Long promised but rarely realised, ‘omnichannel’ is finally here to stay

Now’s the time for retailers to really blend the physical and digital – here’s why

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After a year and a half of largely online digital ecommerce, the world is impatient for rich omnichannel shopping experiences.

Most retailers have trialled or implemented some degree of integration between the physical and digital worlds. But omnichannel still has a lot of untapped potential. Now, as shoppers return to the stores, the race is on to attract an audience that is more digitally savvy than ever before.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you hone your post-pandemic omnichannel strategy.

1. Data, data, data

For retailers, the possibilities of omnichannel are enormous. But to make it a success today, it’s essential to capture and analyse as much data as you can. Data allows you to refine the shopping experience and improve and streamline ecommerce and physical retail. And it can help explain when and where customers are stalling, up-buying or leaving.

For example, as part of its omnichannel strategy, Nike gleaned insights from the data it was collecting from its apps and interactive physical stores. Real-time customer data told the business that more people were doing yoga, so it rapidly designed and manufactured new yoga clothing which it then sold both online and in-store.

In addition, data enables you to create a single view of your customers. This helps to deliver a consistent and informed brand experience across physical and digital stores. And, as a result, you can build strong connections with customers and increase engagement, loyalty and lifetime value.

2. Understand your customers

Omnichannel is great for shoppers too. It enables them to browse and buy in store or online, or buy in store and have it delivered home – or even just buy online, from a PC, laptop or phone, and never even walk into a store. On top of that, they get to have an enjoyable brand experience.

It’s vital, therefore, to know what your customers want from an omnichannel experience. Retailer Boots is launching a cross-channel initiative with ITV called Shoppable TV, where viewers of reality show Love Island can buy items from the programme directly on-screen from certain smart TV models. They can use their remote to view details, then purchase from the vendor’s site or with a link sent to their phone.

Ask yourself how you could innovate the customer experience and bring in more channels to serve them better.

3. The power of devices

Today’s devices are ripe for omnichannel. Mobile phones are being used by customers to make payments, manage their loyalty accounts, browse products, and communicate with customer services.

But they can also provide an Augmented Reality overlay of a physical space, offer virtual try-on, and enable shoppers to scan in-store QR codes to learn more or play a branded game. In-store laptops or tablets can make store visits more engaging and informative.

Consider the whole range of devices and how they could make your brand accessible to customers in new ways.

4. Linking up channels

As well as new and exciting customer experiences, omnichannel can also help to fulfil orders across physical and digital, linking up warehouses, stores and buying channels.

For example, digital consultant Redbox worked with Diesel to create a custom-built order management system that enabled the brand to fulfil orders as though it had a centralised warehouse. Redbox designed a complex but smart piece of middleware, whose sourcing logic enabled Diesel to provide consumers with a true omnichannel experience. This included online shopping, click-and-collect, and the flexibility to exchange or return items online or in any Diesel store.

So, consider how you could link up your channels more effectively.

5.Legacy & siloed IT

Legacy and siloed back-office systems can stand in the way of multichannel adoption. A customer journey can span many different databases and applications. So, it may be necessary to replace legacy IT if it hinders progress or will end up costing much more in the long run than building fresh.

Consider working with a skilled partner that can advise on what’s possible or not. Also, without joined up channels and processes, and a single view of the customer, it’s difficult to give digital or store-based staff the tools and information they need to provide a personal and relevant customer experience. Again, working with the right technology partner can help solve these issues, particularly if they have experience doing it for other companies.

Omnichannel is here to stay

Shoppers are returning to physical stores and want to take the best of their experiences from the online world and also have these applied to in-person engagement. This is where true omnichannel can become your competitive differentiator, increasing engagement and sales, unifying channels, and creating lasting and profitable relationships with customers.

Not only is omnichannel here to stay, it’s about to explode.

Redbox Digital 

A specialist partner organisation like Redbox Digital can help connect your physical and digital channels and increase customer engagement. Experienced in delivering omnichannel platforms, and a specialist with the Adobe portfolio and other technology frameworks, Redbox can work with your business to create a bespoke solution – one that integrates personalisation at the core of your brand’s touchpoints and brings together all of your channels. That way, you can get ahead of the pack and offer customers the type of shopping experience they crave.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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