Introducing Omni-Channel Retailing

  February 26, 2014       Martin Taylor

2014 is promising to be the year of innovation and development in retail as more and more businesses recognise the value of consistency and quality across all channels. On the 27th March makepositive will be holding a retail briefing discussing the power of Salesforce and how it can address every challenge presented by omni-channel shopping trends.

What Is Omni-Channel Retailing?

As with many new terms and ideas, there are a range of different spellings and adjectives tied to the term ‘omni-channel’ but across the internet the definition is the same. Omni, meaning ‘all’ or ‘universal’ refers to every possible channel of sales. Darren Hitchcock summarises the term as ‘an integrated sales experiences that melds the advantages of physical stores with the information-rich experience of online shopping.’

Omni-channel is all about building a bridge between offline and online mediums. It is the integration of physical, digital, mobile and social shopping into one experience. Rather than viewing customers as yours or your competitors, you approach the customers as a whole with a true continuity as a brand and as a retail experience.

Introducing Omni-channel Ideals in to Your Business

The Discover Cloud CRM talk in March will teach you how to embed the right technologies and processes to accomplish your omni-channel goals, but before then, here are some ideas and examples that could get you thinking about what you are aiming to achieve as a business.

Digital Can Personalise the Physical

It’s been acknowledged that customers enjoy a personalised shopping experience; you are more likely to achieve success by referring to a person’s shopping preferences than by offering them a generic sales pitch. One company, Tmall.com, has embraced the concept of bridging the gap between online and offline and has recognised ways to personalise the customer’s shopping experience.

James Hardy, head of Europe, Alibaba.com, said that ‘for this year’s Singles Day in China, Tmall extended its promotional activity to 30,000 bricks and mortar stores, encouraging people to visit the stores in the run up to November 11 to try out goods. They could then scan product QR codes with their mobile phones to add goods to their virtual shopping cart and automatically receive the appropriate discount.’

Here we can see a combination of mobile, digital and physical as the customers are invited to take full control of their shopping experience.

Advanced Technology In-Store

As technology becomes more powerful, retail is further able to provide customers with personalised and detailed shopping recommendations. In-store tech stations that encourage customers to interact with products are a useful way of bridging the online-offline gap. Stores such as Ikea and Argos have used screens to allow customers to browse stock and quantity for a few years but more and more businesses are considering the possibility of tech within their stores.

John Lewis is a company that has experimented with the integration of technology within their stores by setting up in-store stations that encourage customers to interact with their products, allowing them to easily browse information about stock, sizing, buying history and offering the ability to order online.

Expanding Social Media

Social media has been proven to be crucial for business time and time again, especially as peer-to-peer communication has been shown as a key tool for sales. Now that businesses have become comfortable and accepting of social media as a tool it’s time to once again step out of the comfort zone and introduce social media to the real world, and by that we mean to your physical stores.

One example of this is an experiment that a store did relating their Facebook profile to their products. They set up small screens by each product that displayed the amount of ‘likes’ the item had online to influence customers’ opinion. Acts such as these aim to encourage brand development through customer discussion and recommendation.

Facts and Statistics

A recent survey found that up to three-quarters of shoppers felt that being able to use different channels, such as digital, physical, social and mobile, is incredibly important. The same research predicted that in five years’ time almost half of all purchases will involve more than one channel, for example people using shops as showrooms, ordering online inshore and being kept up to date about said purchases using their mobile phones.

‘Showrooming’ has been proven popular also. This is the practice of people looking at products in store then researching, either there and then on their smartphones or later on at home from desktops and laptops, to find a product that they believe is cheaper or better value. Forty percent of shoppers in the UK have admitted to showrooming when shopping.

Discover Cloud CRM Retail Briefing

Join us at our retail briefing to learn how you can deliver a truly outstanding customer experience by:

  • Having a single-view of customers – whether they interact with your brand online, in-store, via social media or any other channel.
  • Having the insight and information to be able to deliver a personalised experience across your channels.
  • Embedding the right technologies and processes to make this vision come to life.

For more information on our retail briefing event on the 27th March, please CLICK HERE.