When Amazon bought Whole Foods for billions, it wasn’t because they lacked access to organic kale and cage-free eggs. Making the deal turned Amazon into a true omni-channel retailer.
In the simplest terms, omni-channel retail is how business-to-consumer companies are adapting to 21st century customer behavior. Wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, consumers expect the same personalized experience online, via mobile devices, and in-store. Omni-channel provides that multi-prong set of options.
Just a few years ago, omni-channel was something retailers noticed on the horizon, but they weren’t sure when it would arrive. But here in 2018, omni-channel hasn’t just become a potential path, it’s now a strategy retailers need for mere survival.
While omni-channel involves many steps, it’s best to first build a legitimate omni-channel experience. This means providing tailored and convenient customer experiences. The more personalized options you deliver, the more they will equate to sales.
But stand-alone, personalized experiences are just the beginning. Retailers must deliver them across all channels. Whether a customer is sitting in a café or in their home office, they must get the same customized offers and messaging on the web site, in marketing emails, on social media channels, and within physical stores.
Of course, now that retailers can drive revenue through various channels, they have to properly manage and assess these intertwined sales mechanisms. Sure, omni-channel allows you to sell more, expand brand reach, and propel customer engagement, but many retailers have yet to understand how this new model equates to true revenues and profit margins. Which paths are the most effective? Which paths need to be tweaked?
It can be a challenging exercise, given the analytics, shared inventory resources, cross-channel fulfillment and pricing strategies. That said, retailers can optimize omni-channel revenue management by grabbing control of cross-channel fulfillment inventories and lifecycle channel prices.
For some years, many retailers wanted to be omni-channel, but they recognized the need for an omni-platform. They needed platforms, as well as devices, that would have the power to connect and control their retail network at the maximum level.
Thankfully, that time has come with omni-platforms and omni-devices. Rather than having to juggle an in-store platform and an online platform, omni-platforms and omni-devices provide not only the utmost in convenience, they offer the highest level of cross-channel integration. Now retailers can enhance each step in the shopping experience, from marketing to sales to shipping to customer service. In fact, the power of omni-platform is best exemplified with a cloud that manages the customer experience. Retailers can gather every single data point about customers, creating the ability to deliver personalized messages and offers, on any device.
To be sure, while omni-channel presents a wealth of opportunities, it also brings legitimate challenges. You can’t dive into the proposition with your head in the sand. Retailers must measure which omni-channel strategy they should pursue. They need to assess all angles of this business model to evaluate its potential for growth, and to discover which types of investments will be required.
No matter what your organization does, its important to remember that retail is in constant flux. Whether its 1918 or 2018, those adjustments have always been based on the customer. How can you serve them better and, in turn, sell more? Omni-channel is simply the next way to do so.