers may not have access to all the touchpoints at all times. Businesses can make their products more accessible to discerning customers by understanding whether or not they use social media or other shopping platforms. This is particularly useful for B2B sellers whose customers may only be available on some platforms used by B2C customers. These include forums, closed networks, and customers who may not engage in mainstream omnichannel experiences.

Integration complexity can be avoided

Omnichannel shopping thrives on an integrated shopping process. It helps customers switch between platforms easily and make purchases quickly and seamlessly. However, you can also reduce integrations when needed to avoid complexities. This helps you deliver a minimally omnichannel shopping experience to customers who are picky.

Integration Complexity Can Be Avoided

Targeted marketing

Omnichannel provides a consistent shopping experience across platforms, making marketing messaging uniform. If you wish to silo your marketing campaigns according to platforms, true omnichannel shopping makes it possible. Every channel has its characteristics, and your branding can be altered according to the platform while retaining the essence.

Targeted Marketing

Risk mitigation

The omnichannel shopping experience can pose certain risks, such as data loss or threat to privacy. Thankfully, true omnichannel shopping takes these risk factors into account and share only the necessary data between platforms. This helps keep certain sensitive data in silos, which can be retrieved or shared when necessary.

Cheaper for customers

Omnichannel shopping enhances productivity of your work staff, and helps reduce a variety of expenses. This indirectly helps customers to pay less for their products, as you will be able to adjust your pricing accordingly. Saved time and money can be transformed into tangible benefits for customers such as discounts, loyalty coupons, and rewards.

A True Omnichannel Retail Management System Revs Up Your Retail Business

A True Omnichannel Retail Management System Revs Up Your Retail Business

Choosing the right omnichannel tool can be difficult, especially when multiple options exist. The trick is to select an all-in-one ERP and retail solution that prepares you for a rapidly changing future. You should be able to implement a true omnichannel shopping experience and scale up down as and when necessary.

Priority’s Retail Management System is a centralized unified commerce tool that helps deliver a consistent shopping journey across all shopping channels. It helps your staff with mobile capabilities for back-office operations. For instance, Sync Engine helps implement omnichannel shopping experience even during brief power outages. Contact us today to learn more about our omnichannel retail management system.

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