The emergence of liberalization, privatization, and globalization coupled with a thriving population, climbing GDP growth, rising disposable income, and increasing consumer expenditure across different economies of the world have fueled the growth in the global retail industry and created numerous opportunities for all kinds of players in the retail segment.
Research reveals that the market is expected to reach an estimated $20,002 billion in 2017 with a CAGR of 4.1% per year (2012-2017). The retail industry today is experiencing explosive transformations as investments are rushing into this sector both in developed as well as developing markets across the world. Retailers including small proprietors to huge retail chains, e-retailers to brick & mortar stores are embracing the latest trends in marketing, distribution, supply chain & technology in order to compete with each other, adapt to the changing consumer behavior, and sustainable growth.
However, the notion that the eventual fate or future of retailing lies with the e-retailers is no longer considered as an unquestionable truth by the industry due to the emergence of a new trend known as Omni-channel retailing which is increasingly adopted by retailers across the globe in order to cater to the consumers who today want to shop anytime, anywhere.
Define Omni-Channel Retailing
Omni-channel retailing is a consumer-centric approach that deals with the marketing of multi-channel retailing and is considered to be its evolved form. It refers to the adoption of strategies, a variety of engagement tools, and a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all accessible shopping channels including versatile mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar stores, TV, radios, direct mail, catalog, and so on. It allows retailers to integrate all the channels of retailing & reaching customers simultaneously so as to enable them to track down the consumers across all channels.
Moreover, today consumers have access to a range of innovative technologies, numerous kinds of online resources, multiple sources of product information which they utilize while shopping & are generally well informed about the various aspects products while entering the brick and mortar stores hence they expect the store employees to know more than what they do. Hence Omni-channel retailing allows retailers to deal with these informed consumers by offering them consistent experience at all platforms and catering to their demand based on a central & common database of products, offers, prices, etc. It allows the consumers to experience the brand by providing merchandise and promotions consistent across all retail channels rather than offering an assortment of touch-points of the same brand. The brick-and-mortar stores, in this case, turn into an extension of the supply chain where purchases may be made in the stores, yet are researched through other “channels” of communication. With Omni-channel retailing, marketing is made more efficient and consumer-specific by providing offers determined by consumer purchasing behavior, its social network affinities, website visits, loyalty programs, and other data mining techniques.
Omnichannel Customer Service
Improvement in Consumers’ Perception & SatisfactionFive major advantages of Omni-channel retailing,
- Improving Sales
- Higher Margins
- Building Brands
- Better Data Collection
The Omni-channel retailing not only helps organizations in realigning their business operations and implementing infrastructure changes but also provides a pathway & vision to attract, retain customers, and driving greater sales.
- Improvement in Consumers’ Perception & Satisfaction
There is an emergence of a new generation of customers or shoppers known as millennial’s. These shoppers are always online whether it’s social networking sites or skimming the most recent products from their most loved retail stores. Thus retailers need to develop and implement strategies that permit these shoppers to flawlessly switch or move between online & brick and mortar store shopping. These customers can get to be restless and if their experience is everything except for simple, they will move on.
Thus these consumers expect integration and will get annoyed waiting for it to turn into a reality. Moreover, the blurring of channels isn’t simply a retail marvel. It is progressing into different aspects of shoppers’ lives like entertainment, where two-screen viewing is turning into a behavioral standard. Retailing is passing through a transitional time where the pace of implementation can be differentiating and brand-building or meek response can be disappointing & damaging.
- Improving Sales
The Omni-channel retailing set up allows shoppers to make a purchase from wherever they please. It gives retailers’ stock visibility and accessibility in the customers’ favored channel. Moreover, it provides convenience to the customers and substantially increases the buying opportunities for various products offered by retailers. Lastly, it provides shoppers with a wider selection and numerous ways of accessing and purchasing that selection thereby enhancing sales.
- Higher Margins
An intelligently outlined online sales framework reduces the incidence of numerous schemes related to discounting. On the other hand in conventional retailing, only those products are sold on heavy discounts which are proving hard to sell through particular stores. However, Omni-channel retailing nationally based sellers can sell products to anyone across the nation at full price as it provides an effective efficient online and offline sales framework.
- Building Brands
Building the virtual brand from scratch is considered to be tough and difficult by the retailers as compared to building a real brand. Retailers having brick and mortar stores while offering their products online for sale find it less demanding to control & regulate pricing power as well as sales volume as physical stores are considered to be the custodians of the brand-enhancing the brand value of the retailers through their highly noticeable presence in various centers of the city as well as their outlets.
- New Income Streams
Multi-channel retailing has enabled various convenience stores to develop and generate new revenue streams by providing innovative by easy to implement payment infrastructure to numerous small enterprises involved in the business. A good example can be a small online tuition firm based in Hong Kong which collects payment from its students using 7Eleven stores. Thus clearly indicates how small enterprises can save money & time by not creating their own payment systems and utilizing and adopting a multi-channel solution.
- Better Data Collection
Visibility across multi-channels implies a more personalized experience. Retailers who are able to track their customers over different channels & comprehend their preferences can serve their consumers better. Thus Omni-channel retailing allows a business to additionally gain insights into creating offers that persuade customers to get out from behind their screens & engage themselves in shopping from physical stores, where the likelihood of impulsive buying is more noteworthy.
- Enhanced Productivity
An Omni-channel strategy allows the store associates to arm themselves with tools that expand their access to information and promotes efficiency. Various tools like tablets have turned into the front line defense against customers who are equipped with more information than employees at the stores and are proving to be an incredible offense for transforming customer information into loyalty-building services so as to improve customer retention and increase productivity.
Thus Omni-channel retailing concept is offering a 360-degree view of all the purchases made by the customers in order to serve them better. However as hot as this concept is numerous retailers are unable to adopt and implement it fully because of various challenges associated with it.
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[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create, and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that aligns with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.