Omni-channel retail is key to survival, but retailers may not be ready.
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The retail landscape has witnessed an unprecedented paradigm shift in the last decade. Technological advancements, the introduction of cutting-edge, and innovative sales mediums, and platforms, and the ever-evolving consumer behaviour, and the inclination towards online shopping have very much paved the way for this transformation. Consumers demand not only to be satisfied but delighted, and avail of far beyond just the conventional retail experience from the retail brands. This has brought the concept of omnichannel retail to the forefront. While individual retailers and retail brands understand the significance of omnichannel sales strategy, they might not be ready for the full-fledged implementation. In this article, we will be discussing all about omnichannel retailing.
What Is Omnichannel Retail?
Omnichannel retailing is essentially referred to as an integrated approach to selling that enables retail customers to browse, shop, and purchase through a variety of sales mediums. These sales mediums may include the conventional brick-and-mortar stores or the trending platforms for sales such as social media, website, and mobile, etc. It is a tad different from multichannel retailing, which essentially leverages the above-mentioned sales mediums. However, multichannel retailing lacks the high-level synchronization among the various sales channels that are at the core of omnichannel retailing. Unlike multichannel retailing, omnichannel retailing is devoid of all sorts of silos.
Why do Retailers need to Adhere to the Omnichannel Strategy?
Accessibility to Existing Customers – When a retail brand has only a brick-and-mortar presence, the customers can shop for the products by being physically present at the store. For this, the customers have to stay in physical proximity to the store. With this approach, the retail store has a very limited scope to expand its customer base. However, omnichannel retail enables a host of sales mediums that are internet-driven and thus can be leveraged to reach out to a wider customer base. A massive customer base that has an easy, intuitive, and hassle-free shopping experience will help retail brands to garner greater business ROI.
Opportunity for Reaching Out to Potential Customers
As a retail brand, how do you spread awareness about your product offerings to potential customers? When you have only the brick-and-mortar presence, in-store marketing campaigns may pave the way through the reach might not be lucrative. However, omnichannel retailing helps retail brands to reach out to potential customers, and craft remarketing campaigns to retain past customers. It helps retail brands to foster personalized connections with their customers to promote retail success, and growth.
Contextual, and Seamless Customer Experiences
In-store purchases have their own set of perks, and challenges alike. Omnichannel retailing is geared towards eliminating all the hassles associated with in-store shopping such as the wait time involved while checking out the aisles. Omnichannel retailing brings together the offline and online platforms to enable retailers to deliver consistent, contextual, and seamless shopping experiences.
Why Retailers Are Still Hesitant?
Omnichannel retailing is not devoid of challenges. Here are some of the key ones.
Technology Integration – Seamless omnichannel experiences are all great, but a lot goes on backstage to ensure the same. Taking care of inventory-related aspects, customer services, and offering cutting-edge, and flexible shipping options are some of the key technology integration challenges.
Personalization – Multi-device usage for conducting pre-shopping research, and shopping has been a norm, lately. While customers are definitely at the receiving end of the benefits of leveraging multiple sales mediums, at times, it may become counterintuitive too. There is a high risk of shopping cart abandonment.
Behavioural Barriers – Omnichannel retailing is highly lucrative from the customers’ perspective. However, the same might not be applicable for the in-store employees. They might perceive this as a threat or roadblock for their future prospects.
Why Omnichannel Retailing Is The Need of The Hour?
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the nations in more than one way. From impacting the healthcare infrastructure to imposing social distancing measures, this pandemic has paved the way for a host of new normal circumstances. This has again put the focus back on omnichannel retail and encouraged the retailers to hash out new strategies and execute them to entice shoppers.
How Retailers Can Make The Most of Omnichannel Strategy?
Building a successful omnichannel retail strategy needs strategic consideration, planning, and initiatives. Here are some of the key steps and best practices for the same.
- Customer Segmentation – The ultimate aim of omnichannel retail is to reach out to existing, and potential customers, and not only meet but exceed their expectations. But before achieving this, retail brands have to segment their customers appropriately so that they can hash out segment-wise sales, and marketing strategies. Income range, geographic location, generation, online presence, behaviour, values, and the nature of interactions with marketing campaigns are some of the criteria that can be leveraged for customer segmentation.
- Sales Channel identification – From social media to email marketing to search campaigns to ads, there are multiple sales, marketing, and promotion avenues out there. Retail brands have to identify the most loved medium by their target customers. This will help them reach their target customers where they are most likely to interact, engage, and convert.
- Customer Journey Mapping – The buying journey has become quite versatile, multidimensional, and phased. Customers go through the awareness, intent, desire, and action phases while purchasing a product. Until the action is taken, there is a chance that the customer might not convert. It is essential for retail brands to map their customers’ journeys so they can rehash or redouble their marketing efforts.
- Customer Support – No matter what the product portfolio is or how cost-effective the products are or how famous a retail brand is, customers tend to shy away in the absence of adequate customer support. Extending cross and multichannel customer support has thus become the need of the hour.
- Technology & Automation – Today’s customer base comprises millennials who tend to lean towards tech-driven, automated processes when it comes to buying. Technology and automation should be the key pillars for retailers to make the most of omnichannel strategies.
It won’t be apt to say omnichannel retail won’t have any bottlenecks and roadblocks in the future. However, retailers must work around the challenges and emerge victorious.
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