Retailing has inarguably been transformed over the last few years. Developments in information technology and the proliferation of digital channels – mobile, online, social media, and so on – have aggressively altered consumer patterns, and consequently, retail business models and the buying process itself.
As new touch-points become available to customers, the retail industry is reacting with a noticeable shift from a multi-channel approach to what is now being referred to as omni-channel retailing. Interestingly, research indicates that the success of businesses is heavily tied to their ability to respond to the transition to omni-channel: businesses which adopt omni-channel strategies achieve considerably greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that do not.
A winning omni-channel strategy is necessary. Yet despite its ubiquity, the term omni-channel is not always properly defined or distinguished from multichannel. In brief, multi-channel refers to brand presence which infiltrates through several, alternative physical or virtual channels, through which customers can make purchases, but which nevertheless work disjointedly. Omni-channel, on the other hand, works towards dissolving the boundaries between those various channels, unifying them so that they become inseparable. Increasingly techsavvy consumers want to have the ability to shop across multiple channels, anywhere and at any time, and they expect consistency during each encounter with the brand as they move across channels to make a purchase. To give an example, a customer may wish to use a digital channel to look at stock availability or prices, and then complete his or her transaction by purchasing, or simply collecting, pre-paid items from the closest physical store.
Predicting the sequence of a customer’s engagement with the various touch-points, however, is tricky, if not impossible. This difficulty is best addressed by cultivating a flexible and integrated omni-channel service, which empowers customers to determine their own path of purchase, allowing them the liberty of switching freely between channels and interacting with the various points in the order they desire. The task of the competitive retailer is therefore to mirror consumer behaviour and to devise a seamless shopping experience that succeeds in attracting new customers and simultaneously retains the loyalty of the regulars by making its products, as well as unified information about them, available to its customers through various seamlessly integrated touch-points.
A successful progression into omnichannel business comes with its challenges and inevitably requires investment. Certainly, it calls for the organisational culture of a business – along with its operations and practices – to evolve and adapt. Furthermore, the key technologies selected by a company to facilitate the journey towards a customer-centric approach are often at the root of the success, or failure, of that strategy, thus demanding the careful selection of strategic technology and retail partners.
One such supplier, LS Retail, is a world-leading developer and provider of all-in-one business solutions for retail and offers a powerful suite of high-quality, cost effective, and highly configurable solutions. Their extensive experience assisting retailers worldwide to optimise their business processes and increase revenue by creating the desired unified shopping experience across platforms makes the challenge of developing an omni-channel strategy significantly less daunting.
Entrusted with the unique retail strategies of household names such as Nike, IKEA, Juventus F.C., PUMA, Armani Exchange, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret, LS Retail can support businesses with creating optimised retail operations and customer experiences that are superior, consistent, and personalised throughout.
LS Retail and its local Solution Partner, Exigy, can assist companies with providing the necessary technology to ensure their customers receive a superior, omni-channel shopping experience and outstanding customer service.
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